Saturday, February 17, 2007

Freewheeling transport nations on the move

Chris Bull and an early version of the prototype

Excerpt of article:
In the summer of 2004, the two RISD professors teamed up with Chris Bull at Brown। Bull, whose paper- and book-laden office is in Brown's Prince Laboratory, said he had been working on transportation projects, in particular human powered and bio-diesel powered. For the past year, the team has been joined by Matt Forkin, a senior at Brown who is concentrating in engineering and visual technology.

While RISD has a workshop, Nichols said working with Bull at Brown's Prince Lab has allowed the group to "test ideas right away" on full-size prototypes. "We're used to sketching our ideas and working with small hand-held models," he said. The current vehicle is the third version the group has produced -- Prototypes 1 and 2 have since been disassembled with some parts incorporated into Number 3. "They're getting more sophisticated," said Bull. "The power train is pretty well developed." The motorcycle bench gives the vehicle the look of a snowmobile on wheels. Being electric, the engine was silent as the four sat in a row grinning and took a spin around the lab with Lye at the controls. They said they have taken it out on the streets around Brown, attracting bemused attention as they zip silently along. The vehicle is battery powered and can reach 40 miles per hour with a range of 40 miles on one charge. Bull said the batteries need to charge overnight if the onboard charger is used, but can be charged in four hours with a higher-capacity charger. The battery is lead-acid rather than lithium ion. "The price is right," said Bull.

Complete article here.