Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry christmas!

I wish you a merry christmas and a happy new year!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Google Patents Transition To Autonomous Driving For Cars

Google has just been granted a patent that describes a possible switch from a car that is driven by a human to an autonomous driving mode. The patent was written by a group of engineers that includes the winners of the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge.

We have heard quite a bit about Google’s autonomous cars driving around in California. A patent approved by the USPTO yesterday provides more detail on these cars and the technology they may use. The patent #8,078,349, filed on May 11 of this year, specifically refers to the event when a mixed-mode car is enabled to transition from a human driver to an autonomous mode.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Educational television light!

Physicists, biologists and other scientists watch up: Another comfortable TV night: The US American sitcom "The Big Bang Theory" is a real insider's tip.

For more information visit:

Monday, November 28, 2011

On 18 August 1896 Gottlieb Daimler ...

... proudly presented the first truck worldwide.

After his studies of Mechanical Engineering the son of a master baker got to know the designer Wilhelm Maybach in his first job in a mechanical engineering company. This lifelong friendship and cooperation not only resulted in the first benzene-driven combustion engine, the first motorbike (1885), the first engine-driven carriage (1886) or engines for boats, locomotives and airships (1887/1888) but also in the company Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft founded in 1890.

Finally on 18 August 1896 his group presented the first motorised truck of the world, the "Phönix".

A two-cylinder engine with a cylinder capacity of 1.06 litres achieved a power of 4 PS and a maximum speed of 16 km/h. In the open and on iron wheels the driver could go for about 200 kilometers. On 1 October 1896 Daimler-Motorengesellschaft delivered the first truck to London.

Further information:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Who was trained ...

... to become a gunsmith before constructing the first truck?

Monday, November 14, 2011

A giant on Australia's roads

The "road train" is the longest road-driven truck of its kind (it really travels on "normal" roads).

It is 53.5 metres long and pulls up to 4 trailers. By comparison, the longest trucks in Germany measure 18.75 metres.

Further information:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why are the steering wheels of English cars on the right-hand side?

The term left-hand traffic refers to road traffic which, in contrast to right-hand traffic, keeps to the left side of the road seen from the driver's perspective. Left-hand traffic countries are mainly those formerly governed by Britain. There are many theories and explanations for this way of traffic routing.

For example, it is assumed that right- or left-handed people determined the respective standards. Some believe, among other things, that this way of driving, which seems unusual to us German right-hand drivers, originates from the days when we travelled the roads in horse-drawn carriages. In those days, the reins were held on the left, right or in the middle or the vehicle was steered with the left or right hand.

Although this may seem arbitrary, there is no need to worry; a change from right-hand to left-hand traffic is very complex and, therefore no longer feasible.

Further information:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

When was the first chariot built?

A full-scale model of a chariot in a grave in Crete can be dated back to 1 900 B.C. Chariots were already used in Central Asia.

You will find further information here:

Friday, October 28, 2011

High lift rescue vehicle

High lift rescue vehicles save human life even at great height.

The fire brigades have high lift rescue vehicles to save people in dangerous situations at great height. They thus secure the second escape route for trapped persons as required in building laws.

High lift rescue vehicles are special fire engines used to rescue persons, animals and goods at great height. For this purpose a turntable ladder is used. A "turntable ladder" is the movable part of a high lift rescue vehicle which is located above the truck chassis.

Have a look here:
German Youtube Video

Monday, October 24, 2011

On 26 June 1974 ...

... the cashier Sharon Buchanan scanned a ten pack of chewing gum according to the UPC standard (Universal Product Code) in a supermarket in Troy, Ohio.

The code had, however, already been developed and patented at the end of the 40s by two students of the Drexel Institute of Technology in Philadelphia: Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver.

Further information:

Monday, October 17, 2011

When and where was the first bar code scanned...

... thus changing the world of logistics forever?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Shell Eco-marathon

The Shell Eco-marathon challenges high school and college student teams from around the world to design, build and test energy efficient vehicles. With annual events in the Americas, Europe and Asia, the winners are the teams that go the farthest distance using the least amount of energy.

More information:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Trailing Suction Hopper Dredger?

Is it a hopping dredger or is it named after its inventor?

