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Transportation

Video Meet the Makers of an Exotic (Partially) 3-D Printed Car (2 Videos) 25

Last month, in a story headlined 3D Printed Supercar Chassis Unveiled, we promised video interviews with builders Kevin and Brad "in the near future." Here they are. First, we have Kevin Czinger, Founder & CEO of Divergent Microfactories. He says the way we build cars is more important from an environmental standpoint than how we fuel them, and that the way we make cars now is a lot less efficient and a lot more expensive than it needs to be. Divergent's first demo vehicle, the Blade, is a tandem-seating 700 HP supercar its makers say does 0 - 60 in 2.5 seconds. Price? No word yet, but it's safe to assume "plenty" might be an accurate guess.

In the second video, Blade project lead Brad Balzer goes into detail about how, why, and where they use 3-D printing, and explains the modular nature of their car chassis design. He says they don't need to change many parts to go from ultra-sports car to pickup truck. He also says that while Divergent Microfactories is working on cars right now, their manufacturing system can be applied to many different industries. Indeed, their long-range goal is to help people build microfactories making many different kinds of products faster, more flexibly, and for less money than it takes to make similar manufactured items today.

Note: The transcript covers both videos and has a little 'bonus' material in it, too.
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Video Make a Kids' Power Wheel Toy Awesome for $500 (Video) 39

You can spend less than $500 if you like. That's the maximum amount allowed if you're competing in the Power Racing Series. Interviewee Josh Lee is a member of the Southern Polytechnic State University Electric Vehicle Team. The modified electric 'ride on' toy they showed off and raced at Maker Faire Atlanta (where this video was made) is just one of their many projects. And, obviously, they're just one of many 'slightly deranged' teams involved in learning about and building electric vehicles. (Alternate Video Link)
Transportation

Video Ben Harris Shows off the Electric Vehicle Challenge Simulator (Video) 37

EVChallenge is a high school student project that converts gas cars to electric. This isn't a "someday" thing. It's already happening, and Ben has worked hard to make it so in N. Carolina. There are other people around the world doing EVChallenge, and Ben does a number of things besides EVChallenge. His Kickstarter project, for instance, was called Help Bring Back Quality Science Kits (STEM Education). It closed on October 17 after 119 backers came through with $6523, which was a lot more than Ben's modest $3500 goal. This takes us to Ben's EVChallenge simulator itself, which is a simple "breadboard" simulation of the circuitry that drives an electric car so students can learn EV (electric vehicle) principles before they work on the real thing.

This is all part of the Harris Educational effort to make science teaching fun and interesting, not just with electric cars and simulations of their circuitry, but with other kits and even training services. As Ben's Training Services page says, "Harris Educational can provide face-to-face or online training for individuals, small groups, or companies. We can also help you design and implement your own training programs." So besides the video interview here, please look at Ben's pages, this article about his work, and check some of the videos on his assorted pages. It's good stuff, especially if you have (or plan to have) kids in high school. (Alternate Video Link)
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Video Collin Graver and his Wooden Bicycle (Video) 71

This is not a practical bike. "Even on smooth pavement, your vision goes blurry because you're vibrating so hard," Collin said to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter back in 2012 when he was only 15 -- and already building wooden bicycles. Collin's wooden bikes are far from the first ones. Wikipedia says, "The first bicycles recorded, known variously as velocipedes, dandy horses, or hobby horses, were constructed from wood, starting in 1817." And not all wooden bicycles made today are as crude as Collin's. A Portland (OR) company called Renovo makes competition-quality hardwood bicycle frames -- for as little as $2200, and a bunch more for a complete bike with all its hardware fitted and ready to roll.

