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Posted by Ray  |  13 Nov 2014  |  Comments (9)

SmartHat-rear.jpg

This thing is making rounds and we'd normally be too embarrassed to post what by all means must be a hoax, but for the fact that this souped-up bike helmet is a compelling example of design fiction. As Bike Snob pointed out, Toby King's "Smart Hat" essentially turns a cyclist—specifically, a cyclist's head—into a car. It's a patently absurd concept that, as far as this bike nerd can tell, is intended to insinuate that cyclists and motorists are very different classes of road user indeed, and that urban planning and policy ought to reflect that simple fact.

SmartHat-2x.jpgSmartHat-HUD.jpgSmartHat-exploded.jpg

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   6 Nov 2014  |  Comments (1)

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In "Things We'd Like to See: Subway Stations with Better Lighting" we showed you Paris' gorgeous Arts et Metier metro stop and a conceptual design for a sunlit underground station. But since then little has been done in the real world to change subway lighting.

Little, but not nothing. This week a video emerged showing that the UK's Network Rail has installed blue LED lighting on parts of platforms at Gatwick Airport. They're following Japan's lead, as that nation began installing blue LED lighting on Tokyo platforms in 2009--to combat the nation's high suicide rate. (We Americans should recall that in countries without as many firearms as we have, jumping in front of a train is the method of choice for those looking to take their own lives.) It's thought that blue light "has a calming effect on agitated people, or people obsessed with one particular thing, which in this case is committing suicide," as a therapist at the Japan Institute of Color Psychology put it.

Beyond that, Network Rail is hoping the blue lights will influence everything from circadian rhythms to crime figures:


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   4 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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In Part 1, we looked at storage options for motorcyclists that don't have a garage to call their own. But even for bikers that do have garages, there are other issues, like how to fit the bike in the space when it's being shared with a car.

One design solution is to get the bike in there first, then get it up and out of the way before Florence Four-Wheels comes home. For that there's the nifty Moto-Lift from Germany:

From Italian company Bike Shuttle comes a similar solution, minus the lift:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   4 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

0mcyclestorage.jpg

Motorcyclists know the thrill of the open road... and those without garages know the hassle of securing motorcycle covers to their bikes in inclement weather. For garageless riders, a host of companies have designed a variety of solutions to keep bikes dry, ranging from flimsy to whimsy.

From Japan comes this armadillo-style Cycle Shell:

For those seeking a little more structure, from Poland comes this steel Moto-Box Roller with a sliding track that locks the front wheel into place (warning, turn your sound down):

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  30 Oct 2014  |  Comments (4)

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In 1990 Dennis Amodeo, a carpenter from Long Island, won a rather amazing VH1 giveaway: A collection of 36 Corvettes, one from each year from the model's birth in 1953 up to the then-recent 1989. Something like that is an American boy or man's dream come true, the crappy 1980s models notwithstanding.

But it's also an American man's dream to receive six-figure checks, so when pop artist Peter Max offered $250,000 for the collection that same year, Amodeo handed over all five pounds of car keys. Max had some kind of art project in mind for the cars, and got as far as taping up the sides of some of them for color tests. But that's as far as Max got, so the cars just sat. And sat. And sat. For decades.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  29 Oct 2014  |  Comments (2)

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Cities like New York and Washington D.C. were designed with nice, rational grids. Cities like Tokyo and Kyoto were reportedly designed to confuse invaders with twisting, irrational angles. And cities like Valparaiso, Chile and Taxco, Mexico were designed in reaction to Mother Nature, being built as they are atop a number of rugged hillsides.

The crazily-narrow, winding alleyways of Valparaiso and Taxco follow gravity and topography more than logic, and as it turns out, this makes for an extremely compelling downhill bike course. Organized downhill racing through urban environments has existed since the '90s, but this year a bunch of sponsors got together to organize the City Downhill World Tour 2014, spanning Valparaiso and Taxco as well as Santos, Brasil and Bratislava, Slovakia.

Last week's race was held in Taxco, and the on-bike footage from rider Filip Polc is unsurprisingly insane—this seems like the entire reason GoPro cameras were invented:

How is this not a video game yet?

