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Source: Autoblog Green
Volkswagen introduced a new concept at Auto China of the 2-wheeled kind: an electric bike capable of folding into the spare wheel well of your car. It's called the Bik.E, and although it's already been all over the blogs I feel it's a significant acheivement in elegant design. More importantly, however, it signifies a trend in more automakers pursuing light electric vehicles that integrate into conventional cars for enhanced urban mobility. Ulike an electric-assist bicycle, Bik.E has no pedals or chain, relying on pure battery power and contributing to its refreshing simplicity. Because it is designed specifically to augment the car, it only needs a 12 mile range, permitting an extremely small and lightweight battery. Another great example of a "personal mobility product." Check out the recent article on Autoblog Green which includes a video.
Honda has also been experimenting with enhanced mobility using LEVS, incorporating a version of its U3-X personal mobility vehicle into the door panel of one of its recent concept cars, the EV-N. Beyond this, folding bikes make a lot of sense in many situations where parking on-site is difficult or cost prohibitive.
Source: Autoblog Green
Velomobiles are pure speed forms...which makes them so much fun to sketch! No rules except absolute aerodynamic efficiency.
I'm adding a new section to the Speed Studio Blog. It's my Sketch Pad, where you'll see all of my rough ideas and concepts as they come into my head. You can follow me as I develop these ideas, and hopefully get a better understanding of my design process. This time, it's mobile phones!
Amy Stoddard and I were brainstorming ideas on cell phones for a design competition coming up. We wanted to come up with a refreshingly simple design that shatters the handheld "brick" paradigm. What we came up with is something that can be clipped to the ear, about the size of an Ipod Shuffle. Since more people are wearing their Bluetooth headsets all the time now, why not just wear the phone itself?
It's bare-bones phone with basic calling functions, able to stand alone as a phone or linked to an Iphone. It's operated by a simple multi-touch screen and using simple scrolling and tapping functions to navigate the menus, even while it's being worn. Voice activation is another way to navigate. Data entry and other more complex tasks can be handled via Bluetooth to a PC or other mobile device. The best part is, no more unexpected rings at the wrong moment!
Refreshingly simple and hands-free...A simple phone that works! Scroll down to see more...
America is unique in our almost total dependence on cars for most of our transportation needs. As a result we're the biggest consumer of fossil fuels and the largest emitter of carbon per capita. Much of our effort to reduce our dependence on oil has been focused on the development of hybrid and electric cars, and renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel. The auto industry is expected to spend over $50 billion to meet new federal fuel economy requirements by 2015, and major infrastructure expansions are being proposed like high speed rail. There's one transportation design solution, however, that I believe is being overlooked: Better urban planning.
The Center for Neighborhood Technology, a think tank focused on the development of sustainable living recently published a 24-page report called Penny Wise, Pound Fuelish that proposes a new Housing and Transportation Affordability Index that tracks the cost of housing vs transportation in 337 US cities, and proposes new ways to promote better community development to reduce both the cost and envronmental impact of our transportation system. Many Americans choose to live in surban and rural areas where housing is both larger and more affordable, but as we move further away from urban centers the cost of transportation goes up tremendously. CNT's report found that when the cost of transportation and housing are taken as a whole, the overall cost of living is actually higher as we move further away from the city. People are much more sensitive to changes in fuel prices, and longer distances lead to more time on congested freeways and less leisure time with family.
Most European and Asian cities were built up before the mass adoption of cars, and many of these cities are located in areas with natural geographic barriers like rivers, mountains and oceans that place limits on sprawl. This is why they tend to be much more compact, walkable and bikeable, and it's why they're much further ahead when it comes to mass transit.
Penny Wise, Pound Fuelish establishes a new benchmark for the cost of living that not only encourages Americans to live in denser communities close to work, school, shopping and leisure; it encourages local government to make smarter decisions with urban planning and infrastructure. The best part is it requires no breakthrough technology and little upfront investment, and positive action can happen on the community level. Best of all, Americans can vote with their feet by choosing to live closer to downtown. The natural result will be communities that are more walkable and bikeable, have efficient and cost effective public transit and allow people to drive fewer miles or even ditch their cars altogether. Read the full report to find out more!