Latest GoKart News
Nov 13, 2020
If the smart specs already on the market aren’t enough to get you excited, why not make your own? That’s exactly what electrical engineer and product designer Sam March has done, with the help of a CNC router and some app coding. The device is a follow-up to the smartwatch he made last year. Built from scratch, the smart glasses link to a phone app to give the wearer walking directions, with LED lights close to the eyes pointing the way to go. While they’re unlikely to transform the product category, it’s an impressive DIY project – and March has posted full instructions online if you want to try making your own. You’ll need a pretty varied set of skills to pull it off. The bamboo frames for the glasses were designed in Fusion360 and CNC machined, before being stained and fitted together with glue. Next, the lenses were cut out of dark gray tinted acrylic, following the same software and hardware workflow, before a tint film was added. Next, March coded an iPhone app using the Swift language, borrowing the phone’s GPS location and mapping capabilities to work out the walking route from one spot to another. This app communicates with a custom-made circuit board fitted to the frames of the glasses to light up the LEDs when required. The finished “smarchGlasses” wearable flashes a blue light next to the left or right eye to indicate a turn, with a green light displayed when the final destination has been reached. Everything is powered with an embedded, rechargeable lithium-ion coin cell battery. A custom-made circuit board converts walking directions into flashing lights Sam March/Imgur “At the end of the summer, I was walking around town soaking in the sun, while trying to avoid people (because, well, pandemic),” writes March , explaining how the project first began to take shape. “As I typed in my next destination to my phone and started following the map, I realized I wasn’t really enjoying the sights or the world around me. I was hyper-focused on my phone screen and watching myself on the map, making sure I didn’t miss a turn. “While staring at the little blue dot, Ferris Bueller, in all his infinite wisdom, spoke up in my head. ‘Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.’ It was in that moment, I decided that I wanted to make some smart sunglasses that gave me turn-by-turn directions!” While commercial products such as Google Glass have failed to take off in a significant way so far, March hits upon one of the potential key uses for smart specs: hands-free navigation and a way of escaping the pull of the smartphone screen. Expect more mass market products in the future. Apple and Facebook are two of the companies rumored to be working on their own smart specs at the moment, with a wide variety of functionality and augmented reality features apparently in the pipeline. In the meantime, you might want to try making your own. In a glimpse of futures that could’ve been, Porsche Design Studio has unveiled three street car concepts that have never before been shown to the public: one Le Mans racer-based hypercar, one open-top sportscar, and one electric riff on the Kombi van. The process of automotive development is torturously long; by the time a production car is being introduced to the public, chances are the company behind it is already well into the development of its successor. There are many steps in the process, from sketching and clay modeling through engineering, concepts through to production shapes, and while companies frequently show off futuristic concept cars to test the waters of public opinion, it seems there are many that never see the light of day. Here are three such oddities, released today by Porsche as part of a push for a book, Porsche Unseen, which focuses in on the design side of the business. The Porsche 919 Street Porsche Porsche’s 919 was a phenomenally successful Le Mans LMP1 endurance racer between 2014 and 2017, coming third in its first manufacturer’s championship and then running away with the next three before being discontinued as Porsche went to focus on Formula E instead. Its 2-liter turbo V4 sent a peak of about 500 horses to the rear wheels, and this was augmented with an energy-recovery hybrid electric system driving the front wheels that could boost power over 1000 horses for short bursts. Its success in the World Endurance Driver’s Championship drove Porsche to investigate whether this race-bred monster could be turned into a road-going hypercar. The result: the 919 Street concept. The look of this thing translates beautifully; its stretched-out wheel arches, bubble cabin, razor-sharp aeros, outrageous vertical fins and slash-cut taillight design would look right at home pulling up out the front of a casino in Monaco. Unfortunately, its race-bred powertrain proved too complex and highly-strung for the quotidian vicissitudes of life on the public roads, so Porsche knocked it on the head and moved on. The Porsche Vision Spyder Porsche The roofless Vision Spyder was an attempt to marry a modern design aesthetic with the spirit of the Porsche 550 of the 1950s – indeed, the very “Little Bastard” that James Dean drove through the Pearly Gates in 1955. Well kept 550s frequently go deep into seven-figure territory at auctions – the combination of a lightweight chassis, mid-mounted engine and those famous curves with implied fins at the back, unencumbered by a bulky roof, screamed “wild and free” and made