BLACK AND WHITE ' AND GREEN. Four-hundred eighty trees can photosynthesize a little easier today, in light of the White House's decision to release the 2009 federal budget in electronic form. The Office of Management and Budget will forgo hard copies of the budget when it is released Feb. 4, instead posting a searchable, downloadable version at Each year, the White House has ordered more than 3,000 copies of the budget for the media, Congress and administration staffers.

The 2009 budget would run about 2,200 pages in four volumes, which OMB said adds up to 20 tons of paper or about 480 trees. True, people will download and click Print, but they've been doing that for years, as OMB posted electronic copies in addition to the official hard copies. This year, at least, some 6.6 million pages won't be printed from the get-go.

RESEARCH DRIVE. The benefits of government-sponsored research have a way of expanding into everyday life, whether they come from NASA's space program ' everything from semiconductor cubing and virtual reality to enriched baby food ' or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's development of the Internet. The fruits of one of DARPA's latest projects, the Urban Challenge (, were on display recently at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Continental Automotive Systems touted smart cars with sensors that detect other cars or hazards on the road. The exhibit also included Carnegie Mellon University's winning entry in last year's Urban Challenge, a robotic Chevy Tahoe that successfully navigated a city-street course.

Though the challenge was designed to develop robotic military vehicles to work in high-risk areas, the results could ultimately let you read a book while driving to work. 'We are a decade out from having a car that drives itself,' Carnegie Mellon's director of technology, Chris Urmson, told Agence France-Presse.

'Kevin McCaney

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.


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