Posted by Sam Dunne
| 19 Jan 2015
Crossrail is the massively ambitious £15 Billion railway project in the south of England cutting new tunnels under London to connect towns in the east and west with the ever growing metropolis. For anyone with even the slightest interest in architecture and engineering, the progress of the project—begun in 2009 after years of negotiations—has been a jaw-dropping (and at times nail biting) spectacle to behold. With what must be the biggest PR success in UK infrastructure building ever, the British public have been kept well up to speed with events going on under Londoners' feet—all happening with remarkable punctuality—with plenty of pictures of cavernous completed tunnels and smiling workers in orange overalls. With the service set to start in 2017, we're also eagerly awaiting the upcoming design for the trains, both interior and exterior, by Barber Osgerby.
It wasn't really until I watched the BBC's four-part documentary showing the work going on behind (or perhaps, before) the glossy press pics, that I began to fully appreciate what a masterpiece of engineering and detailed planning this development represents. The first episode follows engineers undertaking one of the toughest challenges of the project codenamed 'threading the needle.' Unfathomably, the Crossrail tunnels intersect with the busy Tottenham Court Road station by worming through a mess of cables, pipes and sewers to pass only 85cm above the crowded and fully functioning Northern Line platforms and 35cm below the station's escalators. Needless to say, the engineers were successful in their mission—threading the needle without crushing unwitting commuters or pulling down the Centrepoint building.
While the presentation is somewhat underwhelming, the concepts are interesting: Jaguar is reportedly working on a "360 Virtual Urban Windscreen," which aims to increase driver visibility and awareness through technical trickery and screen overlays, as demonstrated in this video.
The red-flagging of humans in the windscreen seems entirely doable with modern-day sensors and a heads-up display. I think what would make it more compelling is if it could show living beings below the beltline, like toddlers and pets.
The idea of transparent B-pillars is similar to the "invisible Prius" concept we saw last year, though the Keio University researchers working on the Prius actually demonstrated workable technology, whereas Jaguar is merely showing us a rendered-over video. Assuming Jaguar actually has the technical acumen to get this to work, I'd actually prefer to see it applied to C-pillars, as the current auto design trend of making them fatter (at least in my experience) seems to create the most troublesome blind spots.
The "follow-me" business with the ghost car seemed somewhat silly to me, but then it might prove useful for delivery drivers—and the increasingly awful taxi drivers that New York City is currently hiring. Though I suppose we won't be getting Jag taxis anytime soon.
As makers know, humans tend to be more engaged with objects they had a hand in building. DIY'ers are proud of their coffee tables, furniture designers get a special enjoyment out of sitting in a chair that they produced from raw lumber.
Automakers know this, but they're generally not able to engage their consumers beyond a "design your own pizza" approach, where buyers choose from a bunch of predetermined options, usually through a web portal. So Chevy has upped the ante with their Engine Build Experience program. For five large, new Corvette Z06 buyers can fly themselves out to the Corvette factory in Kentucky and actually bolt the freaking engine together (under the watchful eye of an engine assembly technician, of course).
The program was started back in 2010, when the Z06 factory was still in Michigan, and temporarily halted while Chevy's Performance Build Center was relocated to Kentucky. Now that the new factory's on-line, the engine-building option is being re-launched for March, with a price drop. (In Michigan the DIY option was $5,800.) And for those of you thinking participants just tighten a few bolts, this video GM's posted of the first EBE program actually looks pretty involved:
Skijoring is Norwegian for "ski driving," and it refers to a sport where a rider on skis is pulled by a horse, a team of dogs, or even a motor vehicle. I think it's similar to waterskiing in that it's extremely fun to do yourself, but not so much fun to watch; you can see scads of skijoring videos on YouTube to judge for yourself.
