Intelligent Roadways Pave Way To The Future

smart roadway with illuminated tiles

The idea of a road is relatively simple – a durable path from point A to point B. Development of roadways usable for wheeled carriages has been perfected over the centuries. The Romans, for instance, used a base layer of crushed limestone that would let water flow out, preventing clay soil from turning into mud. Some Roman roads were topped with six sided capstones, also known as pavers, many of which still exist today.

The invention of the horseless carriage necessitated roadways that could be used at high speeds. Tarmac, asphalt and concrete roads followed, and thus ends our short venture into the history of roads. Roadways simply haven’t changed much since then. Sure, we’ve painted some lines on them, even etched grooves in some to prevent accidents, but the core technology of the road is the same as it was a hundred years ago. Until now. Consider the Intelligent Roadway.

[Scott] is an electrical engineer, and had dreamed of solar powered roadways as a child. But it wasn’t until the realization of global warming did [Scott] and his wife, [Julie] start to take the concept seriously. Stick around after the break to find out just how smart [Scott's] roadway of the future is.

[Read more...]

Koenigsegg 3D-Printing for Production Vehicles

Koenigsegg with Printed Parts

We’re not surprised to see a car manufacturer using 3D-printing technology, but we think this may be the first time we’ve heard of 3D-prints going into production vehicles. You’ve likely heard of Christian von Koenigsegg’s cars if you’re a fan of BBC’s Top Gear, where the hypercar screams its way into the leading lap times.

Now it seems the Swedish car manufacturer has integrated 3D printing and scanning into the design process. Christian himself explains the benefits of both for iterative design: they roughed out a chair, adjusting it as they went until it was about the right shape and was comfortable. They then used a laser scanner to bring it into a CAD file, which significantly accelerated the production process. He’s also got some examples of brake pedals printed from ABS—they normally machine them out of aluminum—to test the fits and the feeling. They make adjustments as necessary to the prints, sometimes carving them up by hand, then break out the laser scanner again to capture any modifications, bring it back to CAD, and reprint the model.

Interestingly, they’ve been printing some bits and pieces for production cars out of ABS for a few years. Considering the low volume they are working with, it makes sense. Videos and more info after the jump.

[Read more...]

The p.u.l.s.e Parking Light

Pulse[Anool]‘s brother loves his motorcycle, and when he came across a ‘breathing LED’ mod for the brake light, he had to have one. Being tasked with the creation of a pretty cool mod, [Anool] came up with p.u.l.s.e., an extremely small LED controller and a slight tip ‘o the hat to Pink Floyd and the second or third greatest CD packagings.

The circuit is a slightly Apple-inspired mod for the  parking light that keeps the lamp fully lit when the Neutral Detect line on the bike is high, and slowly pulses the LED in a ‘breathing’ pattern when the Neutral Detect line is low. Not a lot of logic is needed for something this simple, so [Anool] turned to the ATtiny45 and the Arduino IDE to accomplish his goal.

[Anool] created a circuit in KiCAD that would plug in to the lamp socket of his brother’s bike. A cluster of LEDs replace the T10 lamp inside the parking light, and a small amount of code takes care of the logic and breathing effect. It’s a great mod, and the astonishingly small size of the board puts him in the running for the smallest Arduino we’ve ever seen.

Videos of the light in action below.

[Read more...]

Retrotechtacular: ROTOPARK is a Futuristic Parking Structure from 40 Years Ago

retrotechtacular-rotopark

Pictured above is a functioning model of an automated underground parking structure which was built and used, but obviously it never caught on widely. That makes us a bit sad, as it removes the need to find an empty parking spot every time you use the garage; and having a robot park your car for you seems very future-y.

The gist of the ROTOPARK system is a carousel and elevator system for parking cars. just drive into a single-stall garage at ground level, take your ticket, and walk out the people-hole. The garage stall floor is a sled which moves down an elevator (shown as blue stalls on the left half of the image) to be stored away in the rotating carousels of cars.