Posted by Ray  |  29 Oct 2014  |  Comments (2)

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I can't for the life of me recall where or when, but I once heard that you turn a bicycle ("cornering," as we call it) not by steering with the handlebars but by 'pointing your belly button in the direction you want to go.' It comes naturally to anyone who has surmounted the learning curve, but it's easy to forget that we aren't born with the ability to ride a bike. Jersey City, NJ-based brothers Steve and Rich Thrush sum up the problem:

As you probably know, the experience of riding a traditional tricycle or a bicycle with training wheels is quite different than riding a bicycle. In fact, because you cannot lean into turns on a traditional tricycle nor a bicycle with training wheels, kids riding these toys often develop bad habits which they then have to unlearn when learning to ride a bicycle.

The recently Kickstarted Dreisch leaning tricycle addresses the counterintuitive physics of muscle memory by shifting the steering to the rear axle via a hinge and a pivoting swing-arm that runs the length of the frame. The result is a 'natural' turning mechanism.

As big-time bike nerds, we're glad to see a genuine innovation in bicycle design, albeit for a specific subset of riders. By sheer coincidence, a commenter suggested a use case for a certain much-discussed concept bike just this morning: "Age 2–5 kids glider bike I think. Gonna make one." We'd be curious to see the results if he or she does, as this would be a bicyclic evolution of a baby walker—for which trade names include Exersaucer and Jumperoo—though I'm not exactly sure if a harness has any advantages over a traditional balance bike or, say, Andreas Bhend's convertible take on a child's first bicycle.

Via Bike Rumor

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  29 Oct 2014  |  Comments (6)

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You probably remember Richard Branson's April Fool's joke about Virgin producing glass-bottomed planes. I figured this next bit of news might be a gag too, but apparently this proposal for a virtually invisible passenger airplane is sincere.

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Put forth by the UK's Centre for Process Innovation, a science/engineering/technology incubator, this "Windowless Fuselage" concept is intended to save fuel and reduce emissions. The CPI's thinking is that commercial airplanes have windows for the passengers' comfort, but that if the windows could be jettisoned from the design, airplanes could be made lighter and thus save on fuel. To offset the feeling of sitting inside a tin can, airplanes would then be lined with ultrathin, flexible plastic screens covering the interior surfaces and even the seatbacks.

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These screens, the concept goes, could serve as mere lighting, or the entertainment systems, or be linked to external cameras to provide the impression of flying al fresco. The screens could even "allow the colour changes associated with sunrise and sunset to be controlled on long haul journeys, helping passengers to adjust to time zone differences."

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  27 Oct 2014  |  Comments (5)

0mercedesalumvssteel.jpgLeft: Aluminum; Right: Steel.

When trying to "lightweight" something made out of steel, the designer's natural inclination is to turn to aluminum. But the R&D guys over at Mercedes-Benz recently did the opposite of that, and scooped up a Materialica Design and Technology Award for their trouble.

The MDT Awards are part of recently-held trade fair Materialica, which is dedicated to "Materials applications, surface technology and product engineering," and were intended to highlight lightweight design in transportation. To that end Mercedes took an aluminum piston design for a diesel passenger car and replaced it with a redesigned steel one.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  22 Oct 2014  |  Comments (2)

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With a lot of folks buying the Back to the Future 2 hoverboard prank earlier this year, it's no surprise that a purportedly real hoverboard just got funded on Kickstarter. (Or so we assume—at press time it was at $234,708 of a $250,000 goal, with 53 days left to pledge.) "We aim to get this technology into everyone's hands (and under everyone's feet)!" writes Hendo Hover, the California-based company behind the Hoverboard.

Yes, you can really stand on the thing and yes, it really floats, but there is a bit of a catch:

Our patented technology transmits electromagnetic energy more efficiently than previously possible, enabling platforms to hover over non-ferrous metals with payloads. It is scalable to any size and any weight.

The limitation of needing a non-ferromagnetic metal surface to float over aside, the technology still looks pretty cool.

