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Loz Blain

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

The Toyota FT-86 II sportscar concept

Perhaps fearing that the brand is losing touch with "passionate drivers", Toyota is developing a new "affordable" sports car to fill the gap it left when it dropped the Supra and MR2 from its lineup. The FT-86 II concept, built on a Subaru platform under a partnership agreement, is a rear wheel drive coupe with smart styling that's clearly aimed at younger drivers. Toyota showed off the car in Melbourne, ahead of this weekend's Australian International Motor Show - and took the opportunity to give the press an advance look at the Prius C concept, Prius V, 2012 Hilux and all-new Yaris as well. Pics inside.  Read More

The DTV Jackal, beefed up for military use.

We first wrote about the DTV Shredder late last year - a wild, go-anywhere cross between a Segway and a powerboard, with twin tank tracks and a steering/control column to hang on to as you blast through the underbrush at frightening speed. Well, it seems like many fun extreme sports ideas, the Shredder may end up being co-opted by the military. And to that end, DTV has designed the Jackal - a hybrid-drive, weather and waterproof, militarised version of the Shredder that's fitted with twin grenade launchers and a full remote control system that allows it to operate as an unmanned ground vehicle. The Jackal can sneak silently across contested areas in fully electric drive modeand lay an explosive smackdown on hidden enemies with no risk to live soldiers.  Read More

Video Road Test: Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring

We've been looking forward to this ride for a looooong time; this is a truly significant motorcycle. Ducati has stamped its authority on the Adventure bike segment in the only way it knows how. The new Multistrada 1200 S is vastly more powerful and exciting than anything else in the segment. In fact, it's more powerful and exciting than an awful lot of pure sportsbikes. What's more, with its traction control, ABS, fly-by-wire throttle mapping and electronic suspension adjustments it boasts the most technologically advanced computer system we've ever seen on a streetbike - while still being marvellously simple to ride. Loz Blain and Noel McKeegan strap the boots on for the latest in our HD Video Road Tests. Enjoy!  Read More

Scarpar's high speed, all-terrain powerboard set to launch within months

Two years ago, we had a look at the Scarpar - a twin-tracked, high speed all terrain powerboard that seemed like a promising power toy. Well, we've just spoken to Scarpar CEO Andrew Fern, who has confirmed that this unique vehicle is going into production later this year, and he's taking deposits as of now. Basically everything on the board has been changed since the last prototype we saw - it now runs an independent electric motor in each of the two articulating tracks, and the hand-held throttle and brake unit is now wireless. And as Fern describes after the jump, getting it to a production-ready point has been a herculean effort; his design team more or less had to create their own realm of engineering theory to deal with such an unprecedented set of vehicle dynamics. The following interview is a fascinating look into the development cycle of a new product. Most importantly though, the Scarpar still looks like extreme fun, and a remarkable way to launch yourself into the foliage.  Read More

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