tech planet

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Nissan's Lean, Green 'Land Glider' Banks Like a Motorcycle, Feels Like A Plane

The Nissan Land Glider Nissan's new concept car seats two passengers in tandem and leans into turns like a motorcycle.
It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a Nissan? Though limited to terrestrial travel, the concept Land Glider automobile from Nissan banks like an airplane, tilting into corners, giving drivers the sensation of flying. But, the likenesses to aviation don't end there. The two-seater orients driver and passenger in tandem -- one in front and one in back -- and rather than a steering wheel, the Land Glider has airplane-style, computer-guided yoke controls.

Inside the Land Glider: The controls of the Land Glider resemble those of an airplane rather than a car.
Inspired by glider aircraft and motorcycles, the Land Glider is a lean 3.6 feet wide and ultra-lightweight, allowing its zero-emissions, all-electric motor to whisk it along with decent pep. Though its tight profile and narrow frame should make it easy enough to park, video cameras replaced by cameras feeding to dashboard monitors give the driver plenty of perspective on the vehicle's surroundings.
But the coolest features by far are the tilting wheels and leaning fenders that allow it to lean up to 17 degrees as it negotiates turns, assisted by the steering computer that determines optimum tilt for the current speed and trajectory. The Land Glider goes on display at the Tokyo Motor show October 24, but you can sneak-peek it below.

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Scaly BMW Concept Car Collects Solar Power, Then Raises Panels to Brake

Scaly BMW Beast In the top photo, the scaly flaps are down, absorbing solar power. In the bottom photo, they are raised to brake the car. Anne Forschner
The BMW Lovos car has solar photovoltaic cells all over its body
Plenty of cars can look cool and run green these days, but now designers are taking such concepts to extremes. The BMW Lovos has 260 exterior flaps that can collect solar power and act as airbrakes at the same time.
The wacky car concept comes from Anne Forschner, a 24-year-old graduate of Pforzheim University in Germany. Each scale-like flap holds solar photovoltaic cells and can move to follow the sun or act as individual airbrakes. We can only imagine that seeing a full-scale version of this car driving around might bring to mind a Beast Machine Transformer, or a ruffled feathered dino made metallic.
Perhaps it's less than likely that such a car might make the auto dealers in the near future, but we atPopSci would not be surprised to see similar concepts arise down the line.

Orkin Design and Sony Show Off Roll-Up Laptop Concepts

Rolltop Computing Get ready to roll and go with this multi-touch laptop Orkin Design
Laptops keep getting thinner and lighter, but some concept laptops take portable to a new level. Orkin Design's Rolltop consists of an OLED display that can start as a rolled-up mat and deploy as a multi-touch 17-inch laptop. My beastly HP laptop just shed a tear of envy.
The Orkin laptop can also transform into a tablet PC operable with a stylus, or become a standup flat screen display. A power adapter and other features fit with the carrying canister that comes with a convenient holding strap.
Sony has also gotten in on the action with concept laptops, watches and MP3 players that take advantage of flexible OLED technology. All those went on display at CEATEC 2009 in Chiba, Japan.
This should get any ordinary laptop user excited. But people wondering if a lightweight laptop can still pack in computing power might check outPopSci's own explanation of how to beef up that small PC.

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Highlights From the Los Angeles Auto Show

Cadillac Urban Luxury Concept (ULC) Cadillac designed their ULC—Urban Luxury Concept—as a small luxury city car. We like the hinged doors and the small size; it’s like Caddy’s version of the Aston Martin Cygnet. Cadillac designed the ULC for a small hybrid with 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine and a dual-clutch transmission. Jon Alain Guzik
Paris is over, Detroit is on the freezing cold horizon and Geneva is just a Swiss dream in the far off future. But dropped right in before the Holiday onslaught, the Los Angeles Auto show, now in its 103rd year, is one of the best of the year. The weather is great, and as car towns go, the City of Angels is the ne plus ultra. While the LA show doesn’t have the sheer amount of crazy concepts as its European counterparts, there is something for everyone.
Launch the gallery here for our highlights of the show.

Nissan's ESFLOW Concept Merges Leaf's Zero-Emission Powertrain Tech With Sports Car Sexiness

Nissan's ESFLOW Nissan
Zero to 60 in under five seconds, sports care handling and performance, and zero emissions; that’s what Nissan is promising with it’s new ESFLOW sports car, a pure EV concept two-seater that captures the “joy of driving” while remaining “environmentally sympathetic.” Assuming, that is, that Nissan ever gets around to rolling it off the assembly line.
The ESFLOW relies on the same powertrain as Nissan Leaf, the zero emission family vehicle that many customers have been waiting on for months—and will be waiting on for months morein most cases. Nissan has only delivered a fraction of the Leaf’s that have been reserved, and it likely won’t be able to fill the balance of its orders until late summer. But the ESFLOW does enjoy some attractive, and decidedly sporty, features that offer some advantages over the standard internal combustion sports car.
The rear-wheel drive ESFLOW stows two all-electric motors above the rear wheel axis that independently control the left and right wheels, optimizing torque. Further, the batteries are located along the axis of the front and rear wheels, placing weight in the right places to add to stability in handling (batteries also don’t vary in their weight like a gas tank does, offering consistency in handling).
The batteries deliver a range of about 150 miles on a charge, certainly not bad for an EV. And it looks like a rocket. Or maybe a jet fighter. It looks sexier than the Leaf, anyhow, and if Nissan’s press materials are any indication, it’s aimed at a different customer completely. To wit:
Daniel, an ESFLOW owner, works in tech, but lives for the weekend. On Friday night after work, he gets behind the wheels of his ESFLOW which instantly links with his pocket PDA and determines the fastest route to his girlfriend's home. Finding street side parking is a synch [sic] as the ESFLOW's compact dimensions allow it to slip in to the narrowest of spaces. On Saturday he drives to a popular club to exhibit his DJ skills and his friends are impressed by his cool EV sports car.
So if you’re a young, single, environmentally-conscious male yuppie who also spins vinyl at swanky nightspots and has trouble parallel parking, the ESFLOW is for you. It also might suit you if you’re trapped inside an arcade game, as the TRON-like video below suggests. Or you can simply love it because it’s quiet, fast, and doesn’t have any backseats. No word on potential pricing, but perhaps we’ll hear more when the ESFLOW is officially unveiled next month at the Geneva Motor Show.
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Shredder Clock Destroys Your Money Unless You Wake Up

