By Jordan Kooi of Lynden High School, Lynden, Washington, as told to Flora LichtmanPosted 01.24.2012 at 11:06 am 2 Comments
Our inspiration came from a classmate who has spina bifida—a split spine—and can't ride a regular bike. Our trike has extra back support and a steering system to make turning easier. On a normal bike, leaning in the direction you want to go helps you turn. It's hard to do that on a trike because it's rigid, but ours has hydraulic pistons that tilt the tires when you lean, allowing you to make tighter corners. You can go just as fast as you could on a regular bike, and we're going to add an electric motor, so it is going to be really fun to ride. We're building a prototype in our shop at school.
I have never understood why people who aren't circus clowns ride unicycles. They seem designed specifically to create wipeouts and, subsequently, schadenfreude (a lesson our writer learned all too well in 1967 when he undertook the massive challenge of learning to ride one). But who knew that tucked away in the pages of PopScis past were some of the weirdest, most delightfully retro-futuristic unicycles of all time? Now we all do. And I don't think it's a stretch to say our lives are all the better for it.
At this year's International Robot Exhibition, Masahiko Yamaguchi demonstrated a smallish robot--maybe a foot high or so--that is able to ride a fixed-gear bike, like a 2011 version of the opening scene from The Muppet Movie (and there's a Muppet movie coming out this year, too! Sorry sorry. Back to robots.) What's especially impressive is that the robot is capable of biking just like a human--it moves and brakes solely through the strength of its own adorable little body.
As the world goes increasingly wireless, we've learned to tolerate a certain degree of failure in our wireless systems--like when your computer just won't sync up with the wireless internet at the cafe, or when our phones drop a call. But what about situations when wireless systems simply cannot fail? A failure rate of zero is tough to achieve in any system, but computer scientists at Saarland University in Germany have demonstrated a wireless bicycle brake that works 99.999999999997 percent of the time.
Shock waves travel in straight lines, so when most bikes hit potholes, the shocks run through the frame and into the rider. One way to avoid the discomfort that can cause is to channel those vibrations onto another path, as the Tortola RoundTail road frame does.
In most cities, bike commuters lucky enough to have their own lanes still cannot trigger traffic signals, forcing them either to wait for a car to pull up, or cross the street to push the crosswalk button. A microwave motion sensor can help by determining when bikes are present.
Bikes are beautiful, elegant machines, which explains why they're often the target of theft. You have to protect your bike, but doing so usually means hauling around a lock that's basically an intimidatingly giant piece of steel in various shapes. The TiGr, currently a prototype on Kickstarter, is just as sleek and pretty as a well-made bike--and hopefully does its job as well.
Why does an unmanned bicycle stay upright (for a while) when you give it a shove? Researchers from the United States and the Netherlands designed a riderless bicycle that shows that the various mechanisms scientists have long believed to be responsible for keeping bikes upright are actually not necessary.
Bike-sharing programs across the U.S. are getting an upgrade.
By Jackson LynchPosted 10.13.2010 at 12:37 pm 0 Comments
Urban bike-sharing in U.S. cities. Already booming in Europe, these membership-based services start around $5 a month, saving commuters at least $5,000 a year on average over owning a car.
Smartphone apps allow riders to find bikes quickly, and inexpensive radio-frequency-identification or GPS chips help bike companies track the riders remotely. The chips are linked to riders’ credit-card information, so they won’t be tempted to steal the bike.
It’s a 21st-century conundrum: You want a power-assisted bike that’s electrically powered and that packs an energy density (and a light weight) that lithium-ion batteries simply can’t provide. But the idea of strapping a tank of compressed hydrogen between your legs makes you somewhat uncomfortable as well. SiGNa Chemistry has a solution: a metallic metal powder of sodium silicide that generates hydrogen as soon as it comes in contact with water.