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Loz Blain

Pascal Chretien's prototype electric helicopter takes flight

It's easy to look back at the history of exploration and aviation and feel like there's no mountains left to climb, that the age of the great pioneers is behind us and we're doomed to a future of LCD tanning and monitor hypnosis. But don't try telling that to Pascal Chretien. On August 12, this electrical/aerospace engineer and helicopter pilot took to the air in the world's first untethered, fully electric manned helicopter flight in a prototype machine that he designed and built almost entirely by himself within a 12 month development period. In his 2 minute, 10 second test flight, Chretien beat aviation giant Sikorsky into the record books - but it was not without significant risk. As the man himself puts it: "in case of crash I stand good chances to end up in kebab form."  Read More

Gizmag's Loz Blain comes far too close for comfort during our latest video shoot

It's fair to say we nearly lost one of our team a couple of days ago. Gizmag feature writer and videographer Loz Blain was out test riding the amazing BMW S1000RR superbike with a friend on board when he survived an extraordinarily close call with an oncoming 4WD that had drifted onto the wrong side of the road. As he was filming for a video review, he had a high-definition camera on board to record the incident, so without further ado here's the footage - and a reminder that not all single vehicle accidents are the rider's fault.  Read More

ixxi pixel art rendering of Vermeer's 'Girl with a Pearl Earring'

It's hard to say whether this sort of product will unleash a stream of creativity or a gushing torrent of poor taste. Dutch printing company ixxi has come up with an innovative, inexpensive and very nifty way to print and hang large scale artworks. By breaking the photo or design up into lots of smaller cards, which are later joined together for presentation using funky little plastic x and i shaped connectors, ixxi avoids the prohibitive expense of larger scale printing, as well as making it easy to package a wall-sized piece of art up into a small box. In fact, the same technology lets you visit an art gallery, and take a life size, photorealistic replica of your favorite wall fresco home with you, ready to reassemble and hang.  Read More

The BMW i3 and i8 electric and hybrid cars

BMW has fully committed itself to the battery-electric driving revolution by setting up a whole new sub-brand - BMW i - devoted to emission-free motoring. Now, the i group has released details of two concept cars that look set to become production models within a few years. The i3 concept is a fully-electric city car with an everyday driving range of around 160 km (100 miles) per charge, and the i8 is a sporty 4-seater plug-in hybrid that combines electric and petrol drive to give a good compromise between emission-free commuting and petrol-powered range and performance. Both cars make widespread use of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) to keep weight down, and both offer a raft of fascinating new driver assist and efficiency initiatives that seem likely to make it through to the real world.  Read More

Young Aussie designers talk us through the designs that got them to the Australian finals ...

The James Dyson Awards for young inventors are always a treasure trove of fresh ideas and up-and-coming innovators - so we caught up with 8 of the Australian finalists and got them each to deliver us a 2-minute 'elevator pitch' explaining their designs and the inspiration behind them. The videos after the jump highlight some of our favourite entries for this year's prize, including the winners. See if you can guess which of these young contestants took the prizes!  Read More

EnviroMission's solar tower: coming to Arizona in 2015

An ambitious solar energy project on a massive scale is about to get underway in the Arizona desert. EnviroMission is undergoing land acquisition and site-specific engineering to build its first full-scale solar tower - and when we say full-scale, we mean it! The mammoth 800-plus meter (2625 ft) tall tower will instantly become one of the world's tallest buildings. Its 200-megawatt power generation capacity will reliably feed the grid with enough power for 150,000 US homes, and once it's built, it can be expected to more or less sit there producing clean, renewable power with virtually no maintenance until it's more than 80 years old. In the video after the jump, EnviroMission CEO Roger Davey explains the solar tower technology, the Arizona project and why he couldn't get it built at home in Australia.  Read More

The BMW E-Scooter electric concept motorcycle

BMW has flagged a possible intention to get into the electric motorcycle market with the airing of its E-Scooter concept bike. Designed from the ground up as an electric bike, the E-scooter uses its battery casing as a primary component of the frame. With a regenerative braking system built in and a full charge from a conventional power socket taking less than three hours, the E-Scooter is capable of over 100km per charge, and easily makes freeway speeds.  Read More

BMW's Advanced Safety Concept motorcycle

A safer motorcycle. To some people, the concept completely misses the point. If it was safe, it would be boring, and we'd go find something else to do. Still, safety technology is a very high priority for many manufacturers, and arguably it's BMW that's leading the way in rider assist electronics. So it's interesting to take a glimpse at the Advanced Safety Concept (ASC). Similar to the fascinating Experimental Safety Vehicle that Mercedes-Benz showed us in 2009, the ASC gives us a glimpse at the next-generation technologies BMW is dreaming up to help keep riders from becoming "road crayons," as a friend of mine so eloquently puts it.  Read More

BMW's Dynamic Damping Control (DDC) system - active suspension for motorcycles.

The trouble with setting up the suspension on a motorcycle is that you're constantly compromising. If you want a nice firm ride that's suitable for hard cornering on fast, smooth roads, you're sacrificing comfort on the highway and optimal roadholding on a bumpy surface. Electronic suspension adjustment goes some way towards addressing these concerns - at least you can change your suspension settings without having to get down under the bike with a c-spanner and a screwdriver. Now, BMW is looking to eliminate this fundamental compromise using automated, active suspension adjustment - a system that works out exactly how you're riding the bike at a given moment, what the road surface is like, and automatically adjusts the suspension to make sure you've got the perfect ride at all times. The BMW Dynamic Damping Control (DDC) system is said to be hitting the market "in the near future."  Read More

New middleweight adventure machines. Left: Honda Crossrunner. Right: Suzuki V-Strom 650 AB...

"Adventure" bikes are about as practical and unglamorous as motorcycling gets. They're fairly ugly to look at, they're often ridden hard and put away wet, they're taken to dirty places and they have dirty things done to them. Which to my mind has always made them a preserve of the hardcore rider - these are not ridden by Harley polishers or leather-clad latte sippers, they're ridden by folks that like to get out and throw motorcycles around out where it's tough. So it's encouraging to see that the adventure class is heating up more than ever in 2011 - and two new middleweight all-roaders from Suzuki and Honda now come into a mix that's becoming almost saturated with bikes like the Kawasaki Versys, the BMW F800GS, the Yamaha Tenere and Triumph's Tiger 800.  Read More

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