it an instant classic. The Vision Spyder goes out of its way to pay its respects, with a similarly low and flat shoulder, the sloping hood, the bifurcated engine vents behind the cabin and a more angular take on the voluptuous fin bulges on the 550. It takes things into the modern age with its highly technical underbody aeros, detailed roll-bar, hood and hip vents and straight, vertical headlights. And of course there are big nods to the Rebel without a Cause. James Dean’s 550 had a big number 130 on the back – Vision Spyder is numbered 131. The show plates read “Little Rebel,” and while Dean’s car had red racing stripes leading up from the taillights over those rear fins, Vision Spyder puts this concept in negative and takes its red stripes from the hip vents forward. It all works. Though it was built just as a design study, it’s a bit of a stunner. The Porsche Vision Renndienst Porsche “Renndienst” is one of those famous German concatenations meaning “race service,” or something similar, and this weird, blimpy, tiny electric van is some sort of futuristic, vaguely sporty reference to Porsche’s relationship with Volkswagen and its famous Kombi van. The racy bits can be seen in the slim, bubble-shaped cabin, which looks like it could drop down just about seamlessly into a 919-style hypercar, as well as exaggerated wheel arches and side windows that taper off at outrageous angles to completely obscure the view from the back seats. Speaking of seats, the cabin layout features a single, central front driver’s seat with two passenger seats behind and out to the side, much like the McLaren Speedtail or Gordon Murray T.50 supercars. This one might be the most practical of the three, but it’s also the most … aesthetically challenging. It’s really a chance for the design team to play with a new visual vocabulary for the brand’s electric future. Hence the liquid-smooth front, the slashed-in headlights, the largely single-surface body shape. We wouldn’t expect to see this kind of thing make it through toward production. These three cars, as well as twelve others, are detailed in the Porsche Unseen book available from today through Delius Klasing publishing. A selection of these Unseen cars will be presented in the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart next year. Lots more photos in the gallery , enjoy! Two years ago, transportation company Segway-Ninebot branched out with an electric go-kart designed to thrill young and old drivers with a frame built to drift, rather than travel at any great speeds. The company has now rolled out a more powerful version dubbed the Gokart Pro, which will not only nudge the speedometer that little bit higher, but offer even more sideways action thanks to a new built-in drifting assistant system. Launched in 2018, the original Gokart was actually a conversion kit for the company’s miniPro transporter , turning the two-wheeled traditional “Segway” into an electric four-wheeler capable of top speeds of 16.8 mph (27 km/h) and an 11-mile (17-km) range. The newly launched Gokart Pro can travel at up to 23 mph (37 km/h) and cover 15.5 mi (25 km/h) on each charge. Shipping of the Gokart Pro will kick off in December 2020 if everything runs smoothly Segway Ninebot Segway-Ninebot is also promising greater steering response and durability from the Pro model, along with an acceleration that is 1.5 times greater. Power comes from a pair of hub motors generating 4,800 W and 96 Nm (71 lb-ft) of torque, pushing the go-kart from a standstill to its 23-mph top speed in a matter of seconds. Because these hub motors operate independently, the user’s drifting experience can be tailored to push different power outputs to each of the rear tires. This is handled through the Drifting Assistant System in the companion smartphone app, where drivers can not only fine-tune their drifting, but choose from four driver modes with different top speeds and control the effects coming from the vehicle’s lights. Segway Ninebot has taken to Indiegogo to raise funds for production of its Gokart Pro Segway Ninebot The Gokart Pro is also capable of climbing hills of a 15 percent incline, features a set of speakers that simulate engine sounds of a gasoline-powered go-kart and has a reverse gear for backing out of sticky situations. Segway Ninebot has taken to Indiegogo to raise funds for production of its Gokart Pro, where early bird pledges start at US$1,599. Shipping is slated to kick off in December 2020 if everything runs smoothly. You can check out the pitch video below. [embedded content] Lightning strikes are a major trigger for wildfires, including the record-breaking blazes that devastated Australia , California and other regions this year. An international research team has now demonstrated a method that could effectively control where lightning strikes, using graphene microparticles trapped in a “tractor beam.” A bolt of lightning can become hotter than the surface of the Sun – so it’s no surprise that when they hit dry grass, shrubs or trees, they can spark fires. Couple that with the fact that climate change is reducing rainfall in already fire-prone areas while potentially increasing the intensity of lightning storms, and you’ve got a dangerous recipe. This year’s devastation could become a worryingly regular occurrence. But what if we had a portable device that can be carried out to the site of a storm, and set up to guide lightning away from fire hazards or vulnerable