However, one clip we came across is pretty fascinating. This is 1955 Bavaria where a team of maniacs is engaging in motor skijoring, being towed by a bunch of Porsche racecars, an errant VW and (we presume) BMW motorcycles. If Petrolicious is to be believed, these nut-jobs are traveling in excess of 100 miles per hour:
Posted by Kat Bauman
| 12 Jan 2015
The North American International Auto Show aka the Detroit auto show is an unparalleled industry focused event in the car world. It is less well known for debuting new and conceptual bicycles. This year however the show will feature a few notable drivables that steer completely clear of internal combustion. Cameron Van Dyke's FuturePeople is a project that imagines human-powered vehicles for an era when cars have become obsolete but their infrastructure remains. Despite being an efficient and accessible mode of transportation, bikes have a long way to come to commonly replace cars for leisurely driving, large cargo and rider protection. These fully built concept bike-cars draw on new and old ideas about bikes and cars to address those concerns.
The Cyclone is reminiscent of boxy luxury vehicles from the 1920s. Four-wheeled, with a long frame and a wide, leather seated two-person cockpit, it's the most car-like bike on offer. Put on your driving gloves and take an elegant country ride:
It is fascinating how utterly videogame-like this is.
As the recent AirAsia disaster proved once again, thunderstorms and airplanes oughtn't mix. So what happens when several dozen or hundred are coming in for a landing and the airport gets hit by a storm? Air traffic controllers and pilots have their hands full, that's what. Check out this radar video of FedEx cargo planes coming into an unknown airport:
Not busy enough for you? Here are passenger aircraft coming into a storm-stricken Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the world's busiest for passenger traffic:
I'll never complain about having to circle for a parking space again.
Industrial designer Bruce Thomson is a man "[obsessed] with the visual archiving of automobilia through sketching, illustration and painting." He's also on an epic quest to buy a sweet vintage car—make and model TBD—and has created the Kicking Vintage Tyres blog to combine these two things.
In a word, the site is awesome. As Thomson chases down one lead after another, showing up at car dealerships and people's driveways, he sketches the car in question.
You've undoubtedly heard that cheetahs can do 75 miles per hour. But maybe you don't realize how quickly they can get there: A cheetah can accelerate from 0 to 60 m.p.h. in an absurd three seconds flat, making it faster than a Ferrari Enzo, a McLaren F1 and a Lamborghini Gallardo. What's even more amazing is that, according to the Smithsonian Channel , they can get up to 60 m.p.h. in just three strides.
So how is a 125-pound collection of fur and bones able to reach these speeds? In a word, design.
Everything from the cheetah's shoulder blades, rib cage shape, tail, and even the consistency of its footpads are all seemingly designed with one goal in mind: Blistering speed. This video explains how the cheetah's various "design features" all work together to produce their results:
Paul Bracq was the design director for both Mercedes-Benz (1957-1967) and rival BMW (1970-1974.) During his time at Mercedes he designed multiple classics, with the 230/250/280 SL perhaps being his best-known.
But for me Bracq's socks-knocker was the E25 Turbo concept car he designed for BMW.
As it's the latter brand that commissioned the video below, you won't hear a peep about those SL's, but you will get to hear Bracq discuss the E25, the 5-Series and others. It's also awesome to see he's still sketching into his 80s, and I like a designer who proudly states that he spent more time in the shop than the studio.
Join the conversation about Bracq and vintage cars in the Core77 discussion forums. H/T mo-i
That snazzy F-Type isn't the only bicycle racing support car that Jaguar provides for Britain's Team Sky, and you've probably noted that it only carries two bikes and two spares. For the heavy lifting they've got a pimped-out station wagon (as we Americans call it; to the Brits, a "shooting brake") in their XF Sportbrake, which can carry tons of gear and up to nine bikes.
While it's loaded up with the same communications gear as the F-Type, the XF has additional duties in serving as a "mobile race HQ for the team, a food and drinks station, wardrobe, rolling hospital and mechanic's workshop," according to Bike World News.
Here's a time lapse of crew members loading the XF up to hit the road:
Hit the jump to see the breakdown of all of the stuff they manage to fit inside.
Christmas doesn't come in July, and Sir Dave Brailsford is the Principal of Team Sky, a British cycle-based venture that does their racing on two wheels. So why was Jaguar handing him a set of new car keys earlier this year?
Well, it wasn't any old Jag. Since 2010 Jaguar has been sponsoring Team Sky with support vehicles, and for the time-trial stages of 2014's Tour de France, they'd cooked up a bike-hauling F-Type R. In addition to being loaded up with extra on-board batteries to power the communications gear inside...
