Tesla releasing patents

Shimano announces XTR Di2 electronic shifting for mountain bikes

I’m not sure why you’d want or need electronic shifting for a mountain bike, but if you do, you’re in luck!  Shimano now makes such a device.  I question the reliability of this though…I just can’t imagine this being comparable to a manually operated derailleur.  Neat gimmick though.  You can read more at gizmag:Shimano announces XTR Di2 electronic shifting for mountain bikes.

The mystery of MH370, and the science behind tracking it

MH370The mystery of MH370’s disappearance seemed to have been solved when Inmarsat used satellite ping data to narrow down its last known location, but a deep sea sonar search of the area has yielded nothing (even though a few audio pings were heard that may have been the plane’s black boxes).  Investigators are re-examining all data, and this is raising questions about Inmarsat’s calculations and assumptions.  There’s a really fascinating article at The Atlantic that talks about this in great detail…how the location is determined, and what some concerns are about the conclusions reached to date.  Cool stuff, and worth reading (quick summary – the conclusions don’t appear to align with the data, and need further explanation).

Adding to the confusion is a geological survey company’s findings in the Bay of Bengal, which they say appears to be a large aircraft at the bottom of the sea, where previous data had showed nothing.  They used a really cool technology…essentially, the data shows what elements are found on the sea floor, and this shows large concentrations of aluminum and other key elements.  However, their findings are being mostly ignored, apart from a couple countries in the area that have dispatched ships to check things out.

Looking ahead…Inmarsat has offered to provide a free tracking service to all passenger airlines, though international agencies like the ICAO and IATA are currently discussing what to do about plane tracking.

2014 Porsche 911 Targa

ku-xlargePorsche showed off its new 911 Targa recently, and it features a very cool new top mechanism that brings back the look of the original, but with much greater simplicity (to the user, not to the car).  Check out the video below to see it in action.  At a price starting at $101,600 (and being a Porsche, options are numerous and expensive), the video might be the closest you get to one.

Eliminating automobile windshield wipers

P1_shanghai_street_v006_pearl_white_v4McLaren is talking about applying some military grade fighter jet technology to their road cars to eliminate the need for windshield wipers.  The system would use a high frequency (~30kHz ultrasonic) transducer to repel water, insects, even snow and ice.  It’s hard to say how serious they are…but when you look at the technology in their latest road cars the 12C and the P1, this isn’t quite as far-fetched as it might sound.  The biggest challenge might be making this technology street-legal…windshield wipers are currently a requirement, and car companies have a hard time bringing new technologies to the road (adaptive headlights, for example).  (via The Sunday Times)

Formula-E car racing

I’m a bit surprised at this…electric race cars are about to become a reality, with the Formula-E race series hitting its 10-team target and scheduled to start racing in the fall of 2014.  Motor output will be limited to 180hp (keep in mind electric cars are more about torque than horsepower), and will be allowed short-term power boosts like F1’s ‘push to pass’ feature.

Check out the video below…the cars sound pretty strange…I’m not sure I could get used to that, it’s just not the same.  Though I have no doubt the racing may be great!

Saietta R – electric sports bike

Saietta-R-Agility-GlobalSay hello to a gorgeous piece of technology, the Saietta R, an electric sport bike from Agility Motors in London.  It’s a bit heavy at 485lbs, but its electric motor puts out ~96hp and ~94ft-lb of torque to provide 0-60 times of 3.9 seconds and a range of 70-80 miles.  Its relatively low top speed of 80mph will keep it off the tracks for now, but for average sport bike use, it fits the bill nicely.  Price will be around $23k when it arrives in the US next year.


hyperloopElon Musk today unveiled the much anticipated details of his conceptual Hyperloop transport system.  Designed for relatively short distance trips (<1000 miles), he claims it can be built at a fraction of the cost of systems such as California’s high speed rail project.  Looking at the design concept and the simplicity, it does make you wonder if maybe he’s right.  The pods travel in a low pressure tube (challenge #1 – design and build hundreds of miles of pressure tight tubing), with a large fan on the front feeding fans that not only reduce resistance to moving through the tube (by sucking up the air that would otherwise cause resistance on the front of the pod), but also blow downwards to create a cushion of air for the pod to ride on (challenge #2 – batteries to power the fan for the length of the trip, or how to charge it enroute).  Magnetic propulsion, naturally, as one would expect for a sci-fi like transport system such as this.  🙂  There are definitely some big design details to figure out, but here’s hoping that some entrepreneur picks up this project and runs with it (Musk himself is too busy to do so).  You can read more about it over at the official blog page.

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