Amazingly, only a handful of the actual backers will receive a working hoverboard; the ten units have all been snapped up at a buy-in of ten large. The sub-$10,000 tier of funding is for developer kits and short hoverboard rides at Hendo's facility.

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  13 Oct 2014  |  Comments (5)

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About this time last year, Siemens unveiled their vision for the future of the London Underground: an innovative, lightweight and energy-efficient 'mass transportation solution' with the exterior styling grace of a plastic worm, and all the interior character of a hospital waiting room. When Priestmangoode unveiled their design for the New Tube for London last week, we breathed a sigh of relief that they didn't let the engineers design it.

The New Tube design comes two and half years after the Heatherwick's New Routemaster hit the roads of the capital and follows recent news that the city's upcoming Crossrail project (the hugely ambitious underground rail line cutting directly through the centre of London) will have exterior, interior and livery designed by Barber Osgerby when it opens doors to commuters in 2017. All told, we're pleased to see that London is turning to top British designers to shape the city's public realm.

NewTubeforLondon_InteriorLong.JPG


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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  10 Oct 2014  |  Comments (7)

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Yesterday Tesla Motors held a press event where they announced their new all-wheel-drive models, which hit the road in December. These being electric cars, rather than using a single motor to drive all four wheels, Tesla is simply dropping a second motor into the car; with one up front and one in back, there's no need for a driveshaft in between and all of those pesky linkages.

And these cars will go from 0-60 in an absurd 3.2 seconds, in case you need to smoke a Bugatti. "This car is nuts," Tesla skipper Elon Musk told the audience. "It's like taking off from a carrier deck." (See video below for the full carrier deck/Battlestar Galactica-esque "launch sequence.")

Some optimists assumed that at last night's event, Musk was going to pull the sheets off of a completely self-driving car. While that's undoubtedly a ways off, the autopilot features announced last night for the new models indicate it's not as far off in the future as you might think. Using a combination of radar, a camera and a dozen sensors, this is what Tesla's new models can reportedly do:

- The new system will move the car over a lane when the driver uses the turn signal.
- The car reads speed-limit signs and adjusts the car to the speed on the sign.
- Drivers will be able to get out of the car in their driveways and watch it park itself in the garage. When drivers are ready to leave, the car will able to drive itself up, with the car's temperature and stereo system set to the driver's preferences.
"It will come to you wherever you are," Musk says. "It will slowly make its way to you."

I'm not sure why you'd choose to get out of your car in the driveway rather than in the garage—most architects are thoughtful enough to put a door between the garage and the house—but then again, perhaps Musk is targeting the super-rich owners who live in manses apart from the stables.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   3 Oct 2014  |  Comments (5)

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Years ago I was driving down Interstate 80 when a minivan rocketed past me in the left lane. I was doing about 70 in my Golf, the Dodge Caravan was doing maybe 95. Seconds later my rearview mirror filled with the flashing lights of a New Jersey State Trooper. As I pulled to the side to let him pass, I then realized he was pulling me over.

The cop explained that he had me going 87 on his radar gun, rolled his eyes at my suggestion that he tagged the wrong guy, and wrote me a big, fat ticket. It was obvious to me that the gun picked up the minivan, but as the cop came over the rise in pursuit, he saw my sporty little Golf and figured I was the culprit.

They used to say that if you bought a car in red, you were more likely to be pulled over. And if I was a cop tagging a group of cars and unsure of whom was the speeder, yeah, I'd probably pull over the car with the sportiest design. Backing this up, if a recent U.S. auto insurance study is to be believed, seven out of the top ten Cars That Get the Most Tickets (doesn't say for speeding, so it could be for any traffic infraction) have what we consider sporty designs. What's surprising is how un-sporty the other three are. Admittedly our parsing of this study involves a little guesswork, as only the models, not the specific production years, are mentioned. But here's the top ten, judge for yourself:

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10. Mazda2

Some 28.1% of drivers that own this tiny econobox with a rather dramatic side swoop get ticketed.

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9. Toyota FJ Cruiser

A bit too bulky to be considered sporty, we think, though you can't deny it has an aggressive profile. At any rate it's good enough to get 28.4% of its drivers pulled over.

