Eye-catching Future Car Designs

There are already a growing number of cars on the road with technology and designs that were seen as the work of science fiction not too long ago. Hybrid cars are growing in number, and there now exists sports cars that are exclusively electric. The US state of Nevada has even allowed street-legal driverless cars. But what are the next advances in the automobile industry? Take a look at the following.

The Designs of Brian Malczewski

A recent contest created by EcoMotors asked designers to come up with models based on their opposed piston, opposed cylinder (OPOC) engine. Because the shape of an OPOC engine is lower, shorter, and wider compared to a normal internal combustion engine, the cars had a very unique shape. The winner of the contest was industrial designer Brian Malczewski with this sedan concept:

Source: Car Body Design

Malczewski also creates models with interesting interiors such as this one for a Kia Sportage concept:


Source: Brian Malczewski

Exotic Materials, Unorthodox Cars

Innovation can also come in the materials used. There are many that mention carbon nanotubes, which are stronger than still but thinner than hair. It use is twofold – it can be used for exteriors and for updating the batteries in electric vehicles. An even stranger material is the one Swiss car design firm Rinspeed used for their BamBoo electric car. Its interior uses, as you can guess, bamboo.


 Source: Car and Driver

Drive Different

Could you imagine that Steve Jobs was also fascinated by automobiles? As part of his overall plan to spread the Apple brand past computers as he had with the iPod and iPhone, he at some point considered driving his car obsession right into the automobile industry though an iCar. This only came to light during the trial between Samsung and Apple over smartphones. With his death, the iCar may not come to pass, but maybe current CEO Tim Cook might take the idea seriously again.


Source: Intelligent Computing

These are just the beginning of advanced cars. New ventures like Volkswagen’s People’s Car Project are already producing ideas like music-tuned Beetles and cars that hover. Will those outrageous concepts send other future cars to used car dealerships before they even leave the factory? The only way to know is to go to one and find out.

Story by: Jesus Garay


Campaign launched to build Babbage''s steam-powered computer

Emma Woollacott

A campaign has been launched to build the first working model of Charles Babbage”s Analytical Engine – 173 years after it was designed.

The nineteenth-century mathematician produced detailed drawings of the steam-powered, general-purpose computer, which are now held at London”s Science Museum.

Parts of the machine have been constructed several times, by babbage himself, his family and others. But although his Difference Engine finally became a reality in 1991 and can be seen at the Science Museum no full version of the Analytical Engine has ever been created.

“What a marvel it would be to stand before this giant metal machine, powered by a steam engine, and running programs fed to it on a reel of punched cards,” says programmer and blogger John Graham-Cumming, who has launched the campaign.

“And what a great educational resource so that people can understand how computers work. One could even imagine holding competitions for people (including school children) to write programs to run on the engine. And it would be a way to celebrate both Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace. How fantastic to be able to execute Lovelace”s code!”

It won”t be easy. Unlike the Analytical Engine, for which Babbage left a complete set of blueprints, the Analytical Engine was still a work in progress at the time of his death.

The first stage of the project, therefore, would be to go carefully through all the different versions to devide which one to build from.

Graham-Cumming is attempting to raise funds for the project, which would require several people to work on it, as well as some rather expensive materials. He says that, when complete, the machine would be donated to either the Science Museum or the National Museum of Computing.

Graham-Cumming has a long way to go. He”s asking people to sign up here and pledge £10/$10, saying he reckons he needs about 50,000 people. So far, 2,403 have agreed.


Windstalk concept is a wind farm without the turbines

The Windstalk concept would generate electricity from the wind without turbines.  Click image for more pictures.

By Darren Quick

Wind turbines are an increasingly popular way to generate clean energy with large-scale wind farms springing up all over the world. However, many residents near proposed wind farm sites have raised concerns over the aesthetics and the low frequency vibrations they claim are generated by wind turbines. An interesting Windstalk concept devised by New York design firm Atelier DNA could overcome both these problems while still allowing a comparable amount of electricity to be generated by the wind.

Devised as a potential clean energy generation project/tourist attraction for Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City, the Windstalk concept consists of 1,203 carbon fiber reinforced resin poles, which stand 55 meters (180 feet) high and are anchored to the ground in concrete bases that range between 10 and 20 meters (33-66 ft) in diameter. The poles, which measure 30cm (12 in.) in diameter at the base, tapering up to a diameter of 5cm (2 in.) at the top, are packed with a stack of piezoelectric ceramic discs. Between the discs are electrodes that are connected by cables that run the length of each pole – one cable connects the even electrodes, while another connects the odd ones.

So, instead of relying on the wind to turn a turbine to generate electricity, when the pole sways in the wind, the stack of piezoelectric discs are compressed, generating a current through the electrodes. In a nice visual way to indicate how much – if any – power the poles are generating, the top 50cm (20 in.) of each pole is fitted with an LED lamp that glows and dims relative to the amount of power. So when the wind stops, the LED’s go dark.

As a way to maximize the amount of electricity the Windstalk farm would generate, the concept also places a torque generator within the concrete base of each pole. As the poles sway, fluid is forced through the cylinders of an array of current generating shock absorbers to convert the kinetic energy of the swaying poles into electrical energy.