No, it is a swimming dredger used to excavate easily removable sediments such as sand. The self-driven cargo hold suction dredger removes solid material from the bottom of waters through trailing heads and pumps it into the hopper tanks in the ship through a suction pipe. Among others, the hopper dredger is used to deepen ship channels.

The biggest hopper dredger so far is the Vasco da Gama, built in 2000. It was also used for the construction of the Palm Islands of Dubai.

Image source: Wikimedia "Crestway"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"The new mechanical wagon with the awful name automobile has come to stay..." New York Times (1897 article)

The New York Times' mention of the name automobile was the first public use of the term by the media and helped to popularize that name for motor vehicles. However the credit for the name automobile goes to a 14th century Italian painter and engineer named Martini. Martini never built an automobile but he did draw plans for a man-powered carriage with four wheels. Martini thought up the name automobile from the Greek word, "auto," (meaning self) and the Latin word, "mobilis," (meaning moving).
The other popular name for an automobile is the car. The word car is derived from Celtic word "carrus," (meaning cart or wagon).


Monday, September 12, 2011

Pre-college science competition

Society for Science and the Public (SSP) and Intel hosted the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2011 in Los Angeles on May 8-13. The Intel ISEF is the world's largest international pre-college science competition for students in grades 9–12.

It provides an annual forum for more than 1,500 high school students from 65 countries, regions, and territories to showcase their independent research as they compete for over $4 million annually.

This years top prize winners were Matthew Feddersen and Blake Marggraff from Lafayette, Calif.. They won the Gordon E. Moore Award, and $75,000, for developing a potentially more effective and less expensive cancer treatment that places tin metal near a tumor before radiation therapy.

The next ISEF will take place in May 13-18, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Here you can find more information:

Monday, September 5, 2011

As light as a feather

... with a weight of 120 kg including batteries Elektra One is a real ultralight aircraft. The one-seater can fly about 400 km with a maximum flight time of three hours. Elektra is driven by an electric motor HPD13.5 from Geiger Engineering with a weight of 4.7 kg and a power of 16 kW.

In March 2011 the aircraft completed its first test flight. In summer 2011 the PC-Aero team wants to participate with Elektro One in the NASA-/CAFE-Green Flight Challenge competition in California. Two and four-seater variants are planned for the future.

Click here for more information:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Every gramme counts

... when it comes to fuel-saving driving. The company Elmoto shows how you can make even a scooter lighter and protect the environment. The 45 kg light electric scooter of the company holds an L1E approval allowing to travel "from A to B" at 45 km/h with a clear conscience. Here we go - for a price of € 4,498.

Click here for details:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Driving a car using thought control instead of a steering wheel?

An iPhone, iPad or even thought-controlled car - this is made possible using technology which was developed for autonomous cars. It proves: In the future artificial intelligence will find its way into traffic - but only from the passenger seat.

Further information about the project AutoNOMOS:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Who is that - the solution

The Nobel Prize winner who wanted mankind to benefit from his discovery is Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen.

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (27 March 1845 – 10 February 1923) was a German physicist, who, on 8 November 1895, produced and detected electromagnetic radiation in a wavelength range today known as X-rays or Röntgen rays, an achievement that earned him the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901.

Following transliteration conventions for characters accented by an umlaut, "Röntgen" in English is spelled "Roentgen", and that is the usual rendering found in English-language scientific and medical references.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Who is that?

He was the first physicist who was awarded a Nobel Prize and refused to take out patents on his discovery.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Maverick – the flying car

A driving car is just too boring for you and you have 80,000 euros and don't know how to spend them? Just invest your money into Maverick, the second flying car since 1956. The tandem designed two-seater gets off the ground with a propeller and a parachute. The small craft can fly on one tankful for about 2.5 hours at 65 kilometres per hour.

Click here for more information:

Monday, July 25, 2011

Protecting dykes and walls digitally

"fibrisTerre“: The company produces, installs and distributes measurement equipment for uninterrupted monitoring of the health of large structures for early detection of damage.

