Tech Universe: Tuesday 12 March

By Miraz Jordan

Seperate two-way lanes will make it safer for cyclists. Photo / Thinkstock
Seperate two-way lanes will make it safer for cyclists. Photo / Thinkstock

INSPIRING BIKES: In London they're making some big changes to the roads, adding two-way segregated cycle tracks along around 25 Km of bike routes. A network of Quietways will take cyclists along peaceful side streets so they can avoid dealing with heavy traffic. The goals including encouraging cycling and making it safer and more friendly, while reducing motor vehicles and air pollution. The scheme will also include analysing data on accidents, trials of electric bike hire schemes, integration with rail networks and even training. What an inspiration.

UP, DOWN, TURN AROUND: Project Zero is an electric tilt-rotor aircaft that takes off and lands like a helicopter, but flies like a plane. Project Zero's 2 electric powered integrated rotors lie within the wingspan of the aircraft and can be rotated more than 90 degrees.

The rotors are horizontal during take off and landing but are moved to the vertical to work as propellers during flight. When on the ground the propellers can rotate freely in the breeze, working as wind turbines to help recharge the batteries. That's a cunning use of the propellers.

UP THE LINE: Many fish have a line of nerve cells that runs from head to tail. Those nerve cells detect vibrations and other data from the water and help them move around without bumping into other fish in a school. The nerves also help them determine the speed and direction of currents, hover in place and even swim upstream. A European engineering team has taken that information and applied it to an underwater robot called FILOSE, Robotic FIsh LOcomotion and SEnsing. Tiny electronic sensors monitor pressure differences in the water flowing around the robot and should make it more efficient in swimming upstream and hovering in place. Go against the flow.

WAVING TIME: Would you like your house to respond to hand waving? Spanish designers have created a prototype house where a wave of the hand will turn on the lights. The system uses a Kinect sensor and projects images on the wall or floor — for example an alarm clock, a web page or a computer game. Do we really want our houses to be monitoring our every move?

EYE ON THE BALL: The British Royal Navy's frigates are getting a powerful new radar system from BAE Systems. The Advanced Radar Target Indication Situational Awareness and Navigation, or ARTISAN, is a medium range 3D surveillance radar. It can detect an object as small as a tennis ball travelling at 3 times the speed of sound more than 25 Km away. It cuts through interference equivalent to 10,000 conflicting mobile phone signals. The system can also monitor more than 800 objects simultaneously at a range of between 200 and 200,000 metres. Don't try playing tennis with a warship.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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