The perfect do-it-yourself gift for budding designers and architects during the holiday season has to be Lego. The small blocks of plastic with millions of design outcomes have entertained many a child since the early 1950s. Now an ambitious duo has snapped together 500,000 pieces of the stuff to create the world’s first air-powered Lego roadster.
Cars that run on compressed air sound like a fantastic idea on paper, but bringing this technology to the masses has proven, well, a difficult road to travel. There's some positive news on the air-car front though - auto giant Tata Motors, which holds the license to develop Motor Development International's (MDI) air engine technology in India, has announced that it has completed the proof of the technical concept and demonstration phase of its air-car program and is now moving toward a market ready product.
Although battery-powered cars may no longer be considered quirky and weird, automobiles propelled by compressed air are still perhaps thoughts of as a little ... fringy. The MDI Air Car
looked promising, although development of the vehicle seems to have been at least temporarily suspended. Toyota Industries Corporation, however, recently brought some attention to the technology. On September 9th, its one-off KU:RIN set a new speed record for compressed air cars, at 129.2 km/h (80.3 mph).
If you've ever watched your Parrot AR Drone
power through the air and wondered what it would be like to be inside such a craft, the announcement of the Air Car project could be the answer you are looking for. The folks behind the development of the SoloTrek/Springtail Exoskeleton Flying Vehicle
have revealed plans to create the world's first fuel-electric hybrid flying car.
We've been taking a closer look at some of the standout blue-sky concepts presented by the likes of Mercedes
at the recent LA Design Challenge
– here's Volvo's take on the lightweight car of the future. The clamshell-inspired Volvo Air Motion Concept Canyon Carver uses fewer and lighter components than in traditional cars and compressed air engines
to achieve a weight estimated at under 1000 lbs (454 kg).
The European version of the world’s cheapest car
, the Nano was introduced at the Geneva Auto Show this week. The Nano Europa is an upgraded version of the $2,500 "People's Car" soon to go into production in India. The Europa model sticks to the same narrow, upright, four-door format, but has a longer wheelbase, more safety features and is better finished than the Indian-market version so will be considerably more expensive than the Indian model due to go on sale in April 2009.
Compressed air cars
are well and truly on their way to mass production in India and America
, among other places - although they seem to be taking their time. But the cheap, environmentally-neutral compressed air engine also lends itself to other interesting urban and industrial transport concepts like the AIRPod. Intended both as a personal 3-4 seater city commuter and as a getabout for airport, train station and municipal workers, the AIRPod is cute and easy to drive with a joystick instead of a steering wheel and pedals. The three-wheel transport weighs around the same as a touring motorcycle at 220kg, so it only needs 5 1/2 horsepower from its lightweight air engine to reach top speeds a little over 40mph. Best of all, cheap compressed air refilling will take as little as 90 seconds and cost about EU1.10 for the AIRPod's expected 220km range.
July 20, 2008 As the rate of technological advances continues at an astonishing pace there’s probably one question that gets asked more than any other by the average person in the street – or the average person stuck in traffic anyway - why don’t we have flying cars
yet? Well the simple answer is that developing a flying car is hard. But the long wait for the solution to car clogged streets could be coming to an end with Moller International announcing that it is in the process of completing its fourth M200 “Jetson” volantor airframe and it expects to complete forty of these fly-by-wire, multi-engine flying vehicles in 2009.
The Zero-Pollution MDI Air Car
, invented in France and licensed by Tata Motors in India
, is coming to American shores. Zero Pollution Motors have announced they will begin taking reservations for the first U.S. deliveries in the next couple of months, but it will be 2010 before Americans get their first taste of the ingenious compressed-air motor, which runs to 35mph entirely on air, or uses a trickle of petrol to heat and compress more air to reach higher speeds up to 90mph. It'll cost next to nothing to run (how do 30,000km service intervals sound?), have a range of up to 1000 miles, and retail for well under US$20,000.