The entrepreneurs have developed a digital sensor on the basis of one single glass fibre sensing even the smallest earth movement. "Using our fibre we can monitor each structure uninterruptedly and record the strain at any point", says Nils Nöther from fibrisTerre. The sensor - a 1/8th mm glass fibre with plastic sheathing - is placed in the soil, either as an individual fibre or as a mat. The sensors detect any crack as small as it may be along a distance of some hundred metres up to several kilometres and signals it accurately to the metre.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Car made of bamboo

Since 1992 Frank M. Rinderknecht has shown visionary car ideas at the Geneva Auto Salon. This March 2011 the Swiss showed BamBoo and here the name is program. The vehicle reminding of a Rabbit or a safari car is partly made of bamboo. It can be admired in the fair halls at Geneva from 03 to 13 March 2011.

Thanks to the electric drive you can also quickly drive through the dunes and the foldable bicycle for the last few metres to the ocean is also on board - likewise equipped with an electric helper. A motorway is not part of the ideal world of the BamBoo.

Besides the many grey-white-brown creations at the Auto Salon, the new concept does not only raise enthusiasm with eye-catching design by the world-famous New York Pop Art artist James Rizzi. The car provides really smart innovations such as a communication display instead of a radiator grill, an inflatable roof which can also be used as a beach mat or a foldable bicycle for the last few metres from the vehicle to the beach.

The driver can communicate with his passengers via the innovative "identiface", a display-based surface developed by MBtech, a Daimler subsidiary, without having to speak. "Identiface" replaces the radiator grill. Your own facebook contents or news can be recorded and played thanks to a connection with the internet. For this purpose, the development service company Helveting, supported by Zürich Versicherung, developed the "BamBoo community" platform.

Here some technical data: The vehicle provides space for four people and features an e-drive from the group of companies Fräger (German e-Cars) in the front and its power is rated at remarkable 54 kW. This high-torque aggregate "made in Germany" accelerates the 1090 kilogram vehicle to a maximum speed of 120 kilometres per hour. Thanks to the light construction - the steel chassis with lying shock absorbers carries a robust composite chassis in conjunction with the use of polymer plastics - the battery lasts for 105 kilometres.

You can find more information at:

OK, but this whole idea is not exactly new, for example the Shellette Beach Car by Michelotti:

Monday, July 11, 2011

If you cannot decide

... simply take both: Rail and motorway are used by the rail/road Unimog from Zagro.

For first impressions go to:

On the road or off the road, the wide range of implements and auxiliary equipment enables the Unimog to carry out a huge range of varied jobs. On rail the Unimog with ZAGRO track guidance constitutes a high value rail vehicle. The Unimog can perform shunting, track laying work, service, repair and maintenance work, as well as rerailing and emergency rescue work.

It represents a perfect multi-purpose vehicle, meeting and often exceeding the demands of customers and specific rail authorities. A skilful driver can quickly change between rail and road. The requirements to on-rail the Unimog is merely a 5m section of level track.

At Hannover Messe 2011, a Unimog fully equipped with ifm control technology and sensors could be admired. But Zagro also develops other vehicles to the rail/road principle:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Do electric cars have to look like electric cars?

The magazine mobility2.0 reported on 17 March 2011 on page 2 that electric cars have to look different to be successful: For design professor Lutz Fügener of the Hochschule Pforzheim it is clear what makes electric cars attractive for buyers: "You have to see by passing by in the street: That is such an ecological thing."

Do you agree?

To download the German magazine go to:

Further information about the Renault Twizy:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Using the sun to circumnavigate the globe

Futuristic is an understated expression for this sea vessel. Covered all over with solar panels, the world's largest solar-powered vessel by the name of MS TÛRANOR PlanetSolar has been accepting the challenge since April 2011 to circumnavigate the globe as the first sea vessel powered by solar energy - to be precise this means about 40,000 kilometres in 160 days.

The name means 'The Power of the Sun' in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings language because the vessel made of carbon fibre is driven only be solar energy. Thanks to its ca. 500 m² solar modules consisting of 38,000 solar cells on a surface 31 m long and 15 m wide, the MS TÛRANOR PlanetSolar can be navigated without direct sunlight for up to three days. Because the most modern submarine accumulators of the world store the energy. Furthermore four electric motors are supplied by them with current.