buildings? Such a breakthrough may be a step closer to reality, thanks to a new study from researchers at Australian National University, the University of New South Wales, Texas A&M, and the University of California, Los Angeles. A “lightning” bolt in the lab follows the path of a laser tractor beam The team demonstrated the concept in a lab, by first recreating stormy conditions using two charged parallel plates separated by a small gap of air. Normally, jolts of electricity jump between the plates at random, mimicking lightning, but by using some clever physics, the researchers were able to control where the bolts traveled. “We had a relatively simple setup,” Andrey Miroshnichenko, co-author of the study, tells New Atlas. “It was just two conducting plates, which were charged. And then we introduced particles, hot particles inside a tractor beam, which induces the discharge between two plates. It showed that we can control where and when the discharge should happen, between the two plates under lab conditions.” In nature, lightning is essentially electricity looking for the most conductive path to complete a circuit from cloud to cloud, or cloud to ground. For us casual observers, that path often appears random as the bolts arc and fork across the sky, but they’re following very specific channels of ionized gas, which are more conductive than the air around them. In theory then, you could help guide where lightning strikes by giving it a very conductive path to follow. And that’s where the graphene microparticles come in. With its light weight, strength, and excellent thermal and electrical conductivity, a chain of graphene particles can create the perfect path. “We introduced hot graphene particles in between (the plates), and in order to do that we used what was called a tractor beam,” Miroshnichenko tells us. “A tractor beam is a hollow core laser beam, and particles were trapped inside. And that’s how we delivered particles in the space between the plates.” Professor Andrey Miroshnichenko (left) and Dr Vladlen Shvedov (right) in the lab Lannon Harley/UNSW Canberra This kind of tractor beam won’t be capturing spaceships anytime soon, but it has been shown to work on particles for around a decade now. Essentially, particles are trapped in the center of the hollow laser beam , because whenever they drift into the light a small thrust known as the photophoretic force pushes them back into the darker center. Energy from the laser also happens to push the particles forward, and heats them up. When they get hot enough, they ionize the air around them, creating a path along the laser beam that’s more conductive – so it’s all but irresistible for lightning. Put simply, wherever you point this tractor beam, lightning is much more likely to strike. “We have an invisible thread, a pen with which we can write light and control the electrical discharge to within about one tenth the width of a human hair,” says Miroshnichenko. The effects are clear in videos of the lab experiments (below). The first clip shows the beam of graphene microparticles, which are glowing so brightly from the heat that you can’t even see the electrical discharge zap through them. In the second clip, the lightning is much more obvious – the first bolt follows right along the beam. After that the beam is switched off, but the next few strikes still follow the rough path left behind by the residual heat. By the end of the video, the lightning goes back to its regular random pattern, highlighting just how much a difference it makes when controlled. [embedded content] Tractor beam control of lightning strikes While graphene was a handy test subject, it may not be necessary. Miroshnichenko says that eventually the tractor beam could be made to trap and heat up whatever particles are on hand, including potentially those already in the ambient air. Another benefit of the new system is that it can be done with relatively low-powered lasers, operating on the scale of milliwatts. Other teams have tried directly ionizing gases using pulses of high-powered lasers, but this technique isn’t as efficient and can’t propagate as far as the tractor beam. While it’s so far only been tested on small scales in the lab, Miroshnichenko says the system should be relatively straightforward to scale up. The technology is already there, and he hopes to have field tests completed within the next three or four years. Ultimately, having machines that effectively control where lightning strikes could be invaluable for reducing wildfires, and the huge environmental and property damage and loss of life they incur. Electrical sparks propagate along a chain of graphene microparticles in a tractor beam. In this test the electrodes are 30 mm apart, three times further apart than other runs There are still major hurdles to overcome though. At this stage, the experiment was all about inducing the discharge and channeling it to a desired point. Natural lightning is obviously far more powerful than sparks between two small plates, and the team doesn’t yet have the tech to deal with that energy. It would need to be dissipated into the ground the way a lightning rod works, but doing so safely is its own challenge. In the meantime, the lab-scale technology could also find applications in manufacturing such as welding, or in medicine as a kind of optical scalpel to remove cancerous tissue. The research was published in the journal Nature Communications .