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8. Scion tC

This diminutive but fat-fendered coupe, particularly in this color, looks like trouble. It also has 28.8% of its owners reaching for their license and registration.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  30 Sep 2014  |  Comments (4)

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This is a fascinating idea that was developed by a research group at Japan's Keio University. By applying optical camouflage technology and using recursive reflectors, which "[reflect] light back in the direction of incidence," the researchers were essentially able to render the back of a Toyota Prius invisible, at least from the driver's point of view. Take a look:

What we found fascinating is their proposal that this could be applied to all 360 degrees. And aside from average motorists trying to back passenger cars into parking spaces, imagine what a boon this would be to folks driving delivery trucks, tractor-trailers, construction machinery and other bulky, blind-spot-laden vehicles.

Unfortunately, the technology may never come to pass. The concept was put forth in 2011, and there's been no word on an update since the video above was released in 2012. But tell me this thing wouldn't get Kickstarted in a heartbeat.

Via DigInfo TV

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  29 Sep 2014  |  Comments (4)

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Last week Argentinian director Fernando Livschitz released this video titled "Rush Hour," shot using some clever film trickery:

What's interesting is that if all cars were autonomous, that scene could one day actually be possible. Maybe the motorcycles are a stretch, and the humans and cyclists travling at such perfectly measured paces that the cars could accurately predict their timing; but at a minimum self-driving cars could certainly be programmed not to hit each other, and to thread the needle at intersections.

The hardest part would probably not be the technology, but garnering human acceptance. As safe as I knew it was, I'd have a hard time not having a heart attack while riding in any of these vehicles.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  26 Sep 2014  |  Comments (8)

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Everyone loves to bash corporations, but few talk about how much good they can do in this world. Their immense fortunes and longevity means they can undertake radical, expensive experiments that smaller outfits simply couldn't sustain.

A good case in point is Walmart and their Advanced Vehicle Experience concept truck. Built earlier this year as a testbed for their fleet efficiency program, it features a 53-foot trailer whose roof and sidewalls are made from single-piece 53-foot-long panels of carbon fiber. This confers a weight savings of some 4,000 pounds, meaning it can carry an extra 4,000 in cargo to burn the same amount of fuel, or carry the same weight of cargo as before and save a tremendous amount of fuel.

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Creating carbon fiber panels of that length is fiendishly expensive, and a company would have to ship a lot of cargo indeed before they'd make their money back on fuel costs. In other words, you'd need a Walmart to do something like this. With 6,000 trucks crawling our continent and logging millions of miles, the overall, long-term impact would be substantial.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  26 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)

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With the goal of "revolutionizing the watersport industry," Swedish company Radinn has released their first product: an electric powered wakeboard. The carbon fiber craft carries onboard lithium batteries and is controlled via a wireless handheld remote, allowing the rider to cruise at up to 30 miles per hour.

The coolest thing about having a self-propelled board is that it frees the rider from the beach. With an EPW one could navigate rivers, lakes, public fountains in Stockholm...

Want.

The 64-pound board's batteries can provide 30 minutes of runtime. Currently in its final testing stages, it's expected to go on sale next year. And no, it won't be cheap, but if you've got twenty grand to throw around, you could do a lot worse.

Posted by Sam Dunne  |  22 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)

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UK design blog Dezeen have collaborated with car manufacturer MINI at London Design Festival this year to create an exhibition of commissions exploring the future of transportation. Far from a showroom for shiny self-driving cars or connected-car dashboard concepts, was eclectic collection of exploratory interpretations by artists, designers and architects was on display in the ground floor entrance of design and furniture fair designjunction. The exhibition space itself embodied the theme—architect Pernilla Ohrstedt teaming up with 3D-scanning specialist ScanLAB to create her contribution 'Glitch Space'—an enormous arrangement of vinyl white dots meticulously laid out across the exhibit floor as a representation of the swaths of environmental data that will flow through the city in a future of driverless cars.

