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):