...this nifty rack up top, and a specially-designed insert that replaces the car's rear window, enables it to haul a couple of bikes and spare tires.
Here's a video of the team putting it together:
As you read this, the skies are filled with travelers on their way to see loved ones. Those of you on the ground are likely thankful you're not dealing with the holiday crush, as riding inside of an airplane filled with people is no fun.
However, watching an airplane being built by people is a lot of fun. Check out this footage of a Boeing 737 coming together, time-lapsed and compressed:
Now maybe assembling that piece of Ikea furniture under the tree tomorrow won't look so daunting.
Posted by Kat Bauman
| 23 Dec 2014
Core77 2014 Year in Review: Top 15 Posts · Year in Photos · Drones · Transportation Design · Food & Drink · Wearable Technology · Power Tools and Hand Tools · Tool Storage · Organizational Solutions · Material News · Design Thinking · Architecture and Design GIFs
Like most years, 2014 brought both rad and bad new offerings in the transportation world. Hoverboards saw weirdly practical strides forward, self-driving cars are no longer just in comic books and secret Google labs, steam punkish bikes clung on, and Harley Davidson went... electric? We had our favorites among the mess of concept projects and bike porn, and to pilot us into a new year here are some key highlights and oh-no-lights from our 2014 transportation coverage.
Philippe Starck's work with Giro Helmets explored some unusual territory, attempted to update a fairly staid part of the biking experience, and reminded us of the dual values of exploring challenging new forms... and thoroughly researching your concept project materials.
It's time again for Hankook Tire's biennial design school team-up, where they task ID students with developing futuristic tire concepts. Last time 'round they paired up with Cincinnati's DAAP, and this year they're at Germany's University of Design, Engineering and Business in Pforzheim. And once again, not only did the students did not disappoint, but pulled off some real socks-knockers!
The central trend is to stop looking at the tire as a rubber cladding for a wheel, and to think of it instead as something that works together with an actively transforming wheel to create some ker-azy functionality. Now maybe I'm biased because I know ID students were involved, but the following video showing the three winning concepts in action is more exciting than any action movie trailer you'll see:
The U.S. Army announced that starting today, a batch of decommissioned Humvees are going to be auctioned off to the general public for the very first time. Here's the listing for the first 26 units, all currently parked in Utah and all with starting prices of $10,000. "This item is offered for Off-Road Use Only," the listing states, meaning it will not be possible to apply for license plates for the vehicles. "No further demilitarization is required. The HMMWV is available for pick up as shown."
In a weird twist on this, a plumber in Galveston County, Texas, named Mark O. was puzzled when his phone started ringing off of the hook—and people began making "really ugly" threats. He was stunned to find that his company's old Ford F-250, which he'd traded in at a Houston dealership last year, had been converted to a mobile anti-aircraft platform by an Islamist extremist group and was being used to wage jihad in Syria. His company's decal—and the company's phone number—was still on the side of the truck, plainly visible in a photo the terrorist group Tweeted of their exploits.
Despite Mark the Plumber having zero connection to terrorism—the dealership claims they sold his truck at auction, and no one has any idea how it came to arrive in Syria—the threats have been pouring in. "We have a secretary here, she's scared to death. We all have families. We don't want no problems," Mark told a local news organization. And Galveston County's The Daily News spells his thoughts out: "I just want it to go away, to tell you the truth."
Moral of the story: If you're trading in a vehicle that can support an anti-aircraft gun, take your company's logo off of it first.
Years ago William J. Beaty released a paper called "Ultra-Simple Hovercraft: A DIY Science Fair Project." In it Beaty, a research engineer at the University of Washington, laid out the plans for building a three- or four-foot wide hovercraft made out of a plywood disc and a battery-powered leaf blower.