LDF14_Designjunction_mini_dots.jpg

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On the same theme, Dominic Wilcox, ever the inspiring out-of-the-box thinker, turned a lot of heads with the revealing of his incredible 'Stained Glass Driverless Sleeper Car.' Not just a pretty piece of craft, Wilcox's creation is actually a profound reflection on the future design possibilities for the automobile. In a future in which cars are self-driving and super safe, the forms, materials and uses that have constrained automotive design in our time may no longer apply. Although Wilcox's fictional future car manufacturer's website shows a spectacular array of possibilities this could present, the stunning stained-glass model on view demonstrated the equally appealing option of rolling around town in a half-car, half-bed 'hybrid,' revealed when lifting up the hood (below).

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LDF14_Designjunction_DomWilx_hood.jpg

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  19 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)

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While food trucks are all over NYC, and the cocktail trend continues to spread across the city, we've never seen anyone combine the two and create a Booze Truck. But a select amount of tipplers in the UK just may spot one. It isn't any regular booze truck, and as far as we can tell they ain't charging for the drinks. Which should remain affordable for the proprietors as it can only seat two folks at a time.

0typehboozetruck-002.jpg

With Grey Goose for a client, London-based branding agency Ragged Edge created The World's Most Intimate Martini Bar, as they've nicknamed it, by restoring an old Citröen Type H. In addition to the exterior restoration, they've kitted it out with an interior of leather, marble, bronze, brushed metal, and etched glass to create a "fully functioning luxury bar."

0typehboozetruck-003.jpg

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If you're wondering why there are photos of bread on the side for a company hawking vodka, the project is officially called the Boulangerie Francois Camionnette ("French bakery van") as a nod to another branding event RE held last year: In London's Soho they launched a pop-up artisanal bakery, where guests could "sample fresh Grey Goose bread, made using the finest soft winter wheat from the Picardie region in France." (That's the same type of grain Grey Goose is made from.)

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  19 Sep 2014  |  Comments (4)

0citroentypeh-001.jpg

As the Nazis occupied France and commandeered production at the Citröen factory, Citröen's design team was still secretly working on their own projects. One of those was the iconic 2CV economy car. Another was an equally quirky-looking but very different sort of vehicle called the Type H. And interestingly enough, one of its key design elements was inspired by the aircraft used by the Germans occupying France.

Like the 2CV, the Type H was meant to do more with less. But whereas the 2CV was meant to haul people and their farm goods, The Type H would be its urban counterpart, a proper delivery van. It would be a direct successor to their TUB and TUC delivery vehicles, whose production had been killed for want of raw materials during the war. Here's what that pre-war TUB looked like, by the way:

0citroentypeh-002.jpg

As you can see, a van requires a lot more surface area than the 2CV. This raised the problem of how to stiffen the van's structure while using materials as economically as possible. The answer was flying above Citröen's heads and landing at airfields in occupied France:

0citroentypeh-003.jpg

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  18 Sep 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Part 1: Ignoring War and Sabotaging Nazis on Their Way to Producing Funky, Iconic Cars

Do you think it was harder, or easier to design cars when your main competition was horses and carriages? Whichever you believe, imagine you're a car designer or engineer and this is the brief you receive:

We need you to design something that's going to remain in production for over four decades.

- It has to be cheap.
- It has to be easy-to-maintain.
- It has to be easy to manufacture.
- It has to get good mileage, let's say 78 miles per gallon.

Maybe you'd stall by asking who the target buyer is and what the car's performance needs are. So they come back to you with

It needs to be able to carry four farmers and over 100 pounds of their goods and harvested crops to market over unpaved roads. And they might be carrying eggs. Yeah, so make sure the car can drive across a ploughed field while it's loaded up with eggs, and that the eggs won't break. Also, sometimes they might need to carry big stuff like furniture, so make sure you design in a solution for that.

As impossible as all that sounds, that was what the development team at Citröen was facing in the mid-1930s, when France was still largely rural farmland. It didn't take long to figure out the car would have to be small to meet the first set of criteria, and the project was dubbed TPV for Toute Petite Voiture, or "very small car."