According to the technical data the vessel weighs 85 tons, 12 tons of which go to the batteries. The vessel is navigated via a small joystick. 160 days are planned for the 40,000 some kilometre trip at an average speed of about 8 knots.

The circumnavigation is to take the message of the efficient use of renewable energies symbolically around the globe. During the long-term use during the circumnavigation the efficiency of the vessel is also to be tested. German and Swiss companies were involved in the construction of the catamaran. The MS TÛRANOR PlanetSolar shows at present that the engineers have done an optimum job.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Playfully ploughing the fields

With the second part of the successful John Deere farming simulator you can expect again many different agricultural challenges. Take a seat behind the wheel of original John Deere tractors and a number of other agricultural machines.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Jeff Koons Art Car

BMW will participate in the Le Mans 24-hour race with a racing car designed by Jeff Koons. The US American Pop Art artist and the Bavarian car builder are now presenting the project in New York - and Koons showed the first drafts of the loud-colour racer.
Already a few weeks ago it became known that Jeff Koons would design the 17th Art Car from BMW. For the first time today, the artist showed drafts in New York of how he imagines the optics of the car to be like - namely very colourful and very dynamic. That is perfect because at the same time BMW announced that the M3 GT2 designed by Koons will take part in the Le Mans 24-hour race on 12 and 13 June this year. The completed racing car in Jeff-Koons design is scheduled to be presented two weeks before the race on 1 June at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

(Sources of the German text :

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

VW prototype undercuts the 1-litre level... Smart, isn't it?

Volkswagen study XL1 – the dream of a 1-litre car was already dreamt by Ferdinand Piech two decades ago. Now the time has come: The company from Wolfsburg get things going and present an extremely economical XL1 hybrid with gullwings. This premier is staged in the oil-wealthy desert state of Qatar of all places, where the petrol price is of no importance. Volkswagen presented another study of its 1-litre car on the eve of the Qatar Motor Show which takes place from 26 to 29 January. The plug-in hybrid car whose official name is XL1 is designed to consume only 0.9 litres on 100 kilometres which means that the vehicle only emits 24 grams of CO2 per kilometre to the environment. This efficiency is also achieved by the light construction of parts of carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic and the cW value of 0.186 which is obtained thanks to a particularly aerodynamic shape.

(Sources of the German text: and
See also: (VDI nachrichten, 11 February 2011, no. 6)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Building and further developing robots...

For more than 450 kits visit (also available in Switzerland and Austria).
The ASURO ARX-03, for example, one of the most favourite robots from this supplier, is designed for application-relevant project studies for practical use - the smart brain capable of learning.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Driving an excavator is for adults way!

Wayne Engineering has grade 5 students test its new controller and shows how automation can simplify things. Driving an excavator thus becomes a piece of cake.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sea snake off the European coast

"What on earth is that?" was the first thought when reading this headline. Then enthusiasm increased: This monster uses the power of the waves to generate energy, off the coast of Portugal. Operation should have already started at the end of 2007 but even three years later the water snake is causing sensation. 140 m long, the plant is three kilometres off the coast of Agucadouras in the north of Portugal and can supply power seven days a week, 24 hours a day; each of the currently three generators supplies an average of 750 kW.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Electric cars handmade

There are some companies concentrating wholeheartedly on drawing up electric cars. For example Mia-Electric: The Essen company, founded by pharma entrepreneur Edwin Kohl and the energy experts from Conenergy AG, perform magic with clever, electric car mobiles in the design of the former VW top designer Murat Günak. Costs: almost € 20,000.

Or the company e.Wolf based in Cologne: they launch quite a bunch of current-driven cars - among them a small car with lithium ceramics battery for € 36,900.

Whether the e-cars can gain ground at such prices, remains to be seen. But does that mean that the ambitious young entrepreneurs are only dreaming? Rather not because who would leave a safe position at groups such as BMW, Bosch or Microsoft if he is not sure of being successful.

Furthermore the start-ups with flexible structures, powerful networks and short decision-making channels react in a different way and can implement their ideas. "We do not see any competition within the automotive industry", says Klostermann in self-confidence. "Because their electronic-car studies are very much directed towards the conventional car."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Panther becomes a Hollywood star

It has been a secret for a long time but now there is no more denying: The Rosenbauer Panther becomes a Hollywood star at the sentinel prime.

