Sunday, August 18, 2013

Elon Musk details Hyperloop: public transit via aluminum pods and electric motors

Elon Musk is into transportation, whether it's an electric car or a spaceship. Today, he detailed a plan to revolutionize a portion of public transit. It's called the Hyperloop, and it's meant to get folks from SF to LA (or any two cities less than 900 miles apart) in 30 minutes seated in aluminum pods that are hurtled to and fro at 800 miles an hour in a pair of steel tubes. To keep things safe, pods will be spaced five miles apart so that they can stop without running into each other, which means a total of 70 pods could operate simultaneously.
Of course, the real question is how to get the pods moving at those speeds? One main issue with such transport is wind resistance (and associated friction) that increases as the speed of the pods inside the tube escalate. Naturally, one could operate the tubes in a complete vacuum to eliminate the problem, but keeping such a system free of air would be difficult over such long distances. Instead, the proposed Hyperloop system works as a low air pressure environment that is easily maintained with standard commercial compressors. Additionally, "an electric compressor fan on the nose of the pod that actively transfers high pressure air from the front to the rear of the vessel" is there to relieve what air does build up at the front. This compressor fan would also generate an air bearing around the pod to keep it suspended in the middle of the tube, much as an air hockey table suspends a plastic puck. As for power? Well, that comes from external linear electric motors positioned every 70 miles to keep the pods humming along at subsonic speeds. 

Musk's Hyperloop plans don't stop there, either. His proposal accounts for potential pitfalls with building the necessary tubes and powering the system. As for the first issue, the California Hyperloop could be built on top of pylons and run parallel to an existing interstate linking LA and SF to minimize environmental impact and the need to acquire land for the project. Pylon construction also provides the added benefit of being better able to withstand the forces of an earthquake than a terrestrial train can. As for concerns about power, Musk proposes covering the tubes in solar cells so that the system actually generates more electricity than it consumes.
All told, Elon estimates the cost of constructing Hyperloop to be around $6 billion, but the plan is far from set in stone. He's already said that an updated version of the project is in the works and he's offered up his plans as an open design, so he's open to suggestions and improvements from others. And, to prove that his plan can actually work, Musk may build a functional demonstration prototype. Should be easy, Elon. It's not like you have anything else to do, right?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Volvo, Has the solution for recharging electric cars

Electric vehicles, despite being a reality today , many problems still have to be able to expand its use worldwide. Different solutions have been devised in recent years to facilitate recharging of batteries for these cars, but almost all involve a visit to a specialist station.Volvo thought differently.
The project called “Pure Tension” designed by the firm Synthesis Design + Architecture to recharge the Volvo V60 resulted in the creation of a folding structure with solar cells that can be easily transported in the trunk of the vehicle, which will produce energy virtually anywhere.
The idea with this project is that drivers can have a profitable way to recharge the battery of your vehicle. With Pure Tension would eliminate operating costs to replace a discharged battery to power the other to the top , as well as connecting the car to a charging station or directly to the household outlet.

Unfortunately, we still project Volvo has several disadvantages. First, the structure is 3 meters high and 7 meters in width and depth when deployed also takes 12 hours to fully recharge the battery of the Volvo V60 if weather conditions are ideal.
Volvo plans to Pure Tension show later this year as a prototype, but a version that is ready to market is still remote.
However, this development is likely to reach a point where Pure Tension can be more efficient to recharge the batteries and have a size that requires less installation space, with the aim of making the use of hybrid and electric cars much simpler and economic development.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Coming Soon To The Coolest Classrooms: A Box Full Of Robots

Learning algebra with a robot sounds way better than learning it with flashcards, right? I know I would have had a better time learning quadratic equations if I was using them to do something actually interesting, like figure out a quadcopter’s viewing area. That’s the goal of this new robot-filled box made by a company called RobotsLab.
The Box--that’s its name--comes with four robots, many of which are familiar: The fun AR.drone, the Sphero robot ball, a Mobot two-wheeler, and a robotic arm. You also get a teacher tablet full of apps and videos that contain the lessons, a teacher’s book, quizzes and printable student assignments.
To answer the questions, students will have to solve equations, understand scientific forces and think like an investigator. In other words, they have to learn math and science.
It’s a cool concept for a better science, technology, engineering and math curriculum. The only catch seems to be that robots aren't cheap: The Box will set a teacher back $3,500. As IEEE points out, you can buy the 'bots and a tablet off the shelf for about $2,000. The included lessons are obviously of value, but it would be up to a teacher to decide just how valuable. It launches this week at the Texas Computer Education Association conference.