Showing posts with label transport. Show all posts
Showing posts with label transport. Show all posts

17 February 2010

UPDATE - Better Place rolls out first trial

Here's the latest on Shai Agassi's Better Place company. The trial rollout of a few hundred cars has begun in Israel.



See main article >

14 February 2010

Shai Agassi - Joined-up thinking

Shai Agassi, the Israeli/American alternative energy entrepreneur is thinking big. he can't help it, it's in his nature! Better PlaceThe most valuable things he has brought to the table involve lateral thinking, sudden leaps that change everything, paradigm shifts.

Where most of us are content to tweak the status quo, Shai Agassi understands that to make a real change we need to look at our problems with open minds, recognising that the solutions may sometimes be there right before our eyes but that 'tweak the status quo' may blind us to them. We often look without seeing.

Shai's solution to battery powered motoring is close to rollout in a major way, first in Israel, then Denmark, then Australia, and with a range of other places queuing up to follow the lead of these three. Banks are beginning to believe in the business model of his company, Better Place, and are starting to provide loans to enable the infrastructure to be built. Governments are also backing the idea with funding. Car manufacturers, electricity companies and even oil companies and chains of petrol stations are joining in too. This is an idea that is starting to fly.

But if that's not enough, Shai Agassi is also pointing out that we need joined up thinking on electrical energy. Wind farms, electric motor vehicles, battery exchange systems all face issues, but build them all on a large scale and they help one another out in significant ways.

Listen to Shai as he explains.



You can also watch Shai explain his battery swap technology (recorded in 2009).



See update >

28 November 2009

Awesome video, great music, astonishing machine

Here's a fine video beautifully put together with excellent music and sound effects. Mike Interbartalo edited imagery of the Space Shuttle launch process from beginning to end. It really is an experience to watch and listen, even if you're not much interested in space or rockets.

It's strange to think that next year the Space Shuttle will fly for the very last time and there is nothing in place to take over. The USA will no longer be able to launch crewed vehicles into orbit.


STS-129 Ascent Video Highlights from mike interbartolo on Vimeo.

For anyone wanting a bit more detail, you will see the Shuttle stack on the giant tracked platform arriving at the launch pad. There are some details of the engine ignition sequence, the three main engines first, then the solid rocket boosters. You will see the solid boosters fall away and splash down under their parachutes ready to be collected by boat and returned for re-use. You will see the giant external tank released to return to a fiery destruction in the atmosphere. And then finally the shuttle itself heads on into Earth orbit.

There are shots from many angles here. Some from the ground or from the air, some from cameras mounted on the solid boosters, the external tank, and the shuttle itself.

22 November 2009

The coming of the electric car

I didn't know that Shai Agassi had spoken at TED until I read about it today on the Tiny Car| Smart Car News Blog. Shai's company, Better Place, is rolling out fully green, all electric cars and the infrastructure to support them. The plan is that they should be cheaper and more convenient than petrol cars. Quite a challenge!

Here's the video of his talk at TED, it's inspiring and convincing and describes an approach that is simple but original. My own belief is that this idea will fly - it deserves to. Watch and see.

05 October 2009

Electric car - Better Place video

The company that just might get electric vehicles on the road in a major way, 'Better Place', has released a video showing the system in action.



With Israel, Denmark, and Australia rolling out the scheme, and with both Nissan and Renault on board to manufacture the cars, it seems this idea may well be starting to get some traction - (pun intended :-)

See also my earlier blog entry about this system and the guy behind it, Shai Agassi.

30 August 2009

The electric car - but better?

Shai Agassi through his company, Better Place, has developed a system for building and operating electric vehicles - and it might just work. He claims that the car would cost less to buy and be more convenient to use than a Shai Agassi speakingnormal petrol powered car. And the cost per mile would be similar to current fuel costs.

Shai has thought this through in great detail and has persuaded companies (Renault and Nissan) and governments (Israel, Denmark, Australia for example) to make a start on building the necessary infrastructure and the new vehicles. He is a visionary but he also has business acumen, drive, enthusiasm, and good persuasive speaking ability.

Very, very interesting, and well worth watching the video. You will have to watch the sponsor video first (amusingly enough it's for an oil company) but then you can choose individual segments for yourself.

29 September 2008

Up, up and away!

Yesterday was a very special day. Elon Musk's company, SPACEX, launched a small rocket and carried a dummy payload into Earth orbit. So why is that special? Falcon 1 launchHere's why - it's a major change from government funded space programmes to private spaceflight. SPACEX is a privately owned company, and they achieved this all by themselves.

I was so excited that I mailed a congratulatory message to the company, here's what I wrote...

To everyone at SPACEX and Elon in particular. Well done everybody, this is a great day for spaceflight and space exploration. In fact it's a major turning point that will go down in history. On Sunday 28th September 2008 private individuals running a private business have a space programme!

