Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Inventors and Remarkable People

Stephane Rousson's Zeppy - pedal-powered airship.

May 1, 2008 Those magnificent men in their flying machines... the first purely human-powered aircraft, the Gossamer Albatross, crossed the English Channel in 1979 with its pilot Bryan Allen pedaling the feather-light winged plane across in two hours to collect the UKP100,000 Kremer prize. This feat caught the imagination of French cyclist Stephane Rousson, who this European summer will attempt to cycle across the Channel pedaling a twin-tilting-rotor helium airship. It's the first pedal-powered airship of its kind, complete with very delicate aerodynamics that mean Rousson will need to chance upon one of the three windless days of the year if he hopes to stay up-diddly-up-up and not go crashing down-diddly-own-down.  Read More

Kalashnikov Burglar Alarm

April 14, 2008 The Kalashnikov has been the common man’s rifle for sixty years and has been responsible for more misery and wasted humanity than any other invention of history. Now an ingenious Afghan inventor, Hanif Molavizadeh, has built one into a burglar alarm - a highly effective, seat-of-the-pants mash-up that includes a cell and speaker phone, sensors, and armed response. Trigger the alarm by waving a hand outside the window of Molavizadeh's one-room home and the alarm sounds. It also calls Molavizadeh's cell phone so he can have a conversation with the would-be burglar via a speakerphone in the alarm, and if he doesn’t like the answers he gets, he can fire the Kalashnikov remotely. He’s working on an equally punitive anti-theft system for his car.  Read More

Martin Cooper and his wife and business partner Arlene Harris with their respective cell p...

April 4, 2008 With around half the world's population expected to be carrying a mobile phone by the end of this year, it's hard to believe that its just 35 years since the first ever public cell phone call was made. Yesterday marked the anniversary of the historical call made on the streets of New York by portable cell phone inventor Martin Cooper, then general manager of Motorola’s Communications Systems Division.  Read More

Barilliant - new system for an old industry

Alcohol is one of the world’s most traded commodities. Central to the liquor industry are the millions of liquor serveries which serves millions of litrer of alcohol each day, a glass at a time. The biggest problem of this massive service industry is shrinkage – around 10-15% of tap beer goes straight down the drain in most pubs. New bar management system Barilliant monitors and minimizes wastage by accounting for every milliliter of alcohol using sensors, wireless technologies, and RFID staff identification, right down to how effectively every barman pours a beer. The system can be expected to save 5 to 10 percent of total throughput – very big bikkies.  Read More

The world’s first whale anti-collision systems (WACS)
 Photo: Rolex (Copyright)

An unlucky passenger who died when a high-speed ferry rammed into a sperm whale in the Canary islands was the world’s first known victim of a new form of pollution – ocean noise. In places where marine traffic is heavy, vessels fast and whale numbers expanding, violent encounters are increasingly common. The cause of the accident, says marine biologist and Rolex Awards for Enterprise Laureate Michel André, most probably lay in damage to the whale’s sensitive hearing apparatus caused by the rising roar of man-made noise throughout the oceans. The whale was stone deaf – and simply didn’t hear the ferry coming in time to avoid it. Julian Cribb reports.  Read More

Photonics engineer Dave Irvine-Halliday
 (c) Rolex / Xavier Lecoultre

Tens of thousands of people living in disadvantaged areas around the world now have reliable household lighting thanks to Scots-Canadian photonics engineer Dave Irvine-Halliday. For ten years he has been supplying low-cost lighting in developing countries through his foundation, Light Up The World, an achievement that has earned him a Rolex Awards for Enterprise. It is a project with potential to make a huge difference to the world as a whole: each year the kerosene lamps that flare in the homes of the poor liberate 244 million tonnes of CO2. Dave’s solar lighting sets offer huge scope to reduce those emissions and save poor people money at the same time. Francesco Raeli reports.  Read More

Valtra RoboTrac autonomous tractor design

February 14, 2008 Designed to perform a range of pre-programmed agricultural tasks in vineyards, coffee farms, orchards and nurseries, this futuristic driver-less tractor concept aims to boost efficiency, minimize crop damage and remove humans for hazardous environments using GPS and Internet to track its location. The Valtra RoboTrac from 25 year old Estonian industrial designer Hannes Seeberg - whose portfolio also includes an intriguing Skylift self-propelled boarding aircraft boarding system - combines an 85 hp engine diesel engine and rear-wheel steering in either a two or four wheel drive configuration with the remotely programmable computerized navigation system to enable anything from tilling and plowing to planting and spraying.  Read More

The whale shark is the world's biggest living fish
 Photo Credit: Rolex Awards / Kurt Amsl...

This year the secret life of one of the Earth’s largest and most mysterious creatures, the whale shark, will be laid bare for the first time when some of the gentle giants off Western Australia’s coral Ningaloo coast are equipped with "black box flight recorders". The project is the result of a collaboration between two Laureates of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise – Australian Brad Norman who set up the world’s first photo-ID system for identifying whale sharks and Briton Rory Wilson, who has developed the world’s most sophisticated device for monitoring the activity of animals in the wild. With capabilities beyond those of GPS-based animal tracking systems, Wilson's logger monitors changes in an animal’s acceleration in every direction – forward/back, up/down or sideways - at a rate of up to 32 times a second, and, combined with a compass, determines the animal’s speed, direction and position. Julian Cribb and Graeme O'Neill report.  Read More

The Electric Super Tipper Truck

Most of us first encountered the concept of a tip truck in the sand pit as toddlers – and they’ve been pretty much all the same basic concept since then. The electric-powered Super Tipper Truck is not confined by traditional thinking as it does not require a traditional power train and with no problems about storing lots of heavy batteries for delivering massive electrical power to each in-wheel motor, the Haishan Deng-designed Super Tipper delivers more unloading and loading options, greater accuracy, greater worker safety and more efficiency to the construction industry. “I set out to find a ‘new way’ for this important equipment of construction,” said innovative designer Haishan. “The concept concentrates on enabling more possibilities for the loading and unloading process. Common trucks can only unload to backward or sidewards”.  Read More

Apple iPhone

November 6, 2007 Having crashed its way into the lexicon as well as the marketplace in spectacular fashion in June, Apple’s iPhone has been recognized as Time Magazine’s Invention of the Year for 2007.  Read More

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