The sun shines. Temperatures creep into the 80s. A Harley roars down your street. You've got to go riding. So what's stopping you? Run to your garage, hop on your Lectra(TM), and take off. The Lectra, manufactured and marketed by EMB, Inc. (Sebastopol, CA), is the world's first commercially produced electric motorbike, according to company founder, Scott Cronk. EMB commercialized an advanced variable-reluctance (VR) electric drive system for vehicle drive applications. The newly patented VR motor is a compact brushless motor system, complete with custom computer controls. The VR has an electronically assisted braking mode. This extends the driving range and preserves brake life by converting the vehicle's kinetic energy into stored electrical energy during braking. The prototype and final design were created using CADKEY software by Baystate Technologies (Marlborough, MA). A cross between a motor scooter and a motorcycle, the Lectra weighs 340 pounds, runs up to 30 miles on a single charge, and features a single-speed transmission, lead-acid batteries, a top speed of 45 mph, and a price tag of $3,995. For the environmentally conscious, it has zero emissions, virtually no maintenance, and a low cost of operation, says EMB. Visit: www.motorbike.org.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.