You Snooze, You Lose via WeTheUrban
If time is money, why waste it by continually smacking the snooze on your bedside alarm clock? This contraption will ensure you understand the literal cost of your morning laziness.
The Shredder Clock is just a concept, but it’s a pretty good idea, and a new spin on the notion that money is a great morning motivator. Other alarm clock inventions force you to feed them money before they’ll shut up, or automatically donate to charities that you hate until you get out of bed, but this one lets you see your money going to waste.
You could conceivably shred anything you find precious, from letters to pictures, so you wouldn’t have to stock it with Benjamins. Which actually might be a good idea, because as Mashable points out, willfully destroying legal tender is a federal crime. Is five more minutes of doze time really worth wasting a C-note and spending six months in prison?
This actually seems like a decent DIY project — it probably wouldn’t take much work to sync a paper shredder to your alarm clock. But it probably wouldn’t look this cool.
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Laid off by NASA, Shuttle Engineers Build a Rocket-Inspired, Street Legal Trike

The Treycycle via Discovery News
In the shadow of Launchpad 39A--where the Space Shuttle Atlantis once stood ready for orbit--a team of former NASA engineers laid off when the shuttle program ended are building a rocket-inspired street legal tricycle. And it’s not just for kicks. Treycycle Gold--as the company building the bikes is now known--aims to employ more than 100 people within the year, breathing new life into the Space Coast’s engineering economy.
The company started with roughly 15 NASA engineers facing imminent termination and a little help from the Emerging Growth Institute, a non-profit that works with emerging technology companies. They decided to flip their vast experience in vehicle design into a new breed of tricycle that is part car, part bike, and all muscle, accelerating from 0-60 in just 3.6 seconds.
The Treycycle packs a Chrysler 300 3.5-liter engine that supplies the vehicle with its 260 horsepower all packed inside a molybdenum alloy frame offering more strength than the average motorcycle. Unlike three-wheeled motorcycles with their high centers of gravity, the low-to-the-ground Treycycle’s long wheel base makes it extremely difficult to roll over while cornering.
All that may seem like novelty, but people are lining up to buy the vehicles--specifically, 150 people who are already on the wait list. The company is even developing a three-seater “family” trike. For now the company will roll out two Treycycles every three weeks, but as demand dictates they will grow the company further--perhaps to as many as 130 people within a year. That’s good news for a region packed with engineering talent but without enough industry to employ all the smart people falling out of NASA programs.
For career Space Coasters, finding new ways to apply their know-how is a matter of pride. Hence the specialized serial number plates, which also read: “Made on the Space Coast in the Sunshine State.”

Waterless Washing Machine Levitates Laundry and Cleans It With Dry Ice

Waterless Washing Machine The spherical drum floats through magnetic levitation. Elie Ahovi
It makes my day when new technology promises to make life’s most tedious tasks more interesting. Take laundry, for example. I would loathe it so much less if I had a friendly robot to help me fold my socks. Or perhaps if I had this waterless washing machine, which would levitate my clothes and scrub them clean with dry ice in a matter of minutes.
The Orbit uses a battery-filled ring to levitate a supercooled superconductive metal laundry basket. The basket is coated in two layers of shatterproof glass and chilled using liquid nitrogen. The batteries inside the ring produce a magnetic field, and the basket levitates inside this field as its electrical resistivity drops.
The laundry orb, which is opened and controlled using a ceramic-based touchscreen interface, blasts sublimated dry ice at supersonic speeds toward your clothes. The carbon dioxide interacts with the organic materials in your laundry and breaks them down. Then the dirt and grime is filtered out through a tube that you can rinse, and the CO2 is removed and re-frozen (though it’s not clear how, because this would require lots of energy). Voila, clean and dry clothes.
At this point it’s just a concept by designer Elie Ahovi, but it’s not hard to imagine these types of cleanerballs in apartments of the future. Anything that will cut down on time spent doing laundry.

Wind-Powered Car Travels At Twice the Speed of the Wind

Which sounds weird but actually makes perfect sense

Blackbird Rick Cavallaro via Wired
A couple of years back, Rick Cavallaro and his wind-powered car--Blackbird--silenced an online debate about whether its possible for a wind-powered vehicle to move downwind faster than the speed of the wind itself by going out and outrunning the wind. Now, Cavallaro and company have reconfigured their car to travel upwind and proved that it’s possible to travel upwind at more than twice the speed of the headwind, setting what has to be a record for upwind terrestrial sailing.
That’s not quite as big of a bombshell as the downwind run back in 2010, in which a lingering and sometimes vitriolic physics debate was quashed when Cavallaro recorded downwind speeds at 2.86 times the speed of the wind. But this time he’s managed to log 2.01 times the speed of the wind going upwind--still a significant feat.
And also a counter-intuitive feat, though when you really think about it the physics are the same as a sailboat tacking upwind. The turbine blades act as sails, turning to create power. Rather than having a keel to counteract the push of the headwind and maintain the proper upwind direction, Blackbird’s transmission and wheels have been designed to do that job.
More on Blackbird over at Wired’s Autopia.
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