3,000 K BY SUN:

In a couple of weeks the 2011 Veolia World Solar Challenge will have contestants driving solar powered vehicles 3,000 km from Darwin to Adelaide. Apart from 5kW hours of stored energy, cars must produce all their power from the sun or the kinetic energy of the vehicle. Teams have to pass through several checkpoints along the way and camp out in the desert at night. That must be a nice quiet

trip. More

on the World Solar Challenge.


PARKING SPORT: IBM and Streetline from San Francisco teamed up to add sensors to parking meters and analyse the data. The sensors determine if a parking space is taken by a car and how long the car stays. The aggregated data shows how a city's parking spaces are used over time. Meanwhile a smartphone app can alert drivers to nearby vacant parking spaces. Studies around the world show that drivers become frustrated and angry when they can't find appropriate parking spaces, and that driving around searching for spaces wastes fuel and creates pollution. And we all have the anecdotal evidence on that too. IT World.

MESS ABOUT BOAT: The Bodrum WaterBuggy from Turkey is a small circular boat best suited for pottering about in smooth water by the shore, like the pedal boats you see for hire. It features a 10 HP engine, and a single button for start and stop. Then use the joystick to drive. It takes up to three people and goes up to 10 km/h. A turbine system makes 360 degree turns simple. Looks like a lot of fun. Not so handy for families with two adults and more than one kid though. Waterbuggystore.com has details, and there's video here.

FIRE BOXING: Boeing's Precision Container Aerial Delivery System may offer a new way to fight huge forest fires. The system lets cargo planes drop more water more quickly and more precisely. Each container is essentially a reinforced cardboard box holding a water balloon with 950 litres of water or fire retardant. The boxes are easily loaded onto a cargo plane. Containers are dropped from a height that allows the plane to avoid dangerous flames and smoke, but a delayed opening mechanism makes the drops more accurate and effective. Great
in-the-box thinking. Boeing has more.

WHERE'S NOAH?: So there's a tsunami on its way and you don't have time to get to high ground. Maybe you'd rather take your chances in a yellow enhanced fibreglass tsunami escape pod called Noah. The company claim it's guaranteed to protect against tsunamis, typhoons and earthquakes. Features include a pole to hold on to. They also claim a pod can hold 4 adults, although the pictures make it look like it'd be
a very tight fit. Science News blog has more, and there's video here.

- Miraz Jordan knowit.co.nz