Dutch satirist Johan Vlemmix, who brought us questionable songs about wearing a burqa and buses full of Polish people, is currently designing a phone app.
Motivated by the amount of fines he has had for using a mobile phone while driving and causing minor accidents ‘with no injuries’, Vlemmix’s app would provide the equivalent of an ‘out of office’ reply but then an ‘I’m driving’ version for all incoming messages, including social media. The app would be available in September for Android and iPhone, and it will be free.
Besides replying to the recipient who wonders why you’re not answering them back quickly, Vlemmix would leave his phone alone much easier knowing a reply was sent. Maybe he needs to tell his recipients to chill or needs to learn to let go of his phone while driving and realise that it is illegal to drive and text because it’s dangerous.
Boffins at the Eindhoven University of Technology have designed motorway noise barriers that are colourful instead of dingy and that also collect solar energy instead of just cutting down on noise and being dingy. Sonobs (Solar Noise Barriers) can be made cheaply, made resistant to vandalism and come in many colours.
The special panels built to make the barriers are made of luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs), coloured panels that receive light and direct it to the edges of the panels where traditional solar cells collect the solar energy.
“A year-long test project was launched on June 18 on two sections of noise barriers, each 5 metres wide and 4.5 metres high. The barriers are partially covered in the LSCs and partially covered in semi-transparent panels holding conventional solar cells, so that they can compare the performances of the two technologies.”
Initial research shows that a kilometre of the solar noise barriers can generate enough electricity to power 50 Dutch homes.
The province of Gelderland will try to achieve a world first in May 2016 when it hopes to run a shuttle service on public roads using self-driven vehicles.
The vehicles are called Wepods and should drive guests of the University of Wageningen from the nearby rail station of Ede-Wageningen to the university and back. Currently however the vehicle laws of the Netherlands don’t allow self-driven cars on the road. The province hopes to convince the relevant ministries during a demonstration in October. The first Wepod, produced by Ligier in France, was delivered in June.
Rotterdam was the first city in the Netherlands allowing self-driven vehicles on its territory. The Rivium shuttle bus however does not mix with other traffic and has its own road — it operates a bit like a train without the rails.
This is what the buses from my childhood look like and yet I’ve never even been to Cuba.
It appears Cuba buys up old buses from all over the world and doesn’t bother to change the signs denoting the line number and destination. This one says: “Geen dienst”, i.e. no service. RTVNH spotted the old line 14 bus to Uitgeest (a town north of Amsterdam). Checking the Flickr group Dutch Buses in Cuba is like looking at a small history of Dutch public transport.
Yellow is just the livery of this company, it doesn’t denote any specific type of service. The curtain with the sassy fringe seems to be a recent addition though.
Engineering students from the Delft University of Technology have done it again, winning this year’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Formula Student competition for the second time in a row.
The Formula Student competition requires engineering students to design, build and race a single seat racing car in just one year. Cars are assess on their acceleration, endurance, fuel economy, design and business cases.
Thousands of the world’s best young engineers were at Silverstone, Northamptonshire, England on 8-12 July. There were 135 teams in total, with 49 from the UK and teams from as far as Australia, Turkey and Ukraine. Team Delft claimed the prize at Silverstone this weekend with a total score of 909.3 out of a total score of 1,000 points. Germany’s UAS Zwickau claimed second place with 792.5 points, University of Stuttgart came third with 750.8 and the University of Bath was the top UK team, coming fourth with 748.4 points.
(Link: phys.org, Photo of the unrelated Forze IV hydrogen-based formula race car by Richard van het Hof)
The Solar Team Eindhoven from Eindhoven University of Technology presented its new solar-powered car this week, the Stella Lux, an ‘intelligent, solar-powered family car that generates more power than it uses’. The car will participate in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia on 18 October 2015.
By combining the aerodynamic design with lightweight materials like carbon and aluminium, the Eindhoven student team has once again come up with a very energy-efficient design. Stella Lux can reach a range of 1,000 km on a sunny day in the Netherlands [yes, we get more sun than we let on]. On balance the car generates more energy than it uses, which makes it energy-positive.
