Dutch company Van.eko has designed the Be.e scooter, an electric scooter with an elegantly simple design. The Be.e, which has a 50 mile range, is powered by a motor in its rear wheel that has a single moving part.
The big innovation of the Be.e isn’t the streamlined design, but the production process. The Be.e is constructed using a bio-plastic made from hemp which is press-molded together similar to what’s used to make Formula 1 cars. The Be.e doesn’t move many people, but it represents a bold step forward in the materials used in motor vehicle manufacturing. If the technology proves viable on a large scale, it could be very useful in solving transportation problems in the developing world. Light-weight, low cost, electric vehicles would be a more sustainable alternative to trying to reproduce our western model of steel cars and fossil fuels.
Van.eko is also trying to innovate with their business model. Instead of being sold, Be.e’s are leased by the month for unlimited us, but leasers are able to turn around and sub-lease their Be.e’s to other interested parties. The idea is to maximize transport efficiency by reducing the amount of time the Be.es spend idling. That’s a worthy goal, but it sounds like it’s a lot to manage on the part of the folks who are leasing the Be.es. For that to work, Van.eko will have to build out a very effective support infrastructure for folks sub-leasing their Be.es. The Be.e launches in Amsterdam in 2014- a city that has had success with ride shares. So, it’s possible that this model will be a way to get Be.es exposure to a more broad audience during an initial low volume production run.
Read more about the Be.e here:
Clotbot has ways of making you talk!
…but thankfully, this is a good thing. “Clotbot” is a robot with steerable needles that has been developed by researchers at Vanderbilt University to help neurosurgeons treat tumors and blood clots in the brain. Blood clots in the brain are a serious issue- untreated they can kill up to 40% of patients who have them and the process of removing them can cause structural damage to the patient’s brain.
Clotbot offers a revolutionary solution that is simple in concept but complex in execution. Rather than going through (and potentially damaging) healthy brain structures to get at blood clots, Clotbot has steerable needles that allow surgeons to go *around* healthy structures to address the clots. This technique will allow surgeons to be far more precise in their removal of the blood clots. Clotbot’s steerable needles require only a small opening and surgeons will have access to data from CT scans of the brain to ensure they are targeting the correct areas.
Clotbot is still in the prototype stage, but it represents a potential breakthrough for minimally invasive, highly targeted brain surgery. Clotbot is another example of the innovations taking place at the intersection between robotics and medical science.
Read the article and watch the short video here:
Today is the day targeted by Elon Musk to release more details regarding the design for his Hyperloop project. As I’ve noted a few times in this space, the Hyperloop design is thought to place a maglev train inside a large vacuum tube to create a friction-less environment for very high speed mass transit. This is has been around at least since the 1930s and was deemed feasible by the Rand Corporation in 1972. The Hyperloop could revolutionize travel in the US by rapidly shuttling commuters around the country with less energy and for a lower cost than plane travel today.
Musk currently has his hands full with companies leading emerging tech industries -Tesla Motors for electric cars and Space X in commercial space flight- so he has stated he’ll be unable to make Hyperloop his primary focus. However, instead of sitting on his plans, Musk has promised to make the design for the Hyperloop open source. It will be interesting to see whether the information released today will advance the high speed transit conversation in our country. If the Hyperloop is as technically sound as it appears to be, it could be a viable and lower cost alternative to the extremely expensive high-speed rail projects that have been proposed (and stalled) across the country.
See the infographic and read more here:
Amazing Stories, January, 1939
I love this excerpt from an article that’s over 70 years old. The money quote:
“The day will soon come when rocket trains, suspended between super-magnetic rails, will flash across the country.”
This more or less describes Elon Musk’s Hyperloop project that has started to get some media attention in the last few weeks. Like the Hyperloop, this concept proposed leveraging magnetism to reduce friction and increase the speed of mass transit. This piece serves as an example of how strong ideas must still wait to become viable until material sciences (and the forces of politics and economics) catch up.
It will be interesting to see whether the Hyperloop is similarly ahead of its time, or if it will be a project that moves from the page to production.
La Ruta de las Caras (The Route of Faces) - Cuenca, Spain
Intricate faces sculpted into the natural facade of the environment merge with the already-beautiful and symbolic landscape of the swamps of Buendia in a place known as the Ruta de las Caras. The name translates to “Route of the Faces,” where a series of hiking trails or “routes” take visitors along a cultural and artistic journey of spiritual discovery.
More on the formation of La Ruta de las Caras: The Route of Faces on Atlas Obscua…
This has to be near the top of “Really cool places to go during the day/Horrible place to be hanging out at night” list. You’d really make sure you were out of the park by sundown on this one.
This is probably the funniest graphic we’ve made in a long time…
One of the stranger graphics you’ll likely see today, but a nice way to highlight some extremely large statuary from around the world. The Texas Tube Socks of Ozymandias are particularly entertaining. Although I’d imagine that even with a 40’ thumb, this guy would have some pretty tough luck hitchhiking.
At the recent San Diego Comic Con, a trailer was shown for Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey, which will air on Fox in 2014. I am happy to report that not only does the trailer look *awesome*, but it shows that the spirit of the original series is very much alive. The first Cosmos uses a construct of Carl Sagan flying about the universe in a spaceship created with the best special effects available at the time- it’s nice to see that astrophysicist/rockstar Neil Tyson will be hosting the new series from a ship of his own, using the best effects available today.
Another interesting update from the original Cosmos is that the historical sequences will be animated, which I think is a nice alternative to the “guy dressed in Greek robes during the sequence about Archimedes” presentation of the original.
The trailer was presented at Comic Con during a panel that featured Ann Druyan, who was Carl Sagan’s wife and collaborator, and Neil Tyson. The article below does a nice job of summarizing the discussion of that panel as it relates to Cosmos and the future of human space exploration:
This is the Camatte 57, an electric kit car meant for families to build together as a project. It’s called the “57” because of the 57 colored panels that help give the car a unique personality. The car is made for kids to have fun driving around the neighborhood, but the parental seat also has it’s own steering and brake in case Little Alex turns into Speed Racer. The modular design and electric drivetrain could make building the car a good use of family fun time….but alas, it’s only a concept that Toyota brought to the Tokyo Toy Show.
Read the article and check out the video here: