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Tag Archives: electric

Students Working On Futuristic Looking Bike With Spherical Wheels

Wheels, it turns out, are very passé. Balls is where it’s at. At least that’s what a student team from the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering at San Jose State University is out to prove with the above early prototype of the Spherical Drive System, a self-balancing electric bike that rolls on spheres friction-driven by three off-center rotors. This setup should technically give the vehicle omni-directional manoeuvrability. Why? Because the future, that’s why. And also because the students believe it to be safer than conventional bikes, and that it would provide the rider with more driving freedom. We… buy the freedom thing, but we’re not sold on the safety part.

Still, the balls themselves are solid, made from carbon fiber and fiberglass with an industrial rubber coating, and the team has already taken delivery of them along with other essential parts. They’re still assembling the prototype as well as working on the software and they hope to have it ready to test by the end of 2012. Obviously since this is a student project, it’d be really optimistic to expect fast development and commercial availability any time soon, although they are looking for sponsor. Consider this project a proof of concept for now, a concept for which there may not even be a demand. But hey: the future!

Hit the jump for pics and links.

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Brammo Empulse Electric Bike Has Actual Clutch And Gear Transmission

By David Ponce

The thing about most electric vehicles is that there’s no real need for the traditional gears, or even a clutch for that matter. While some say this can be more efficient, it also produces a driving feel that’s completely alien and upsetting to purists. The Brammo Empulse electric bike tries to alleviate some of that pain by introducing the

“Integrated Electric Transmission (IET™) – IET™ is a mechatronic propulsion unit that emulates the feeling and performance of a traditional internal combustion engine, with a specially developed electric motor, clutch and gear shift, that enables the 2012 Empulse to accelerate hard from the line up to a high top speed, something that is just not possible to achieve with a single ratio electric motorcycle.

The bike is also the first to feature water cooling and its battery will be fully charged in 8 hours. With a full charge you should get a 121 mile city range, 56 mile highway and a combined 77 miles. There’s a 100mph top speed and two driving modes: Normal (limited acceleration and top speed) for added range and Sport for the reverse combination. Assuming 13 cents /kWh for electricity, it’s going to cost you roughly $4 for 400 miles of range and at current gas prices, that works out to 336mpg. Unless we screwed up our calculations somewhere.

In any case, expect to pay $16,995 for the Empulse and $18,995 for the Empulse R, which features carbon fiber accents and fully adjustable front and rear suspension. The company is accepting pre-orders now.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ GearPatrol ]

This Is A Levitating Light Bulb

This isn’t ground breaking stuff above, but it’s nice to see what a little ingenuity can produce. Created by one Chris Rieger, it’s a 3W LED light bulb that’s 1) levitating and 2) being powered completely wirelessly. Obviously… since it’s levitating. How is this done?

Levitation is managed by a permanent magnet on the light assembly and an electromagnetic coil hidden on the other side of the top panel for the enclosure. That coil uses 300 meters of 20 AWG wire. A hall effect sensor is used to provide feedback on the location of the light unit, allowing the current going to the coil to be adjusted in order to keep the light unit stationary. When working correctly this draws about 0.25A at 12V.

Wireless power transfer is facilitated by a single large hoop of wire driven with alternating current at 1 MHz. This part of the system pulls 0.5A at 12V, bringing the whole of the consumption in at around 9 Watts. Not too bad. Check out [Chris’] demo video embedded after the break.

We’re a little sad that this kind of stuff isn’t commercially available and is only ever seen as cool proof-of-concept videos online. Why? Probably because no one thinks they can make money off this. We disagree. We’d pay top dollar to have these around the office.

[ Project Page ] VIA [ UberGizmo ]

Plug Power Dongle Frees Up Some Power Bar Space

By David Ponce

Bulky transformers are bad power bar neighbours. They’re bulky because physics dictates that they must be so, despite manufacturer’s best efforts to trim them down and shape them in ways that are more accommodating to other simpler transformer-less plugs. The Plug Power dongle you see above tries to alleviate the issue. It’s essentially a mini extension cord that lets you plug in your bulky transformer away from the main power bar. When not in use, you simply plug it into itself to make it compact and easy to transport.

It’s in the Quirky production pipeline and is expected to sell for $5. Yet another one of those essential road warrior accessories.

