eROCKIT – 50mph electro-assist bicycle

Paul Raven @ 16-07-2009

File under “wow, gimme one of those!” – the eROCKIT bike is described by its creators as “a new vehicle category, the human-machine-hybrid”. A trifle hyperbolic, perhaps, but it’s still pretty awesome. Watch:

The eROCKIT bridges the gap between the regular two wheeler categories. On one side the muscle-powered two wheelers, on the other side, the motorcycles. The eROCKIT concept requires a continuous muscle deployment from the rider. The vehicle’s electronic system multiplies this muscle power and deploys it as vehicle propulsion.

For the first time in the history of vehicle construction, the driver’s physical power becomes just as relevant for driving dynamics and speed as technical vehicle properties and engine power.

Send me one for review, please! Because I sure as hell can’t afford the €33,000 price tag… [via NextBigFuture]

Our new cyborg insect overlords

Tom James @ 14-07-2009

livesilkmothContinuing the robotic insect theme: researchers in Japan are developing the means to recreate the brains of insects in electronic circuits and thus modify existing insect brains to perform useful tasks, like finding narcotics, and earthquake victims:

In an example of ‘rewriting’ insect brain circuits, Kanzaki’s team has succeeded in genetically modifying a male silkmoth so that it reacts to light instead of odour, or to the odour of a different kind of moth.

Such modifications could pave the way to creating a robo-bug which could in future sense illegal drugs several kilometres away, as well as landmines, people buried under rubble, or toxic gas, the professor said.

Kanzaki also observes how remarkably adaptable biological organisms are:

“Humans walk only at some five kilometres per hour but can drive a car that travels at 100 kilometres per hour. It’s amazing that we can accelerate, brake and avoid obstacles in what originally seem like impossible conditions,” he said.

Our brain turns the car into an extension of our body,” he said, adding that “an insect brain may be able to drive a car like we can. I think they have the potential.

It certainly raises interesting questions about how to achieve intelligent machinery: why reinvent the wheel creating strong AI? We can reverse engineer animals that fly or hunt then adapt them to our purposes.

[from Physorg][image from Physorg]

GM to make own batteries

Tom James @ 14-01-2009

merbraWith the wind firmly in the sails (lolwhut?) of hybrid cars auto giant GM is to get into the electric battery business:

The company also plans to increase its in-house battery development by building a 31,000-square-foot battery lab and hiring hundreds of battery engineers. GM is also working with a battery-engineering program at the University of Michigan to train new engineers. The lack of qualified and experienced battery engineers in the United States has been one of the big challenges facing battery startups such as A123 Systems. Most advanced battery production takes place in Asia, and this could hold back a switch from conventional vehicles to electric ones in the United States.

Technology Review have also created an interesting infographic of how a hybrid car works.

[from Technology Review][image from jaqian on flickr]

New Toshiba batteries recharge to 90% in 5 minutes

Tomas Martin @ 11-12-2007

Rapid charge, long lifetime, no explosions. Where’s the catch?Toshiba has reported that it plans to launch a new range of SCiB batteries in March 2008 that charge up to 90% capacity in just five minutes and have a lifetime of 5000 charges without much reduction in charge (an effective lifetime of 10 years). The two versions, 2.4V and 24V, shouldn’t explode either, which is always a bonus. Although this battery is designed primarily for the hybrid car and electric bicycle market, as Engadget and DailyTech comment this would be incredible in the laptop market…

[via Engadget, image by Toshiba via DailyTech]

UK government green-lights hybrid embryo research

Paul Raven @ 06-09-2007

In a rare move of clear-eyed sanity, the British government has given scientists provisional permission to create non-viable human/animal hybrid embryos – for research purposes. Apparently surveys discovered that – once the actual limits and realities of the science were explained – most people were “at ease” with the idea. Perhaps once it’s seen to be safe, attitudes elsewhere may loosen up as well.