Of course, while it might be sensible to buy a Renovo product if you want a wood-framed bike to Race Across America, you won't improve your woodworking skills the way Collin's projects have improved his to the point where he's made a nice-looking pair of wood-framed sunglasses described in his WOOD YOU? SHOULD YOU? blog. (Alternate Video Link)
Sci-Fi

Video Where are the Flying Cars? (Video; Part Two of Two) 66

Yesterday we ran Part One of this two-part video. This is part two. To recap yesterday's text introduction: Detroit recently hosted the North American Science Fiction Convention, drawing thousands of SF fans to see and hear a variety of talks on all sorts of topics. One of the biggest panels featured a discussion on perhaps the greatest technological disappointment of the past fifty years: Where are our d@%& flying cars? Panelists included author and database consultant Jonathan Stars, expert in Aeronautical Management and 20-year veteran of the Air Force Douglas Johnson, author and founder of the Artemis Project Ian Randal Strock, novelist Cindy A. Matthews, Fermilab physicist Bill Higgins, general manager of a nanotechnology company Dr. Charles Dezelah, and astrobiology expert Dr. Nicolle Zellner. As it turns out, the reality of situation is far less enticing than the dream -- but new technologies offer a glimmer of hope. (Alternate Video Link)
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Video Where are the Flying Cars? (Video; Part One of Two) 107

Detroit recently hosted the North American Science Fiction Convention, drawing thousands of SF fans to see and hear a variety of talks on all sorts of topics. One of the biggest panels featured a discussion on perhaps the greatest technological disappointment of the past fifty years: Where are our d@%& flying cars? Panelists included author and database consultant Jonathan Stars, expert in Aeronautical Management and 20-year veteran of the Air Force Douglas Johnson, author and founder of the Artemis Project Ian Randal Strock, novelist Cindy A. Matthews, Fermilab physicist Bill Higgins, general manager of a nanotechnology company Dr. Charles Dezelah, and astrobiology expert Dr. Nicolle Zellner. This video and the one you'll see tomorrow show their lively discussion about the economic, social, and political barriers to development and adoption of affordable flying cars. (Alternate Video Link)
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Video It's Not a Car, It's a Self-Balancing Electric Motorcycle (Video) 218

Two gyros under the seat keep this vehicle standing up at a stop, which is easier on the driver's legs than putting a foot down the way you do while riding most motorcycles. And no vroom-vroom sound, either. This is an electric motorcycle. The prototype you see in the video gets up to around 20 MPH, but production models are supposed to hit 100 MPH, and go as far as a Tesla S on 1/6 the juice. So little tiny batteries are all the Lit C-1 needs to drive (up to) 200 miles with the gyros spinning merrily away -- keeping the C-1 upright even in crashes, as a simulation in this Lit Motors YouTube video shows. They claim to have more than 200 pre-orders against a projected retail price of $24,000, which is not shabby for a company that hasn't made a single production vehicle so far. (Alternate Video Link)
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Video Shawn Raymond's Tandem Bike is Shorter Than Yours (Video) 85

This isn't a "both peddlers are equal" bike. The person sitting in the rear seat is in the "control" position. Because of the wide handlebars, he or she can reach around the person in the front seat to steer. The person in the front seat can't really do much except enjoy the ride, or maybe lean back and whisper a sweet nothing or two if the person in the back seat is someone the front-seater loves. The bike is called the UnaTandem (turn music off in the lower left corner of the page), and Shawn Raymond tried to get Kickstarter funding for it back in 2012 but only raised $1651, which was quite a ways short of his $70,000 goal. So, with Kickstarter in the rear view mirror, Shawn is trying to do his own crowdfunding. Will this work? Can he get enough people to buy into his idea of a tandem bike that gives you the old "riding on the handlebars" feeling to get his company off the ground? Can he use his own money (assuming he has enough) to build and sell his tandem bikes without bringing in outside investors at all? And then there's the price problem. Shawn says he's looking at a retail price in the $850 range. That may not seem like a lot to some, but you can buy 10 Walmart bikes for that much. Or four or five bikes from specialty bicycle or sporting goods stores. Despite the high price, some will undoubtedly buy these short tandem bikes and like them. But will enough people buy enough of them to make this a viable business? Shawn obviously thinks so. (Alternate Video Link)
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Video Not A Hoverboard, but Close (Video) 66

