The Gadgets Page

May 29, 2008

The Chevy Aveo: Get Real

Filed under: Cars & Transportation — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I remember liking this breakdancing car commercial for the Citroen:

It seems that Chevy noticed it and realized how irritating something like that could actually be:

They finish the commercial with the phrase:

Chevy Aveo: Get Real

The Chevy Aveo is actually a VERY reasonable car. It’s priced just over $10K and it gets 32-34 mpg. All that without being a hybrid. It’s pretty small, but if you’re commuting to work, it’s better than a Smart Car as far as comfort and cargo space are concerned.

Another added plus. The Chevy Aveo NEVER transforms into a breakdancing queen.

Via: AdFreak: Chevy pokes fun at the Citroën dancing car

April 21, 2008

Sail Wagon

Filed under: Cars & Transportation,Retro Gadgets — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Photos of this sail wagon were posted on the Library of Congress’ Flickr feed a couple of weeks ago.

Sail Wagon, Brooklyn (Library of Congress) by Bain News Service, publisher from Flickr

Sail Wagon, Brooklyn (Library of Congress) by Bain News Service, publisher from Flickr

This entry from the Kansas State Historical Society has some information about them:

A novel device of the Kansas territorial period was the wind wagon, sometimes called a sailing wagon. Several were built and in 1860 the press gave them considerable attention. They were similar to an ordinary light wagon; weighed about 350 pounds; had a bed about three feet wide, eight feet long, and six inches deep; and were propelled by a sail or sails raised over the center of the front axle. When the breezes blew in the right direction the wagons were reported to skim over the prairies at about 15 miles per hour, with speeds at up to 40 miles per hour.

At least one wagon was reported to have traveled from Kansas City to Denver in a little more than 20 days. Upon the arrival of a wind wagon from Westport, Missouri, a Council Grove newspaper asked of its readers: “Who says now that the Santa Fe Trail is not a navigable stream.” The few wind wagons that were built undoubtedly traveled further in the press than they did on the prairie and horses and oxen remained the basic mode of power for a good many years.

My first thought was that they would be useless because narrow roads wouldn’t allow a wind wagon to tack like a sail boat can on the open water. I forgot that our plains were an open swath of land back then.

They were also using sail wagons in California. Here is a first hand description from 1902:

Riding on the Desert Queen was thrilling, according to Von Blon. “You go dodging, at the start, between dots of greasewood and cacti as the ‘ship’ leaves camp with the rising wind; here and there grotesque yucca trees stand like sentinels, with limbs, like long arms, outstretched to reach you; homed toads scurry away over the hot sands, and lizards dart,” Von Blon wrote. “These things you notice at first, but the wind increases and the pace grows madder. You tie a string to your hat and anchor it to your suspender; your handkerchief is whipping from your neck and goes sailing and writhing up and away out of sight almost before you realize that it is gone. This is indeed a different wind from any that ever blew in any other part of the world.”

Sail wagons were somewhat of a fad in the early twentieth century, but as a current transportation method, sadly, they would be hampered by our narrow roads. It makes me wonder what our landscape would look like now if the sail wagon had beat out the oxen wagon and eventually the car.

Sail Wagon, Brooklyn (Library of Congress) by Bain News Service, publisher from Flickr

Sail Wagon, Brooklyn (Library of Congress) by Bain News Service, publisher from Flickr

January 31, 2008

The Rinspeed Splash: Car Boat

Filed under: Cars & Transportation — Laura Moncur @ 10:40 am

Seeing this car in action just reminds me of all the cool cars that James Bond drives. He’ll be begging Q for the Rinspeed Splash.

It’s a two-seater car with no room for even a metal suitcase full of diamonds in the back. I guess you’ll just have to jettison the girl (she’ll probably stab you in the back anway).

Two seater Rinspeed Splash

With just a few changes, the Rinspeed Splash can take to the water.

Rinspeed Splash transforms into a boat.

Best of all, it’s powered by natural gas, so it’s a little more earth-friendly!

You can see it in action here:

Via: The high-speed sports car that turns into a boat at the touch of a button | the Daily Mail

January 18, 2008

Stackable City Cars Could Change The Idea of Ownership

Filed under: Cars & Transportation — Laura Moncur @ 3:31 pm

I’ve talked before about the idea of Car Sharing. You don’t actually own a car, you own a membership in a car sharing program, so you can pick up a car when you need one, but not have to deal with all the ownership problems of autos.

MIT has taken the idea one step further with these stackable City Cars.

City Car Concept Picture by Franco Vairani

MIT is working in conjunction with GM on these cars:

The City Car is a stackable electric two-passenger city vehicle. The one-way sharable user model is designed to be used in dense urban areas. Vehicle Stacks will be placed throughout the city to create an urban transportation network that takes advantage of existing infrastructure such as subway and bus lines. By placing stacks in urban spaces and key points of convergence, the vehicle allows the citizens the flexibility to combine mass transit effectively with individualized mobility. The stack receives incoming vehicles and electrically charges them. Similar to luggage carts at the airport, users simply take the first fully charged vehicle at the front of the stack. The City car is NOT a replacement for personal vehicles, taxis, buses, or trucks; it is a NEW vehicle type that promotes a socially responsible and more effective means of urban mobility.

