The world's biggest gingerbread house, the largest ship and the fastest electric motorcycle top this week's gallery.
Texas A & M's Traditions Club set a Guinness Book of World Records for building the largest gingerbread house ever. The 21-foot tall, 2,520-square-foot structure is located in Bryan, Tex., 90 miles northwest of Houston. It took 1,800 pounds of butter, 7,200 eggs, 7,200 pounds of flour and truck-loads of candy to build. The house is open to the public through Dec. 14, and all proceeds from those visits will go to the trauma program at St. Joseph Health System.
Shell has built the world's largest ship. Longer than the Empire State Building is tall, the Prelude is a floating liquefied natural gas facility. Its total storage capacity is equivalent to 175 Olympic swimming pools, or 114 million gallons. It was built to withstand a category 5 cyclone, and will be moored in a remote basin 295 miles off the coast of Western Australia for about 25 years.
Experts think that by 2025, fully autonomous cars will be ubiquitous. A new auto startup called Zoox is planning for that day with its Boz, a self-driving car able to move forward and backward without turning around. The design eliminates the steering wheel, dashboard and pedals and uses the space to provide luxury seating for four people.
This week, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told correspondent Charlie Rose of the Sunday night TV news show “60 Minutes” that his company was developing drones to deliver online goods. Regulatory and FAA hoops aside, the drones are designed to deliver packages of around five pounds, which comprise 86 percent of Amazon’s deliveries. The tentative launch date for such a service could happen in the next four to five years.
Looks like the next human job to go to a robot will be the position of security guard. Calif-based startup company, Knightscope, is developing an autonomous, mobile robot that employs a host of technology, including a 360-degree high-definition video camera, thermal imaging sensor, infrared sensor, radar, lidar, microphones, ultrasonic speed and distance sensors and optical character recognition technology to monitor properties, building, schools, parking lots and more. The K5 and K10 models will collect data in real-time as well as store and analyze historical information that could be used to predict crime.
Sensoree's GER Mood Sweater uses galvanic skin response sensors -- the same used in lie detectors -- to light up LEDs around the collar. The lights change color with the wearer’s emotions.
The world's most powerful electric motorcycle, the 200 HP Voxan Wattman, does 0 to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and can travel 111 miles on a single charge to its 12/8kWh battery. Recharging takes just 30 minutes. Primarily a concept bike, the Wattman can be built by hand on an order-by-order basis.
In Japan, Nissan used six of their electric Leafs to help offset the electrical power needs of a building during peak use. The so-called ‘vehicle-to-building’ concept is based on the idea that the electricity stored in the batteries of a fleet of electric cars plugged into a building could be used to supplement a building's energy needs when demand for electricity from the power grid is high and also expensive. And then, later in the afternoon, when demand drops along with the price, the building can refill the electricity on the cars' batteries.
In this test, the Leafs provided enough power to reduce energy consumption during summer periods by 25.6KW. Nissan's Leaf-to-home concept works the same way, but for residential homes.
Researchers at ETH Zurich in Switzerland have developed a smartphone app that allows a person to take a series of photographs of an object and combine those images into a 3-D model of the object. The photographer can use the resulting image to produce a 3D-printed version of the image.
SAIC Motor Corp
Chinese automaker SAIC Motor has won the 2013 LA Auto Show Design Challenge with its concept Mobiliant, which takes inspiration from ants. Entrants for this year's competition were asked to create a transportation design inspired by nature under the theme "Biomimicry & Mobility 2025 -- Nature's Answer to Human Challenges."
The single seat Mobiliant has a translucent cover reminiscent of an ant's exoskeleton, except this shell absorbs pollutants from the air and, once its parked inside an "Ecobuilding," converts them into fertilizers. Fermented products from the process are used in return to power the car's biofuel cell.
The Copenhagen Wheel, designed by researchers at MIT's SENSEable City Lab, is ready for pre-orders. This wheel boosts the power of a bicycle with a tiny, smart motor that learns the rider's pedaling behavior and adapts to it. Regenerative braking charges the device on the downhill side of riding. An app allows the bike owner to lock or unlock the wheel, track usage and share riding information with friends.
Instead of six feet under, maybe it will be more like six hundred feet over. In Norway, where cemetery space is increasingly limited, a student designer is proposing a giant skyscraper for housing the dead.
Martin McSherry, a Royal Danish School of Architecture student, came up with this unique design for a vertical graveyard and entered it into a competition last fall held by the Nordic Association for Graveyards and Crematoria, Richard Orange wrote in The Local. Sounds like an esoteric contest, but finding a place to bury the dead in Norway is a growing problem, Gizmodo’s Ashley Feinberg reported in October.
The design, detailed in this Norwegian PDF, calls for a modern, latticework-like metal tower with a graveyard on every floor. The floors could be customized for special religious needs like coffins or urns. A crane would be stationed permanently next to the tower in order to add new floors, Orange reported. The competition’s jury noted (Norwegian PDF) that it was hard to take the proposal too seriously: McSherry nicknames the tower a “stairway to heaven.”
Lots of other writers have noted that above-ground burial structures are nothing new. Gizmodo’s Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan pointed to the Roman-era Mountain of the Dead in Egypt, Italian necropolises and stacked plots in New Orleans. There’s also the existing high-rise Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica in Brazil. McSherry’s plan still manages to spark debate, though. On the one hand there’s the view and on the other, it’s a skyscraper inhabited by the dead.
For all the attention his proposal received, McSherry didn’t actually win the Norwegian contest. The Local reported that his classmates Katrine Harving Holm and Henriette Schønheyder van Deurs picked up the prize instead. Their plan called for replacing individual tombstones with a shared memory wall and community area.
But I can picture a future where McSherry’s plan must get dusted off and actually built. Even a memory wall requires some real estate and whether we like it or not, the living don’t have an endless supply of that.
Credit: Martin McSherry (Norwegian PDF)