0citroen2cv1-002.jpg

It took 47 prototypes, but by 1939 the TPV was deemed ready. To achieve the light weight the car was made using a lot of aluminum (which back then was so cheap that over in America Singer had begun building their Featherweight sewing machines out of the stuff). The car's seats were even lighter--they were pieces of fabric slung from the roof by wires, like a hammock. The roof was canvas and could be rolled back like the top of a sardine can, from the front windshield almost all the way down the back to the rear bumper. It only had one headlight and one taillight. But it worked, and it satisfied the brief, so the company came up with a snazzier name—the 2CV, for Deux Chevaux-Vapeur or "two steam horses," and prepared to try a first production batch of 250 cars.

Then World War II broke out.

As the Nazis invaded France, Citröen probably realized that their factory would soon be building Wehrmacht trucks. So under the direction of company president Pierre-Jules Boulanger a/k/a PJB, they started hiding the 2CV plans and destroying all of the prototypes. A few prototypes needed to be saved, however, presumably because they contained some winning formula of engineering that would be difficult to recall, so those were buried underground or hidden in barns. And one prototype was modified to look like a pickup truck so it could hide in plain sight.

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Amazingly, in 1995, three of the original TPV prototypes, the ones that PJB had ordered hidden during World War II, were found in a French barn.

0citroen2cv1-004.jpg

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  17 Sep 2014  |  Comments (1)

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The key characteristic of a Military-Industrial Complex is that armaments manufacturers want wars to keep going, so that they can keep making profits. Thankfully for the human race, not all industrialists are willing to propagate this system. France's Andre Citröen, an engineer by training, was one such enlightened individual.

See, Citröen was responsible for mass-producing armaments for France during World War I. But he realized the war wouldn't last forever, and knew that the factory he was running was going to be shut down unless there was something else to mass produce afterwards. With six years of pre-war experience working for the early French automobile manufacturer Mors, Citröen decided he'd produce a car—and he started working on it as early as 1916, two years before the war even ended.

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That's why, when Allied victory came in late 1918, Citröen was ready to roll out a car just four months later. The lightweight, relatively affordable 18-horsepower Citröen Type A was a success, and by 1920 the Parisian factory was producing 100 per day.

0citroen1-003.jpg

They cranked out some 24,000 units before Citröen succeeded the Type A with the Type B2.

0citroen1-004.jpg

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  17 Sep 2014  |  Comments (7)

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As someone recently introduced to regular bicycling by Citi Bike, New York's bicycle share program, I love bike lanes. I just wish there were more of them; their relative Manhattan scarcity, and my unwillingness to brave the laneless streets with the battle-hardened bike pros, mean I must often choose circuitous routes in order to safely remain a wussy.

I assumed NYC won't add more bike lanes because of the added cost and the resultant auto traffic congestion (more room for bikes means less room for cars). So I was very surprised to read a NYC Department of Transportation study [PDF] released this month that found that adding bike lanes actually increased the flow of auto traffic.

How is this possible? In two words, clever design. But before we get into the details, for those of you not familiar with the style of NYC's newest bike lanes, let's have a look at the old system:

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As you can see, placing the bike lane there leaves the cyclist in danger of getting "doored" by someone getting out of a parked car without bothering to look first. And the painted buffer between the cyclist and moving traffic offers zero protection from a car that veers out of control. So in 2007 they started shuffling things around like this:

0nycbikelanes914-003.jpg

With this improved design, the cyclist now rides adjacent to the sidewalk. The painted five-foot buffer prevents the cyclist from getting doored by a parked car, which now resides in a parking lane that provides a solid physical barrier protecting a cyclist from colliding with a moving auto. And if you look at the dimensions listed, you'll see the buffer can now safely be reduced by two feet in width, while the bike lane got wider by the same amount.