For more information go to:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


At Bochum the traffic goes green...

More than 10,000 employees in the automotive industry turn this city in the Ruhr region into one of the automotive locations in Germany. Industrial partners from the region Bochum - Bergisches Land participate in the development of the e-mobile which is to be used by companies as a van. It is planned to start with a small series of 50 to100 vehicles with a range of 150 km and Opel technology.

Among the participants is the university Bochum where the institute for electronic mobility deals with this project, the car manufacturer Opel and the Bochum initiative ruhrmobil-E. The project is supported by the Ministry of Commerce of North-Rhine Westphalia providing three million euros; another two million are contributed by industrial partners involved.

Using the BOmobil two people and max. 400 kg can jet through Bochum at a speed of up to 129 km/h for 150 kilometres.

Image source: University Bochum

More details:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Energy via an "air carousel"

The start-up Makani Power generates current from a giant air carousel of kites. Its fully automated version of the kite should be installed by energy suppliers as a wind farm. Simple reason: "Our system pays as a large wind farm and not as a single plant for a community", says the founder.

Google has confidence in this idea and has already invested 20 million dollars in the start-up - as a part of its "RE - C" program which has an ambitious goal: Current is to be generated much more cheaply from renewable energy sources than from coal. The American government also sees potential in the new technology and has supported the project by funding three million dollars. Now Makani Power wants to raise another 25 million dollars to develop its megawatt kite to market maturity.

The company plan sounds interesting:

„Makani Power is developing Airborne Wind Turbines (AWT) to extract energy from powerful, consistent winds at altitude. Makani AWTs will produce energy at an unsubsidized real cost competitive with coal-fired power plants, the current benchmark of the lowest cost source of power.

This website highlights the rigorous small-scale testing program Makani has undertaken to demonstrate core functionality and validate performance expectations for the M1, Makani’s first utility-scale 1 MW system.”

Monday, April 11, 2011

Robots learn to have feelings

What improves nonverbal communication between virtual agents and humans?

This question is studied by the psychology professor Nicole Krämer.

The scientist's approach is interesting: "The purpose of these agents is to facilitate interaction with a human being and it is not at all sure that implemented emotions are of any advantage. In my opinion the concept of the "theory of mind" should be implemented instead.

For about 15 years scientists all over the world have been trying to make human emotions a part of IT within the framework of "affective computing". Krämer, professor of social psychology at the university Duisburg-Essen studies the nonverbal behaviour of virtual agents. In an interview she talks about the measurability of emotions and the difficult balancing act between scientific accuracy and useful applications.

More information:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Young innovative ideas

Children make adults look young/immature...

The young inventor Till Opitz from Glücksburg has won the German solar mobile competition based on his inventiveness and except for soldering he has made everything on his own. It is amazing and at the same time thrilling: his solar mobile is a construction of balsa and styrofoam weighing 140 g and even adults ask if they could simply build something like that. From moving bridge constructions and waste sculptures to solar-driven Viking boats - this competition does not set any limits to one's imagination.

More details (sorry, only in German):

Monday, March 28, 2011

At the service of nature

On hilly terrain, in winding waterways, in muddy swamps – “Chico Mendes” feels at home in even the most inhospitable surroundings. Standing 1.20 metres tall, with four agile motor driven legs and outstanding analytical skills, he is perfectly equipped to cope with life in the Amazon’s 370 square kilometre rain forest.

No, this is not an exotic animal, but the latest environmental robot belonging to the Brazilian energy firm Petrobras. The robot was developed with the help of the latest submarine and drive technology in a joint project between the sociological research institution Piatam (Potential Impacts and Environmental Risks of the Petroleum and Gas Industry in the Amazon), the Brazilian state university and Petrobras.

In developing “Chico Mendes”, particular attention was paid to making the hybrid robot adapt to the rainforest landscape as much as possible, minimizing any damage to the very nature it is supposed to be protecting. Easier said than done: Such specifications posed a particularly difficult challenge in drive technology terms. “Chico Mendes” has to battle through mud, water and swamps with the help of the Swiss electric DC microdrives and minimotors. This involves eight of Maxon motor’s DC motors which, with an exceptionally long service life, deliver a high performance in a tiny space.