In 2013 Eindhoven took first place in the Cruiser Class title with its first car, Stella, in Australia. This year’s race is more about speed, which is why Solar Team Eindhoven decided to build a new and lighter car with fewer seats, although still a true family car that seats four and is fitted with a specially designed navigation system.
(Link: phys.org, Photo by Bart van Overbeeke/phys.org)
The first webcam I ever watched back in the mid nineties was that of a litterbox were viewers waited to spot the cat using it. Over the litterbox there would be different messages everyday like ‘send tuna’. If you caught the cat going to the box you were asked to take a screenshot of it (nobody had digital cameras or mobile phones with digital cameras back then), you could send it to the owner and he would send you something cool, I don’t remember.
The Archie software company in Purmerend has set up a webcam on a roundabout to test its software. Funny thing is some 250,000 Dutch people have checked it out and it’s getting traction. A journalist on Twitter who wrote about it said he witnessed a car that wouldn’t yield to a scooter, which they should do, making his viewing ‘eventful’. For anyone who wants to see how a typical Dutch town deals with bike paths and cars, this is for you. The stream is in 1080HD and looks good.
It makes me want to go and skate around it for a while. For all we know a happening is being planned. A marching band going around in circles, could be fun. Stay tuned.
Dutch racing driver Jan Lammers recently had the honours of racing the Delft University of Technology’s Forze VI, a student built hydrogen powered racing car on the world-famous Nürburgring racetrack in Germany. Lammers completed the 21 kilometre-long endeavour under 11 minutes, a world first for a hydrogen fuel cell powered car.
Although the Forze VI reached top speeds of 170 km/h around the track, the 50 students who have made this car a reality believe it can do so much more. Besides getting the car to reach the theoritically possible speed of 220 km/h, the Formula Zero Team Delft plan to race against combustion engine powered cars in various races, with the ultimate goal being the 24 hour Le Mans.
Last year a friend asked me to check a series of fines he received from France in French (in error), stating he had to pay the maximum fine for speeding even though he never got the original fines, which were for a lot less. Although an administrative mess, at least French speed cameras can read Dutch license plates. It took the Netherlands until sometime last year to be able to properly read French license plates on speed cameras and stop being the laughing stock of French speed freaks.
However, we’re still laughing stock to anyone that doesn’t have a Dutch, French, Swiss, German or Belgian license plate: the software in Dutch speed cameras can’t read anything else. The Dutch government keeps making lame excuses, while other European countries seem to have figured out how speed camera software works.
This also means that Dutch speed cameras don’t fine the notoriously fast driving Poles, Romanians, Bulgarians and Latvians who probably know all this and not suffer the consequences. It also attracts comments about the Dutch ‘paying for everybody’s mistakes’, as it is easier to nail locals for speeding that trying to decipher a Polish or Latvian address and registration that cannot be easily checked on the side of the road.
Speeding is dangerous, and apparently the Dutch government doesn’t feel that road safety is a priority.
After a few cities in Canada, it’s now the turn of the United States to embrace the building of a ‘woonerf’, a typical Dutch construct from the 1930s, an area where drivers, cyclists and pedestrians have to share the same space, but where pedestrians always have the right of way.
Ithaca, New York is building what they call a ‘living yard’ (‘woonerf’), with a low speed limit of no more than 10 or 12 mph (16 km/h to 19.2 km/h). Today in the Netherlands the woonerf speed limit is 15 km/h, although a few years ago it was still referred to as ‘stapvoets’, which is a old term from when people rode horses at a slow pace, which would be 6 km/h if it was really a horse, but not actually possible by car or bike without consequences. However, 15 km/h is still slower than what Ithaca has decided, which to me sounds too fast.
“The whole point is to encourage human interaction; those who use the space are forced to be aware of others around them, make eye contact and engage in person-to-person interactions.” As a North American, the car is always king of the road, but the woonerf forces drivers to realise that it’s not always their space just because there’s a road, which I think is a good thing to learn.