That was in 1997, so there wasn't exactly any YouTube video of Beaty's concept in action. But earlier this year, the EdVenture Children's Museum in South Carolina took the idea and ran with it. Here's what they came up with:
It works! And EdVenture, it turns out, wasn't the first to realize Beaty's concept. In 2011 Torben Ruddock from Engineering.com built this model, with decidedly better seating:
As we've discussed before, dashboard cams have become a crucial safety feature for Russian motorists. But they've also become something else: A series of distributing hit-making machines that capture millions of eyeballs on video-sharing sites. Thus this stunning footage, captured on a German highway, racked up nine millions views this weekend when the original was posted to Facebook:
Cynical internet denizens were quick to question the clip's authenticity: The gents outside the wreck, they explained, are wearing standard-issue Stormtrooper uniforms, rather than Empire-approved official TIE fighter pilot get-ups.
Posted by Kat Bauman
| 5 Dec 2014
Aw yeah, Orion! We thankfully got good news about the second attempt to launch NASA's Orion spacecraft. Originally scheduled for Too Damn Early AM PST Thursday, the delayed launch today (at Still Too Early AM PST) went off beautifully.
If you're even generally into science, or just movies with a lot of spaceships and lasers, the Orion project should pique your interest. Its success is a key stepping stone towards building the most powerful rockets in history, capable of taking us ungrateful bipeds past the moon, to asteroids and eventually Mars. The thing itself is a mix of new and old technologies, and it's absolutely massive. Reminiscent of the Apollos of yore, this new space explorer is based on super powerful Delta IV Heavy rockets with the "Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle" perched on top. No crew today, but after proving itself it will seat 4 for future deepspace explorations.
I want to believe.
Thursday morning the lift-off was stalled by wind, misbehaving valves, and (somewhat surprisingly) a nosy boat. But even without leaving the pad, the security checks still yielded good information about the monitoring and powering systems. Today's launch showed that the setup worked very well, delivering the capsule into orbit a whopping 3,600 miles above Earth, passing through the intense radiation band of the Van Allen belt, making two orbits and a perfect on-target splash down off the coast of Baja. Vitally, it survived both lift-off (a traditionally explosive point), and a blistering 4,000 degree Fahrenheit reentry.
Scandinavia is famously cycling-friendly. Norway, with a population of just five million people, is home to some three million bicycles. But even for seasoned cyclists accustomed to commuting on two wheels, there are some obstacles that no one looks forward to tackling daily. One example is Trondheim's Brubakken Hill, a 130-meter uphill stretch of road with an incline ranging from ten to eighteen degrees.
The Brubakken was part of cyclist Jarle Wanvik's daily commute, and in 1992, he was sick of arriving at work each morning covered in sweat and with sore legs. He came up with the idea for the Trampe, a sort of in-ground ski lift for bicycles, and actually managed to get city backing for his company, Design Management AS, to build it the following year.
The brilliance of the paternoster system shown below is that it's always moving, conveyor-belt-style. Assuming a manageable flow of bodies, the "feed rate" could be continuous.
The modus operandi of a paternoster points to a very basic limitation with elevators that most people don't consider: With the latter, you can only fit one car per "line." Which is to say, you can't have cars stacked one on top of the other. And this, reckons German conglomerate ThyssenKrupp, is ridiculous. "The present use of one cabin per elevator shaft," the company writes, "[is like] using an entire railway line between two cites to operate a single train—clearly a waste of resources."
Transportation Design is undoubtedly one of the more glamorous subsets of Industrial Design. But the sheer complexity of designing a performance vehicle that must be safe, attractive, durable, and affordably mass-produced must present terrific restrictions. So this recently-unveiled, blue-sky project undertaken by GM's Advanced Design Studio must have been exhilirating to work on.
"[The Chaparral 2X VGT is] an example of what our designers are capable of when they are cut loose, no holds barred," said Ed Welburn, Vice President of GM Global Design. "A fantasy car in every sense of the word." That's because VGT stands for Vision Gran Turismo, the 15th-anniversary edition of the PlayStation videogame.
The game is where the Chaparral concept will "live," but despite it being a virtual project, it's cool to see GM's design staff--and members of longtime collaborator Chaparral Cars--speaking with such passion about the project. And the footage of it is pretty nuts:
Posted by Ray
| 13 Nov 2014
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.
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:
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:
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):
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.