Apart from the above characteristics, their low energy consumption is another important reason why they were chosen for the Piatam project. Therefore the decision was made to use DC engines from Maxon Motor. The environmental robots are driven by solar power in an initial phase. With an efficiency of over 90%, Maxon’s motors are ideally suited to this type of application.



Monday, March 21, 2011

Energy ideas from the university

Driving without batteries - impossible?

It does not get its power from the batteries but from electric conducting paths laid in the floor of the vehicle. May I introduce myself? The "E-Quickie", the result of a cooperation of 40 bachelor students of mechanical engineering and mechatronics and the international master program mechatronics and micro-mechatronic systems at the university of Karlsruhe.

Image source: University of Karlsruhe, Germany

At first glance the marvel weighing just 60 kg reminds of a recumbent bike with a driver’s cabin - not exactly futuristic since its design would better fit the 50ies. It gets its energy from electric conducting paths on the ground with receivers underneath the car taking energy from the tracks through electric induction and directing it to the car’s electrical hub drive.

Purpose of the project: to show how to move forward in an energy-efficient way.

So it is possible without batteries but not without some kind of auxiliary means.

Image source: University of Karlsruhe, Germany

Further information:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Circumnavigating the world powered only by the sun

31 meters long, 15 meters wide, weighing 85 tonnes and almost the entire deck with photovoltaic modules – these are the dimensions that want to sail around the world.

Already in the 80ies the Swiss entrepreneur Raphaël Domjan dreamt of circumnavigating the world with a minimum of energy. In 2011 this dream will now come true and the catamaran Turanor Planet Solar will set sail.

160 days and 50,000 kilometres need to be mastered. Only four stopovers are planned: in New York, San Francisco, Singapore and Dubai. And they do not have the aim to have damages repaired or man and technology to get a rest: No, the broad public is to be made aware of the reliability and performance of renewable energies and technologies.

But why would you do such a thing?

Domjan and his team want to prove "that we can really change something, that there are solutions and it is not too late, yet.", says Domjan.

More details and impressions:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dymaxion car

The Dymaxion car was a concept car designed by U.S. inventor and architect Buckminster Fuller in 1933. The word Dymaxion is a brand name that Fuller gave to several of his inventions, to emphasize that he considered them part of a more general project to improve humanity's living conditions. The car had a fuel efficiency of 30 miles per US gallon (7.8 L/100 km; 36 mpg-imp). It could transport 11 passengers. While Fuller claimed it could reach speeds of 120 miles per hour (190 km/h), the fastest documented speed was 90 miles per hour (140 km/h).

Isamu Noguchi was involved with the development of the Dymaxion car, creating plaster wind tunnel models that were a factor in determining its shape, and during 1934 drove it for an extended road trip through Connecticut with Clare Boothe Luce and Dorothy Hale.

The 1929 automobile of German inventor and helicopter pioneer Engelbert Zaschka exhibited features that were important to Buckminster Fuller. Zaschka's three wheeled car could also easily be folded, disassembled and re-assembled as could Fuller’s Dymaxion House and many geodesic domes.

The Dymaxion car was a three wheeler, steered by a single rear wheel, and could do a U-turn in its own length. However, the rear-wheel steering made the car somewhat counterintuitive to operate, especially in crosswind situations. The body was teardrop-shaped, and naturally aerodynamically efficient. The car was twice as long as a conventional automobile, at 20 feet (6.1 m) long. Drive power was provided by a rear-mounted Ford V8 engine, which produced 85 brake horsepower (63 kW; 86 PS) through the front wheels. The front axle was also a Ford component, being the rear axle of a contemporary Ford roadster turned upside-down.

Text source:

Monday, February 28, 2011

Once upon a time in a traffic jam

...directly behind a bus a smart engineer was struck by a brilliant idea: Why do buses in heavy-traffic areas not simply drive on stilts?

Image source:

No sooner said than done: The south Chinese company Shenzhen Huashi Future Parking Equipment has found a really futuristic solution matching its own name: buses that simply bridge traffic jams and other obstacles on fence-like stilts.