Obviously mechanical failure is a huge issue here. What if the elevator breaks? Also, at times of high traffic we think getting your vehicle back out of the system would be quite a bit slower than the “static” parking garages we’re used to. Oh well, maybe some day. Check out the classic marketing video after the break which shows off the concept, construction, and use of the system.

[Read more...]

Jackal takes it to the streets

jackal

 

[Nick Thatcher] is becoming the world’s authority on self-balancing unicycles.  He’s unveiled The Jackal, his new single wheel vehicle. The Jackal is an upgrade to The Raptor, [Nick's] 2012 machine. The wheelbarrow wheel has been replaced with a much more fitting model sourced from a motorcycle. The 19″ motorcycle wheel improved balancing quite a bit. Wheelbarrow wheels were not exactly quality components, so they definitely made balancing the unicycle more difficult.

[Nick] upgraded his power system as well. The Jackal is powered by a 450 Watt 1020z geared motor. The 1020z is often found on scooters imported from the Far East. The motor controller  is the same SyRen 50 Amp continuous / 100 Amp peak  model used in the Raptor.

The Jackal’s frame has also seen some changes. It’s now sporting quite a bit of machined aluminum as well as [Nick's] standby PVC.  The upgrades have paid off in performance. The Jackal can reach about 20 MPH, however the top safe speed is closer to 15 MPH.

Click past the break to see [Nick] demonstrating The Jackal at Makerfaire UK.

[Read more...]

Off-Road Quad Uses… A Pneumatic Drive?

AirQuad_Outside

Now here’s a really cool engineering degree project — a team of students from a university in Vienna have made a pneumatically driven motor — and fitted it into a quad! (Translated)

The team consists of [Simon Friesacher], [Simon Schedl], [Christoph Sieber] and [Manuel Streith] who all happen to be in the same class as [Maximilian] and [Sebastian] the duo who brought us the VoLumen display, and [Max's] Ripper CNC!

For their main project, the goal was to create an alternative and innovative motor — one that runs off of compressed air, using firefighter’s air tanks. Once they had that figured out, they decided to have some fun with it and put together the Air Quad. It only has a range of a few kilometers, and doesn’t perform quite as well its original gasoline counterpart, but we have to admit, it’s a very slick proof of concept!

Stick around after the break to see a promotional demo of the Air Quad in action!

[Read more...]

Backyard Roller Coaster – Family, Physics and Fun

Coaster Dad Track Segment

This week we have been in touch with [Will Pemble], Geek Dad. After a visit to Magic Mountain in early 2013, his son [Lyle] asked “Why don’t we build our own roller coaster, Dad?”. [Will] couldn’t think of a single reason why not. This was the start of the CoasterDad Project. Excited by the challenge of building a Backyard Roller Coaster, [Will] also thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to teach [Lyle] about physics. Family, Fun, and Physics – what could be better?

The track is made from parallel PVC pipes on a lumber frame, similar to the one we saw for the Manpowered PVC Roller Coaster, but it is more varied and looks a lot sturdier. [Will] is now working on mark II of the cart made from a steel frame with skateboard wheels and has independent axles. He is planning to add a pedal mechanism with freewheel, so you can get a little extra oomph on the rises.

In [Will's] great videos you can get a front row seat on the coaster and see that even though it is fairly compact it has enough rises, troughs and turns to keep you entertained. It may not be quite as exciting as [Jon Iver's] homemade roller coaster, but when finished, the rider will be able go round and round self-propelled to their heart’s content, or till they puke, whichever comes first.  [Will] also explains the theory and practicalities behind making a strong, safe, but really fun coaster. Don’t miss the videos after the fold.

Have you made a backyard roller coaster, or are thinking about building one? Have you got any questions about [Will's] roller coaster build? He’s up for making a video to answer some of them, so please leave questions for him in the comments below. We will post the video later on.

[Read more...]