September 11, 2015 - 9:43 am
The month of September features several local events where flying, driving and bicycling machines all use electric motors for propulsion.
The first-ever Interdrone Conference and Expo launched this past week at the Rio, ushered in a brave new world of electric quadcopters and innovative flying machines.
A viral YouTube video last month featured an inventor in the United Kingdom who connected together a swarm of 54 counter-rotating electric propeller motors, each spinning at 5,000 revolutions per minute. A sled mounted below the hexagonal array of electric motors carried a passenger and battery pack, creating a SuperDrone that could fly about 10 feet off the ground with the pilot onboard for about 10 minutes. Check it out at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5JgnMJzCtQ.
Like an early Wright Brothers’ flight, it was a brief but groundbreaking glimpse of what a real flying car might look like in the near future. By using 54 short, 18-inch propeller blades, instead of six, long 5-foot blades like a helicopter, the inventor was able to employ inexpensive off-the-shelf parts, while also building a lot of redundancy into the design of his flying machine. The radio remote-control system and auxiliary components were supplied by hobby shops.
Other remarkable YouTube videos have shown electric drones pulling skateboarders up hills like motorized landsailors.
The Federal Aviation Administration will have its hands full during the next year, as the U.S. federal government takes on the challenge of creating new laws and policies to make the airways safe, but still accessible to new types of flying vehicles.
Skyworks Aerial Systems is a local business startup from the University of Las Vegas, Nevada. Its company founders also are seeking to simplify the process of building, programming and flying personal drones.
Skyworks AS used the KickStarter website to raise early funding, but also to publicize their company’s product lines. These include the Eedu educational drone hardware kit that comes with all the parts to assemble a drone development platform. The company’s forge software development kit strives to make it easy for a drone user to integrate sensors, communication and control electronics together through an open-source graphical interface, while also teaching how to remotely program the necessary flying, sensing and maneuvering instructions that operate the drone through an omnipresent cloud computing system.
The company founders are firm believers in creating interactive STEAM educational experiences that integrate science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics, so that each learning experience is fun and engaging.
Skyworks AS showcased its STEAM approach at East Career and Technical Academy during the past school year, while also helping film a music video promotion for the Life Is Beautiful festival coming to downtown Las Vegas later this month. The company will exhibit its own Drones x Art aerial showcase during the festival.
Not ready for a flying electric car? There are plenty of earth-based electric cars that riders can experience on four wheels Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve.
This event coincides with National Drive Electric Week, during which 165 cities around the world are organizing educational exhibitions to celebrate recent developments of electric drive technologies. Today’s Las Vegas event will include current model plug-in electric cars from local automotive dealerships, such as the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan LEAF, Ford Focus Electric, Ford Fusion Energi, Ford C-Max Energi, BMW i3, Tesla Model S and Porsche Panamera S E-hybrid.
The electric car meet-up will be staged in the Springs Preserve parking lot, where four ChargePoint stations are available to recharge an electric car’s battery pack. Visitors can learn how to plug their car into electricity that is generated from photovoltaic solar panels mounted above the parking canopy. Arrays of panels are attached to motorized beams that rotate gradually during the day so that each solar panel is always tracking the sun.
Visitors can also participate in the second Electric Juice Bar Crawl that will tour local public recharging sites. At each location, electricity is available at no cost for plug-in electric cars through a shared investment program managed by NV Energy. The electric utility provided ChargePoint recharging stations to MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment, Premium Outlet Malls, UNLV, Desert Research Institute and other host organizations in both Southern and Northern Nevada. All NV Energy corporate campuses are also equipped with EV charging stations that are available for public use.
The utility also announced a new Nevada Electric Highway initiative in June, in partnership with the Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy. The utility will seek to extend its shared investment program to five locations along U.S. Highway 95, between Las Vegas and Reno. These include Indian Springs, Beatty, Tonopah, Hawthorne and Fallon.
From Tuesday through Friday, the Interbike Conference and Expo will stage innovative transportation exhibits at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Ford Motor Co. and Bosch will showcase their mobility solutions for vehicles that can help commuters navigate the last mile to their urban job sites or recreational destinations when cars are not practical.
Ford has partnered with several electric bicycle manufacturers, including Pedego and Dahon. The MoDe:Me folding electric bicycle from Dahon can be stored and recharged in the trunk of a Ford vehicle while a mobile phone interface allows the electric bike to be compatible with other Ford Sync systems, even voice control.
An ultrasonic sensor on the rear of the bicycle can alert the rider to oncoming traffic.
Electric-powered bicycles and scooters have become popular in China and parts of Europe for more than a decade now but have been slow to catch on with consumers in the U.S. Personal transportation equipment in the form of self-balancing robotic platforms, battery-powered skateboards and electric roller skates have also been demonstrated during the Interbike Expo in an exhibit area sponsored by the Light Electric Vehicle Association.
So, this month, take a look at some innovative ways to get around the Las Vegas Valley, maybe even land your vehicle in a parking space from out of the sky.