Image source:

Why making the simple complicated :)


Monday, February 21, 2011

Ecological power deluxe

The Porsche 918 Spyder drives frenzied activity into the gear of electric vehicle specialists such as Tesla Motors.

For too long hybrid cars had been reserved to manufacturers such as Toyota and Honda. German car manufacturers seemed to have been missing the trend. Now Porsche leaves all other cars in the dust with the 918 Spyder, currently the fastest hybrid vehicle in the world. Faster than most sports cars and more economical than any small car.

The elegant green ultra-fast car accelerates from a standstill to 100 km/h in just under 3.2 seconds, top speed of 320 km/h (198 mph) - without any emissions in the "E-drive"-mode because it is electrically driven. It can cover a distance of 25 km. If you want to jet through the city centre you should have 450,000 euros at hand. The new high-performance hybrids from Porsche illustrate one aspect, in spite of the utopian price: Even car producers who were quite hesitant to start with have got wind of the emission restrictions and specifications concerning low petrol consumption.

"In the innovative 918 Spyder concept study Porsche combines "intelligent performance" technology, motor sport high tech and also its classic modern shape language to a convincing statement."

The 8-cylinder engine with a cylinder capacity of 3.6 litres achieves 500 HP at max. 9,000 rpm. The rear drive works with a dual-clutch transmission with 7 gears. An electric motor between the engine and the transmission provides an additional torque. Electric motors on each of the two front wheels ensure 4-wheel drive. The three electric motors fed by lithium ion batteries with 5.1 kilowatt hours provide an additional 218 HP. According to simultaneous calculations made by Porsche the 918 Spyder is even a bit faster than the last super model, the Carrera GT. What remains to be said? Today ecological awareness is more elegant and somewhat more expensive than jute bags and batik shirts.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Intelligent traffic lights

A new project has caused sensation in Lower Saxony and provides a new dimension of driving safety. Traffic lights fully equipped with brand-new sensors communicate with vehicles that also brim over with technology.

The only question is: When will infrastructure adapt to these developments so that investment into illustrious names such as stereo camera, Lidar sensor or a 77-gigahertz radar also pay for the conventional consumer?

What do you think?

Sorry, only in German:

And now we do not even have to take pains to test the tire pressure:

Sorry, only in German:

Monday, February 7, 2011

Bye bye transistor

Hello memristor!

Memristor is a new word creation from memory and resistor because its characteristics are some kind of crossbreed between these two components. "It is a passive electric component in which the resistance is not constant but a function of the history. It is described as the fourth fundamental passive component, besides the resistor, the capacitor and the coil. In contrast to the other three components that came into existence in the early stages of electronic technology, the memristor could not be built before the year 2007."

Image source: Wikimedia, J. J. Yang, HP Labs.

Leon Chua (University of California, Berkeley) described the memristor already in the year 1971 which at that time did not exist as a passive component. The first physical implementation of a thin-layer composite with such characteristics was reported in 2007.

In April 2008 researchers at the HP labs presented a relatively easy-structured layer composite of titanium dioxide with platinum electrodes as a memristor.

Its decisive advantage: A computer equipped with memristors could boot within fractions of a second because its state remains even when disconnected. "For years, we have made such tests", says HP Labs Senior Fellow Stan Williams. Today's PCs lose the contents of their working memories when switched off - the PC has to retrieve the requested information from the hard disk at each start.

The electronic components can even do a lot more: According to Williams, the memristors can also be linked to logic components to execute calculation operations and - in contrast to today's processors - they can also assume interim values and not only the values "0" and "1". They are possible because memristors do not have a constant but a variable resistor which can be continuously adjusted when the applied voltage is changed. The inventor is convinced that one day the hard disks, RAM and digital flash memories will be ready for the museum. These memory media are much too slow and physics restricts its miniaturisation. In already just a few years the HP developers will oust these memories from computers and mobile phones - and one day they will even make microprocessors redundant.

The idea of a memristor came to Leon Chua, today a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Berkeley who formulated the mathematical bases of electrical components in his doctorate thesis at the end of the 60ies. According to Chua's formulas there would have to be four of them: resistors, capacitances (capacitors), inductances (coils) and a crossbreed of a controllable resistor and memory function.