Vectrix hybrid scooter for commuters: Coller than the Segway
Engineers at Vectrix Corp. are working on the industry's first hybrid fuel cell/electric-powered scooter, due out in approximately 3 years. An all-electric version will be introduced within the next 18 months. Parker Hannifin has partnered with the scooter maker to develop the direct methanol fuel cell, which will operate continuously at its rated power output until the battery pack is fully charged, then it will shut off. "A big advantage is that drivers won't have to rely on a charging infrastructure. All that's required is methanol and water—the same thing you have in your windshield washer fluid," says Craig Maxwell, VP of Innovation and Technology at Parker Hannifin. Engineers say the scooter's performance will be comparable to other vehicles powered by two-stroke, 250cc engines. Target acceleration is 0 to 50 kph in 4 seconds, as experienced by Maxwell's test ride on an early prototype: "Being a guy, I didn't want to hang on to the engineer driving the scooter, so I thought I'd just hang on to the scooter. When we started up, I nearly flew off the back end of the thing," he recalls. The scooter is targeted at the commuter market and will retail for $5,500.
A few weeks ago, Ford Motor Co. quietly announced that it was rolling out a new wrinkle to the powerful safety feature called stability control, adding even more lifesaving potential to a technology that has already been very successful.
It won't be too much longer and hardware design, as we used to know it, will be remembered alongside the slide rule and the Karnaugh map. You will need to move beyond those familiar bits and bytes into the new world of software centric design.
People who want to take advantage of solar energy in their homes no longer need to install a bolt-on solar-panel system atop their houses -- they can integrate solar-energy-harvesting shingles directing into an existing or new roof instead.
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