It's a one-wheeled, self-balancing electric skateboard called (appropriately) the Onewheel. You can't buy one right now. They've already shipped all of their first production runs and still have Kickstarter backers' orders to fulfill. After that, though, they might make one for you -- if you come up with a deposit of $500 against a total price of $1499. Plus shipping. This may seem like a lot of money to some people, but enough folks have found it reasonable that Onewheel has sold out not just its first production run but also the second one. Their Kickstarter success was nothing short of amazing, with $630,862 raised although their goal was only $100,000. Inventor Kyle Doerksen is the man behind Onewheel, but he's also one of the people behind Faraday Bicycles, whose flagship model costs $3500 -- and whose initial production run is also sold out -- which means there are people around who are willing to pay $3500 for an electric bicycle instead of putting a motor kit on a used Schwinn for a total cost of less than $500 (with a little careful shopping). Alternate video link.
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Video Electric Bikes Get More Elegant Every Year (Video) 164

Tim Lord first saw Faraday Bicycles at CES, where their bikes drew plenty of attention and a fair amount of media interest. The company ran a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012, and 2014 is when they are starting to ship their pre-ordered bicycles and hope to get new orders for lots more. Tim's travels later took him to San Francisco, where he had a chance to visit the shop where Faraday bikes are made, and to talk with some of the people who are designing and making them. (If you don't see the video below, please use this link.)
Space

Video A Chat with Kristian von Bengtson, co-founder of Copenhagen Suborbitals (Video) 26

Copenhagen Suborbitals says their mission is "very simple. We are working towards launching a human being into space." That doesn't sound so simple, really, but they're approaching this gargantuan task with an intentionally simple approach: a small team, relatively unhampered by bureaucratic hassles, who are taking advantage of existing, off-the-shelf high-tech solutions when they make sense, and low-tech solutions when possible; if the parable of the Soviet space pencil hadn't worked its way into the mythology of space technology, it could have been based on the Copenhagen Suborbitals point of view. I talked with project co-founder Kristian von Bengston about the project's progress so far, as well as what the next steps are. Among those next steps: in summer 2014, the Suborbitals team plans to launch their HEAT2X lift vehicle loaded with the TDS-80 capsule; you can download the preliminary trajectory projections for both the launcher and the capsule.
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Video Peter Wayner Talks About His New Book, Future Ride (Video) 28

We've already done two video interviews with Peter Wayner. Third time being the charm, his latest book, Future Ride, is now out and available for purchase. If you've followed and possibly even enjoyed this string of interviews with Peter, Future Ride might be valuable reading material for you. It's what I call a "futureproofing" book, and in today's fast-changing world being prepared for tomorrow -- even just in the sense of thinking about the many ways our society might change if our cars and trucks drive themselves -- is valuable for business and career reasons, aside from the sheer joy of speculating about what the future may hold.
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Video How Ubiquitous Autonomous Cars Could Affect Society (Video) 369

We talked with Peter Wayner about autonomous cars on June 5. He had a lot to say on this topic, to the point where we seem to be doing a whole series of interviews with him because autonomous cars might have a lot of unanticipated effects on our lives and our economy. Heck, Peter has enough to say about driverless cars to fill a book, Future Ride, which we hope he finishes editing soon because we (Tim and Robin) want to read it. While that book is brewing, watch for some thoughts on how autonomous cars (and delivery vans) might affect us in the near future.
Privacy

Video Author Peter Wayner Talks About Autonomous Cars (Video) Screenshot-sm 50

Peter Wayner is no stranger to Slashdot. Not only that, he's written a bunch of books, plus articles for InfoWorld, PC World, the New York Times, and many other publications. Now he's working on a book about Autonomous Cars. Last year Peter wrote an article for Car & Driver about the privacy implications of vehicle recorders. Driverless cars will bring us a whole new set of problems, questions, and -- no doubt -- legislation. We're hoping to have more conversations on this topic (and others) with Peter in the future, so with any luck this video will be the first of a long series. With all that said, take it away, interviewer Timothy Lord... Update: 06/05 21:56 GMT by T : Peter's book is still in progress, but it's got a website, if you'd like an early glance.
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Video So You've Always Wanted a Hovercraft... (Video) Screenshot-sm 66

What little boy or girl never wanted a hovercraft? Something loud that could travel over water, pavement, maybe even over a plowed field or through a swamp? Ben King obviously wanted one, so after he grew up and got his PhD in physics and found a good job, he founded Lone Star Hovercraft. Timothy Lord interviewed Ben at the Austin Mini Maker Faire, and we also found some video of Ben flying (is that the right word?) one of his hovercraft on a lake that we spliced into the interview to liven it up a little. Vroom!

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