From this day forward, spaceflight is no longer the domain of governments and big business alone. Cheaper orbital access is coming with the Falcon family and in a few years with Dragon - first for cargo, then for astronauts. This is fundamentally different from major aerospace companies launching communications and weather satellites. Why? Because they are in it to use expensive technology developed by or for government programmes. The days of cutting edge at high price are coming to an end, to be replaced by routine at budget prices.

SPACEX - you have changed the world... er, I mean space!

Congratulations!


The company - Elon Musk had already run several highly successful startup ventures including PayPal. He has spent some of the proceeds on innovative technology startups like Tesla Motors and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX).

SpaceX has designed and built Falcon 1 from scratch, it is intended to be cheap to operate, mainly reusable (the first stage is designed for recovery, the second stage is expendable), and simple. Simplicity is really the key, a simple design is likely to be both cheaper and more reliable than a complex design.

The successful flight - After three launch failures, the fourth attempt resulted in a smooth ride to orbit. Falcon 1 has shown it can do the job and the next flight in early 2009 is expected to loft a Malaysian satellite.

This will begin a revenue stream for SpaceX and put the company on track for eventual growth. Meanwhile, 2009 should also see the first flight of Falcon 9, a much larger and more powerful launcher.

Meanwhile, although the first success placed only a dummy payload into orbit, it did so accurately and without incident. The icing on the cake was that the second stage engine was successfully restarted while in orbit, something SpaceX hoped to achieve, but not necessarily on such an early flight.

The future - Falcon 1, Falcon 9, and perhaps Falcon 9 Heavy will meet the same requirements as other launchers already in the market place, but they'll do it at perhaps a third of the price. This suggests that SpaceX may be a name to watch, they might be able to clean up, taking over a large part of the space launch business.

Not only that, the company is building a cargo delivery craft, Dragon, which will launch on Falcon 9 and is also expected to fly in 2009. And a passenger version is already under development and may fly in 2010, carrying up to seven astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

As if even that is not enough, the launch manifest for 2011 has a Falcon 9 booked for Bigelow Aerospace who plan to orbit their third inflatable habitat, Sundancer. It will be the first privately developed and launched craft capable of use as a manned space outpost. Bigelow already have two development systems in orbit, Genesis I and Genesis II, both are still in operation and returning images and other data at the time of writing.

In other words, SpaceX and Bigelow taken together represent the beginnings of private, manned, orbital spaceflight. Now that really is exciting!

See also: Dragon readies for launch

07 July 2008

Improving car efficiency

This is an idea I had recently for improving the efficiency of internal combustion engined vehicles. 'Green' is becoming the watchword of the decade (rightly so), and anything that can reduce fuel consumption is a good thing whether your car burns petrol, diesel, or biofuel.

Engines run much more efficiently when they are at their working temperature. Every increment in starting temperature will increase initial efficiency and reduce the time required to reach full working temperature, a double benefit by starting 'further up the curve'.

For very little extra manufacturing expense I suggest fitting a network of piping between the roof of a car and its internal lining. The network would be fed engine coolant by flow and return pipes that could be concealed inside the front pillars between the windscreen and side windows. The coolant would be warmed by solar energy and would flow to the cold engine when the vehicle is idle, returning to the roof network to pick up more heat.

A miniature pump in the engine compartment would keep the fluid flowing slowly, I suggest the pump should be controlled by temperature sensors so that when the water in the roof network is not warmer than the engine block the pump does not operate.

This scheme would improve the efficiency of any internal combustion powered vehicle, cars (including hybrids), lorries, buses, boats, aircraft etc. It would work while your car was parked in town or at the office or outside your home. On a hot day it would have the added benefit of keeping the car slightly cooler, on a cold day it would enable the heater to start working a little sooner. And the fuel efficiency would increase - especially for those short journeys.

There - I've published it. It cannot now be patented (at least in the basic form described here). It's available to any vehicle manufacturer or add-on kit maker that cares to use it.

18 June 2008

One-wheeled motorcycle

A what?!!

Yes - a one-wheeled motorcycle. It's electrically powered and strictly speaking it does have two wheels, but they're side-by-side. This machine is really a sort of souped-up Segway, but don't take my word for it. Read the original article and for much more information, an article in Motorcycle Mojo.

Riding this around the streets could be quite dangerous. Not because of losing control or falling off but simply because other road users would be so distracted they might simply drive into one another.

I'd love to see this in action, and I'd really enjoy trying it out myself. Surprisingly, the idea of a one-wheeled vehicle goes back at least to the 1950s when Frank Hampson imagined the world of Dan Dare. One-wheeled, gyroscopically balancing cars featured in his illustrations.

I wonder if these will be coming to a showroom near me any time soon?

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