[ Product Page ]

ZBoard Electric Skateboard Doesn’t Need Handheld Controller

By David Ponce

That headline right there pretty much sums up why the Zboard is worthy of mention. But don’t take that lightly. If you’re going to opt for the electrically powered four-wheeled-wooden-board locomotion, controlling the throttle with a knob in your hand is a decidedly inelegant way to go about it. The ZBoard instead opts for two pressure sensitive pads located in front and at the back of the board; lean forward to go, and back to slow down. There’s even regenerative breaking for greater efficiency. The 400W motor on this little board will take you up to 17mph for about 10 miles, and if the video is any indication of real life performance, it looks like a lot of fun. There are two versions, the Pro and Classic. The prices are $749 and $499 respectively, while the differences seem to amount to the type of battery used: Li-Ion in the Pro and Lead Acid in the Classic. This ekes out more performance out of the pro, so the Classic’s top speed is 15 mph and has a range of only 5 miles.

You can pre-order now, with shipping in mid March.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Product Page ]

How To Brick Your Tesla

By David Ponce

So this story is a little shocking. It turns out that if you let your Tesla’s battery fully discharge, it becomes essentially destroyed. At that point, the car is one large brick. Nothing will work: you won’t even be able to turn the wheels so it can be towed conventionally. But it gets worse, much worse. If this happens, Tesla charges you $40,000 or so to get a new set of batteries. “Oh, but the waranty should cover it!” you’ll say. Nope, it specifically doesn’t. “Ok then, insurance will take care of it.” Wrong again. Insurance companies specifically do not cover this. Let the batteries go empty = $40,000 out of your account. “Ok, well, shoot… but maybe Tesla will let me finance that…” Wrong. Again. You pay in full, or you’ll be asked to get your expensive brick out of the dealership.

For something like this to happen isn’t that hard. Drive the car around so that it’s at, say, 50% charge and leave it at the airport for a week or so. Or park it in your own garage, but use an extension cord (as opposed to proper charging cables). Heck, you can think of a number of ways this could happen. And happen it did, to at least 5 devastated clients.

Tesla at the moment is in a bit of a predicament as it has to walk the fine line between aggressively warning its customers of the potential danger, and talking about it too much and risk spooking buyers off. And it’s even doing some potentially shady things (like remotely activating a GPS module in order to physically go plug a dying car in) to do what looks like some damage control. In official comments on the issue, representatives liken the problem to “making regular oil changes” and “maintaining a proper level of care”. Batteries, similarly, should never be allowed to fully discharge.

Well, we don’t know. Maybe this is a new class of problems that a new class of vehicles brings with it. Whatever the case, you should read the longer article at the link below. It’s pretty interesting.

[ How To Brick Your Tesla ]

Boxx Electric Bike Looks Like A Suitcase, Seems Really Useful

By David Ponce

Try for a second to get past its strange appearance; this is an actual working electric bicycle with decent specs. On a standard configuration you will get 40 miles per charge. An upgrade doubles that. And the standard configuration charges the battery back up in 4 hours, the upgrade cuts that down to 1. The 1 meter sq. (36 inches sq.) device weighs 120 lbs and can carry a rider tipping the scales from 90-300 lbs. It goes up to 28mph to 35mph, a speed which is electronically limited depending on regional moped laws. The all aluminum construction features a glove box, a cargo bay, an all LED dot lighting system with hazzards. And the list goes on. This thing is pimped out.

And it’s expensive. At $4,000 to start, this isn’t an impulse buy, but damn if you won’t be the coolest kid on the block riding around on this thing. And it does appear like it will be available this year.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Technabob ]

Plug Hub Declutters Your Work Area

By David Ponce

Sometimes it’s products that solve the smallest of annoyances that we find the most appealing. Like that flustercuck of cables under your desk. Look at it right now. You find that pretty? Admittedly this is not a huge problem, although for the tidier amongst us it can be quite the nightmare. That’s why we like the Plug Hub. It’s a plastic case that features three winding posts to wrap excess cable around, a base to accommodate a power strip and a door to hide all that business from sight. You can leave it right on the ground or even screw it to a wall. It’s an elegant solution fully deserving the $29 price, at Quirky.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Wired’s Gadget Lab ]

spnKiX, The Electric Rolling Shoe Things

By David Ponce

Walking, as they say, is very last century. Why exert yourself in any form when you can get technology to do it for you? Taking a step in the right direction (get it?), the spnKiX motorized shoes, from product designer Peter Treadway, let you get around without walking around. You simply put them on (while still wearing your regular shoes) and off you go. A hand-held remote controls your speed, which tops out at 10mph with a range of 2 to 3 miles. It’s not much, really, but maybe enough for a quick trip to the grocery store. Or walking the dog. Charging then takes about 2 hours. They’re made from fiber reinforced Nylon plus Aluminum, and the batteries are lithium ion.

Peter has already made over 30 prototypes of the spnKiX and is ready for prime-time. But he needs your help with the quintessential Kickstarter campaign. He’s trying to raise $25k, with a single pair of the motorized shoes setting you back $375. $950+ gets you a special edition with black wheels. If all goes well, you’d get your shoes by March 2012.

Hit the jump for video and links.

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