If you’ve ever worn a knee brace, then you may have noticed what a large change in angle your knee goes through with every step you take, and how quickly it does so. A team of scientists from the U.K.’s Cranfield University, University of Liverpool and University of Salford certainly noticed, and decided that all that movement should be put to use. The result is a wearable piezoelectric device that converts knee movement into electricity, which could in turn be used to power gadgets such as heart rate monitors, pedometers and accelerometers.
Austrian research company IAT21 has presented a new type of aircraft at the Paris Air Show
which has the potential to become aviation's first disruptive technology since the jet engine. Neither fixed wing nor rotor craft, the D-Dalus uses four, mechanically-linked, contra-rotating, cylindrical turbines for its propulsion, and by altering the angle of the blades, it can launch vertically, hover perfectly still, move in any direction, and thrust upwards and hence "glue down" upon landing, which it can easily do on the deck of a ship, or even a moving vehicle. It's also almost silent, has the dynamic stability to enter buildings, handles rough weather with ease, flies very long distances very quickly and can lift very heavy loads. It's also so simple that it requires little maintenance and requires no more maintenance expertise than an auto mechanic. It accordingly holds immense promise as a platform for personal flight, for military usage, search and rescue, and much more.
An unmanned aerial vehicle named DEMON made history last month when it demonstrated “flapless flight” at an airfield in Cumbria, England. The demonstrator aircraft’s ailerons/elevators were locked off, allowing it to maneuver using nothing but a series of forced-air jets along the trailing edges of its wings. In the future, such technology could benefit military or commercial aircraft because of fewer moving parts, less maintenance and a stealthier profile.
Everyone knows that when certain bacteria are present in an environment, they can cause infections. These infections can take the form of diseases such as bubonic plague, cholera, leprosy, and tuberculosis. The problem isn’t simply that the bacteria are present
, however, it’s that they communicate
with one another - essentially coming up with a battle plan. This signaling process, called quorum sensing
, has now successfully been blocked by British scientists. They did it using plastics similar those used by dentists for repairing teeth.
Automotive engineering facilities in the UK have joined forces to design a system which allows conventional delivery vans to be cheaply converted to run in a zero-emissions, all-electric mode for urban use. The ADDZEV (affordable add-on zero emissions vehicle) system was developed using a standard Vauxhall Combo van, retaining the existing conventional front-wheel-drive (FWD) system and an adding an electric drive in parallel for the rear wheels. The vehicle can operate with just front wheel drive powered by the internal combustion engine or can turn off the petrol engine and run with rear wheel drive under electric power only.
January 11, 2009 Reynard
is a name familiar to all motorsports enthusiasts – founded by the brilliant automotive engineer Adrian Reynard
, it quickly grew to become the world's largest racing car manufacturer before some financial disasters led it to bankruptcy in 2002. No-one ever questioned Reynard’s abilities to produce remarkably competitive race cars though and now he’s back with a ballistic, road-registerable, two-seater named the Inverter. Powered by either a Honda Fireblade 1000cc motorcycle engine, or a Suzuki Hayabusa 1300cc motor, the Inverter weighs in at 400kg with all fluids and is so named because it has been designed to generate F1-levels of downforce – enough to deliver 4G cornering forces. Given a Hayabusa produces 250 bhp, the Inverter has a power-to-weight ratio in the stratosphere – equivalent to or better than cars that cost an order of magnitude more money. So that’s the equation – F1-levels of downforce, a stellar power-to-weight ratio , oh, and it has been designed to be manufactured VERY cheaply. The Inverter will be very special and very very affordable. Form a queue to the right please!
March 9, 2007 It’s showtime at Morgan
and the factory of the icon of traditional motoring is abuzz as the show cars are all pushed onto the tarmac (pictured), ready for transportation to Geneva for the season's biggest motor show. It’s exciting but we warrant not as exciting as this time next year when this very same alley will see the Morgan Lifecar
which has been promised for next year’s show. Many British specialist sports car makers have fallen by the wayside, but Morgan just keeps on going – and now it’s looking to the future with a plan to be one of the first car makers to commercialise a hydrogen fuel-cell car. The company is famous for its traditional production methods, but for next year’s Geneva show managing director Charles Morgan announced a plan to launch the Morgan Life Car - a hydrogen-fuelled, zero-emissions car – but built using Morgan’s wooden-framed body. The car is intended to demonstrate that a zero emission vehicle can also be fun to drive. Artist’s impressions of the car show a vehicle shaped like the Aero 8, but with aerodynamic fairings covering the wheel arches. It will be a very lightweight car with a fuel cell hybrid powertrain, which will give it a 200-mile range. We first wrote about the LifeCar back in 2005
. It’s being developed in partnership with hi-tech specialists including Cranfield University
, Oxford University
, Linde AG
and the Open Source Car Project (OSCar)
December 14, 2006 Students from Cranfield University, one of Western Europe’s largest academic centres for strategic and applied research development and design, have been awarded the innovation prize at The Société des Ingénieurs de l'Automobile’s (SIA), Styling and Technical competition for designing ‘The Most Affordable Dream Car’. The Dscar has four wheels positioned in a diamond shape around the car’s chassis and apparently it handles like a go-kart. Designed primarily for extreme sports lovers and for weekend or track day use only, the car provides a very different ride – it’s very light, just 500kg, and powered by a Toyota 3 cylinder 68bhp engine. The DScar is made from mass produced car parts, so can be manufactured very easily and economically. A panel of international experts recognised DScar for its radically different diamond shaped design, unique style and unusual driving experience.
September 23, 2005 A wholly British partnership yesterday unveiled plans to develop the world’s first environmentally clean sports car, powered by a fuel cell which converts hydrogen into electricity. The partnership is made up of legendary British sports car manufacturer, the Morgan Motor Company, QinetiQ, Cranfield and Oxford Universities, BOC and OSCar. The new vehicle, known as LIFECar, will be ultra quiet and its exhaust systems will produce only water vapour. It promises a clean vehicle combined with sound motoring performance and stylish good looks.
July 18, 2005 The concept of a diesel motorcycle is not one that has occurred to a lot of people – at least not many have thought about it for long because despite a rich century of innovation in motorcycling, only a handful of diesel motorcycles have existed and until very recently, they have all been utility vehicles – bikes designed to get great economy on fuel of questionable quality in rugged and remote regions and said diesel two-wheelers had no performance pretensions. As we all know, diesel technology has come a long way in recent times and now the sans-sparkplug engine promises a renaissance thanks to its low emissions, good power output and low consumption ... and like so many aspects of technology, it was the muscle of the military dollar that brought the world's first modern production diesel motorcycle into being.