Because the electricity generation capabilities of a Windstalk field site would depend on the wind, the designers have devised a way to store the energy. Below the field of poles would be two large chambers located on top of each other and shaped like the bases of the poles but inverted, (see the cross section image of the pole base section below). When the wind is blowing, part of the electricity generated is used to power a set of pumps that moves water from the lower chamber to the upper one. Then, when the wind dies down, the water flows from the upper chamber down to the lower chamber, turning the pumps into generators.

The WIndstalk project is still only a concept, so the designers haven’t determined the optimal shape for the stalks, saying computer simulations could be used to devise the best profile for maximizing the pole’s movement and variation. Even so, the design team estimates that the overall electricity output of the concept would be comparable to that of a conventional wind turbine array because, even though a single wind turbine that is limited to the same height as the poles may produce more energy than a single Windstalk, the Windstalks can be packed in much denser arrays.

The Atelier DNA Windstalk concept took out second prize in the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) competition this year that asked entrants to “design a series of land/environmental art installations that uniquely combine aesthetic intrigue and artistic concept with clean energy generation.”


Icona concept offers eco-friendly transport on water and land

Click the image for more pictures.  Icona concept offers eco-friendly transport on water and land

By Paul Ridden

Over the years, there have been numerous attempts to create vehicles that operate on both land and water. It”s fair to say that such designs have generally not caught on. Perhaps it”s because of the fairly limited effectiveness of some of those offerings, or maybe it”s because so many of them have been ugly monsters. Then again, it could be that society just hasn”t found a niche for them yet. By the year 2050 though, we may need to give such craft some serious consideration. Juan Pablo Bernal P has come up with a concept design that certainly ticks all the right boxes for looks, and also takes the environment into consideration.

There have been some water/land craft that have caught our attention, and our imagination, in the past. Certainly one of the most impressive was the WaterCar Python which sped along at 120mph (193km/h) on land and upwards of 60mph (97km/h) on water. Most attempts, however, seem to have ended up looking like a boat with wheels or worse.

For his degree project at Umea Institute of Design in Sweden, which was sponsored by car manufacturer Opel, Juan Pablo Bernal P set himself the task of thinking ahead to the transport needs of people in the year 2050. Dealing with the likely environmental and social challenges ahead, the designer came up with a vehicle with “provocative lines and dynamic looks” that would provide an enjoyable and entertaining way of getting from A to B with as little impact on the environment as possible.

The Opel Icona is described as a family vehicle, yet there”s only enough space for one adult, and maybe room for a child passenger directly in front. There are electric hub motors to the front and impeller drive to the rear, where a keel and sail are also concealed within the frame of the vehicle. When on the water, the rear wheels are drawn up to the body by the trailing suspension arms.

Being able to commute on both water and land, the designer sees such a vehicle opening up new habitation possibilities but, like most concept designs, this one asks more questions than it answers. For instance, Juan Pablo Bernal P does not reveal any significant details about the electric hub motors other than that they are placed at the front. Presumably such hub motors would be sealed against water penetration, but details are lacking.

Of course, mixing an electric motor with a drop or two of the wet stuff has already been done. Nevertheless, some sort of explanation would have been welcome.

Then there”s the question of what exactly provides such a vehicle with the power it needs to head for open land or water. Given that there are quite a few years between now and when the designer sees such a vehicle being developed, presumably the Icona would take full advantage of whatever breaking, clean and efficient technologies are available at that time.


The Shore Tub Bathtub Is Sinking… When You So Desire

The following bathtub is not your average, technologically advanced, but otherwise boring, bathroom tub. The Shore Tub moves up and down in order to offer you an even more interesting bathing experience. The Shore Tub has enough space inside for four or more people so you”d have to make sure you place it in a large enough bathroom, preferably not your living room like in the images below. Once inside the tub you”ll be able to command it to move up and down as you desire. That way you”ll be able to walk in and out of the tub without worrying about falling in the process, not to mention that the whole bathtub movement has to be pretty interesting once you sit down for the ride. Via HeyTeam

More images -> http://www.furniturestoreblog.com/2010/10/04/the_shore_tub_bathtub_is_sinking_when_you_so_desire.html


Solys sun shading system collects rainwater for your garden

By Sukhmani

Designer Fabrice Bardon has envisaged a sun shading system that also doubles as a mist and rainwater collector. Dubbed as Solys, the concept is based on promoting a water economy through both public and personal initiative. Suitable for installation in parks and private gardens, the system can be assembled on the spot. The Solys supports a concave umbrella at the top which collects morning mist and rainwater to fulfill your garden watering needs.

sun shade water collector 2

Cheers Fabrice Bardon!


Pedal Pod Transport

Shweeb Human-Powered Monorails Get Funding from Google

Gary Munkhoff at the Green Living Journal PDX blog believes that Portland, Oregon deserves to have Shweeb human-powered monorails as an addition to   Portland’s current Tri-Met transit offerings. Because of a recent Google investment, Munkhoff’s desire to see Shweeb in Portland has become a real possibility.

In September 2010, Google invested in research and development for the Shweeb human-powered monorails. Shweeb is now determining the location for its very first public use of the Shweeb transit. Whether Portland will be chosen is yet to be seen.

Portland is noted for its innovative ideas, sustainability, and for being bicycle friendly. Well check out Shweeb, because it is all of the above and more. (greenlivingpdx.blogspot)