So right off the bat this second design is smarter than the first, and the numbers bear that out: In 2001, the old-style lanes were in effect. In 2013, the new-style lanes were in existence. And there has been a "75% decrease in average risk of a serious injury to cyclists" in that time period.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  15 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Brooks Stevens was a Raymond-Loewy-level industrial designer, and in fact, formed the IDSA in conjunction with Loewy and a group of other ID'ers. And while his name never seemed to achieve the recognition of Loewy's, he had a career every bit as colorful and influential. Upon his death in 1995, The New York Times called him a "giant in industrial design" and revealed that back in the 1940s, he nailed a certain appliance's form factor that still exists today:

One of his early successes was with a prototype clothes dryer, which had been developed by Hamilton Industries in Two Rivers, Wis. At the time, the only way to dry clothes was to hang them on a line.
Hamilton's engineers had developed a metal box with an electrically powered rotating drum inside and equipment for gas heating. The device was featureless except for an on/off switch.
"You can't sell this thing," Mr. Stevens recalled telling the developers. "It's just a sheet metal box." Mr. Stevens suggested putting a glass panel in the front and loading it with the most brightly colored boxer shorts the manufacturer could find for demonstrations in department stores. That is what happened, and modern clothes dryers still follow the same basic layout.

As another example of design longevity, Stevens designed the 1949 Harley-Davidson Hydra Glide. Harley-Davidson's 2014 Heritage Softail Classic has essentially retained the same front fender and tank-mounted speedometer.

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A year earlier Stevens had designed a very different vehicle: These sweet Skytop Lounge passenger railcars produced by Pullman-Standard in 1948, and used to run the route from Chicago to the Twin Cities. The Skytop Lounges remained in service until 1970.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  11 Sep 2014  |  Comments (3)

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Next weekend Toyota will unveil a concept car not at an auto show, but at the World Maker Faire in New York City. The chosen venue is purposeful: To create their Urban Utility (U2) concept vehicle, Toyota's CALTY design arm conducted interviews with previous Maker Faire participants. The resultant design has yielded a car described as "a flexible, functional gadget that owners can customize according to individual, on-the-go needs."

While text descriptions of the concept are light, the renderings tell the tale. Makers apparently expressed a strong desire to haul a variety of goods, as a lot of attention has been given to how onboard storage is to be managed via a "Multipurpose Utility Bar" and "Retractable Latching System:"

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   9 Sep 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Teague and Nike recently teamed up to work on a rather interesting concept: the Athlete's Plane, an airplane interior designed specifically for professional athletes. For a moment, put aside both the unrelatability of a specialty vehicle designed for millionaire Adonises, and the memories of your own cramped air travel experiences, and check out how Teague and Nike addressed an unusual set of needs with technology and design.

First off, the unusual needs in question. The first reason these specific passengers are a bad match for conventional airplanes is because pro athletes these days are frickin' huge. Even a first-class seat is not going to be a good fit for a Tony Picard, and Tyson Chandler is not stretching out comfortably on your average lay-flat seat-bed.

Second, regardless of the sport, all pro franchises and college teams know the hell that is the away game. The hour-long bus rides familiar to high school athletes pale in comparison to what an airplane will do to your performance. As the Teague research cites, "Studies prove that home-field advantage is actually a lot less about the effects of raucous crowds and a lot more about the negative effects of travel, which create an "away disadvantage." [One study] confirmed that motor function measurably deteriorated in athletes after air travel and then lingered for roughly the same number of days as the number of time zones crossed. That's bad news if you're an athlete traveling from the West Coast to the East Coast on a Friday for a Sunday game."

With these issues in mind, Teague and Nike designers and training experts set about devising "four areas of performance innovation that are not addressed by commercial charters:"

Recovery: equalizing the negative effects of air travel on the mind and body, and bringing the training room to 40,000 feet through in-flight biometrics and analysis to accelerate injury diagnosis and treatment.
Circulation: fostering natural mobility and building in equipment that ensures optimal circulation and promotes healing.
Sleep: designing ideal sleeping conditions for individuals and sleep strategies for entire teams to maximize physical readiness.
Thinking: creating spaces for key mental activities, especially film study--enabling in-transit film review both before and after games.

Here's what they came up with, captions theirs:

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As soon as the athletes board they begin receiving information on their physiological state post-game.

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A meal plan corresponding to athletes' unique nutritional needs awaits them in the self-serve nutrition zone.

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