You can see a video of how they might work here:

I LOVE new ideas for transportation and I’m sure Walt Disney would be just giddy with excitement if he was alive to see this video today.

Via: Popgadget Personal Technology for Women: CityCar paves the way for smart parking

December 12, 2007

The Aptera Typ-1 Car Is Ready To Order

Filed under: Cars & Transportation — Laura Moncur @ 2:07 pm

I wrote about the Aptera before here:

You can now see it in action:

The Aptera is out of research and development and is in the manufacturing stage now. For $500, you can reserve one now!

Via: The Aptera Typ-1 | GearCrave | Stuff you want to touch

November 27, 2007

Japan’s Melody Road

Filed under: Cars & Transportation — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

In northern Japan, they have carved specific grooves into the road to create a melody.

Here is a video of the effect here:

Melody roads? Really? That’s the best you can come up with that technology? Come on, even I can think of something better.

When I was a child, there were some birthday cards at the local odd lot store. The card came with a strip of plastic attached to it. If you ran your fingernail along the plastic strip, the grooves on it would sound out the words, “Happy Birthday!”

Why don’t we do that with the groove strips along the side of the road? Instead of “Happy Birthday,” they could say something useful like “Wake Up!”

Via: Here’s a video of a car driving on Japan’s

November 15, 2007

UPS Brown Goes Green with ZAP Trucks

Filed under: Cars & Transportation — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

UPS Brown Goes Green from Flickr

UPS has leased a fleet of 42 electric ZAP trucks to deliver small packages in Northern California. Instead of loading up their huge brown delivery trucks, and running them up and down every street in Petaluma, they are separating the smaller packages and using electric cars to do a lot of the zipping around town.

This appears to be a test program because the drivers are keeping close track of their electrical usage so that UPS can analyze the cost-savings and emissions reductions.

“This is the missing link for small package deliveries in congested areas,” said ZAP CEO Steve Schneider. “Packages go from the airplanes, to the tractor trailers, to the delivery vans, then to the drop-off nodes. From there the ZAP trucks make the final delivery to the consumer in a zero-emission vehicle that costs less to operate. It’s a perfect example of how green technology can help corporate America’s bottom line.”

I’m interested to see how it works out. Companies are quick to put out press releases saying that they are “Going Green,” but if the experiment doesn’t cut costs or reduce emissions, they aren’t so eager to announce when they “Go Back To Brown.”

You can see the entire Flickr set here:

UPS delivers load of packages in ZAP electric truck from Flickr

My biggest concern is boxes disappearing off the back of the truck. Since the back of the truck isn’t enclosed, they can’t lock them. How is the driver supposed to deliver a package and watch the rest of them at the same time? I’m sure they’ll work out the bugs, but I’m really eager to see a follow-up and I doubt UPS or ZAP will give me one unless it’s a raging success. Let’s all hope for a raging success, shall we?

November 14, 2007

Top Gear Reviews The Peel P50

Filed under: Cars & Transportation — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The BBC’s Top Gear did a review of the incredibly tiny Peel. It was a car made in the early sixties and gave “small car” a new meaning:

This is what I thought riding in a Smart Car would be like. Fortunately, the Smart Car is MUCH taller and easier to get into.

The Peel ran on a 49cc moped engine and got 100 mpg. THAT’S fuel efficiency!

Via: Cute Overload! – The cutest car EVAR

November 6, 2007

The Fly-Wheel May Power Our Next Green Car

Filed under: Cars & Transportation — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

GyrobusDamn Interesting has an excellent article talking about the fly-wheel and how it could be used to power the next green car that comes on the market.

The fly-wheel has the potential to store far more energy than standard batteries, but it is dangerous as well.

As interesting as the article was, the comments are even more fascinating and from the people who actually worked on this project:

With an ear-piercing squeal the highly spinning metal gave off its death cry. The device literally came apart sending shrapnel in a vector perpendicular to the common axis of the flywheel. The safety shield that encased the device did not live up to its design as the debris tore through it like so much tissue paper. Unfortunately there was a fellow standing in front of it when this happened. Like a scene out of some sick horror flick, he was instantly split from crotch to forehead. Considering the amount of damage, it was amazing that we suffered only the one death.

The project was canceled shortly after that.

…as interesting as this article is, I wish that I had not read the damn thing. It brought back bad memories. Memories that are just as vivid as if it just happened. I was standing next to him, and as he fell I tried to catch him…

Let’s take a moment and thank the researchers who have given their lives trying to design more energy efficient vehicles.

October 8, 2007

Finally, An Enclosed Scooter!

Filed under: Cars & Transportation,Misc. Gadgets — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Shoprider Flagship Enclosed Scooter, Blue at Amazon.comNo, this photo hasn’t been squashed. This is a one-person scooter that protects you from the rain and snow. With a top speed of only 10 miles an hour, however, the Shoprider Flagship falls into the Segway category of usefulness, but it’s a great start:

Sadly, it will cost you almost as much as a “real” scooter that can hit speeds of 40-50 mph. For $6595, it’s merely a toy, but it looks so cute I just want to get it! Red, please!

Via: Popgadget Personal Technology for Women: Shoprider Flagship: Tiny scooter car

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