July 31, 2019

Dutch recumbent bike designed to go 120 km/h

Filed under: Bicycles by Orangemaster @ 11:07 pm


The National Military Museum located on the former air base at Soesterberg had a special attraction recently that had nothing to do with old planes, helicopters, tanks or military equipment: a recumbent bike that is made to go 120 kilometres an hour.

The VeloX 9 recumbent bike – a bicycle that places the rider in a reclining position – was designed by 16 students of the Delft University of Technology and the University of Amsterdam for the World Human Powered Speed Challenge to be held September 8-14 in Nevada, in the United States. Team VeloX 9’s goal is to break the women’s record of 121.8 kilometres per hour with Dutch riders Rosa Bas from Utrecht and Jennifer Breet from Leiden.

The highest speed ever achieved in the Netherlands on the bike is 70 kilometres an hour purely due to lack of a free, straight track to be able to fully test it. Even at the airfield, it could only go 50 km. What must be a breeze to test in the United States is a space issue in the Netherlands, but that’s never stopped the Dutch before.

(Link: rtvutrecht.nl, Photo of Delft University of Technology by Gerard Stolk, some rights reserved)

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July 22, 2019

Black background enhances fresh produce

Filed under: Food & Drink by Orangemaster @ 2:17 pm
Purple tomato

A joint study between Brigham Young University in Utah, the United States and the Delft University of Technology claimed to have found a way to get people to buy more fresh produce. Conducted by American professor Bryan Howell and Dutch professor Hendrick Schifferstein, the study looks at how the backgrounds of grocery store displays impact the attractiveness of vegetables, and a black background is apparently the best.

Howell said that in the design world, black has always been the cool colour, but didn’t know it would carry over into the vegetable world. Both researchers asked 46 participants to assess five vegetables on various shades of backgrounds between black and white. The study participants gave attractiveness and perceived expensiveness ratings for the mushroom, bell pepper, carrot, tomato, and eggplant against each background. These are all commonly sold vegetables in the United States and the Netherlands.

“Yellow peppers were rated as the most attractive and expensive across all the white, grey and black backgrounds, while carrots generally rated the least attractive and expensive. However, carrots got the biggest boost in ratings when paired with a black background, even jumping eggplants and mushrooms in attractiveness.”

Locally, my only concern is the ridiculous amount of plastic packaging on vegetables in some Dutch supermarkets. An entire plastic tray for two avocados with plastic around as well is too much plastic for me and I wish we’d worry about that.

(Link: phys.org, Photo: gelderlander.nl)

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April 23, 2018

Flying a hydrofoil boat is like riding a bike

Filed under: Bicycles,Sustainability,Technology by Branko Collin @ 12:10 am


Controlling a single-track hydrofoil is like controlling a bicycle, two Masters student from Delft University claim in a paper published in Naval Engineers Journal last month.

“We used a mathematical model to validate whether a single-track hydrofoil using two foils, one behind the other in the water, would remain stable in the same way as we stay upright on a bike,” one of the students, Gijsbert van Marrewijk, told Delft University last week. The principle of staying upright on a bike is the one of steering into the fall.

Van Marrewijk and his co-author Johan Schonebaum were inspired by the hydrofoil boat of the Solar Boat team of their university, of which they were members. Hydrofoil boats have wings under the hull that lift the boat out of the water, reducing drag and, all other things being equal, increasing speed. Using a single-track hydrofoil reduces drag even further over the more conventional and more stable multi-track vehicle.

See the 2015 version of the Delft University Solar Boat team in action:

For some reason recent versions of the boat have returned to multi-track hydrofoils. The mathematical model developed by the two students should make it easier to test new designs in a computer simulation.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Gbvm2, some rights reserved.

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October 23, 2017

Training crows to pick up cigarettes butts

Filed under: Animals,Health,Technology,Weird by Orangemaster @ 12:34 pm


According to Statistics Netherlands, in 2016 about 24% of the Dutch population over 25 smoked and many people who still do continue to act as if the world is their ashtray and litter everywhere. To counter this serious problem, a Dutch designer has come up with a way to pick up their butts up that involves training crows to do it.

A start-up called Crowded Cities set up by designers Bob Spikman and Ruben van der Vleuten plans to manufacture and install ‘crow bars’ in the urban landscape. The idea is to teach crows to pick up cigarette butts in exchange for food that is dispensed by the same device.

The video below also mentions that some research will have to be carried out to see how making crows do litterbugs’ dirty work will affect the crows on the long term. You can be sure animal activists will keep an eagle eye on that development.

Spikman explains that their machine will not dispense food if the bird were to put a lollipop stick on the delivery platform, and the video also mentions that the food is only dispensed once the butt is on the delivery platform, as that would make it quite an expensive bird feeder.

Getting people to pick up after themselves has clearly failed and any ideas the pair had over a type of vacuum machine to pick up butts weren’t feasible, so they’ve gone with crows. Even biodegradable cigarette filters aren’t an option because plastic and chemicals still end up polluting the ground and nature.

Watch the first six minutes of this video in English to get a feel for the crow bar.

(Link: trouw.nl, Screenshot of video)

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September 10, 2017

What happened to the Superbus?

Filed under: Automobiles,Sustainability,Technology by Branko Collin @ 5:05 pm


It was a crazy idea that might just work—the Superbus, a cross between a Formula One car and good old public transport.

The Superbus was one of the many sustainable inventions that Delft technology professor and former astronaut Wubbo Ockels either came up with or helped develop. It would have comfortably carried 23 passengers in bucket seats on a custom built road between Amsterdam and Groningen, cutting current travel times to shreds.

But even before Ockels’ death in 2014 the Superbus had disappeared off of the world’s radar. It’s website is still up, but hasn’t been updated since 2012, with the exception of an obituary for Ockels. And where did the actual prototype go? Dagblad van het Noorden decided to find out last June.

The prototype is currently stored in a warehouse at the University of Delft, where it was developed. A spokesperson for the university told the paper: “The bus is still in a good condition, although it can no longer be driven. We had to remove the batteries for safety reasons, for example.”

Ockels’ widow Joos told the paper that it would take several months to get the bus roadworthy again. She receives regular calls from people and organisations that want to rent the vehicle for a trip.

The bus’ license plate expired in 2014.

Several organisations have expressed interest for exhibiting the Superbus. The Transport Museum in Lelystad however has to first overcome the obstacle of not yet existing, and a plan to store it in a facility of Stichting Wadduurzaam (presumably so that it could be displayed to the public) failed because the storage space would have to be fixed first, which would be too costly.

See also: Dutch spaceman Wubbo Ockels dies.

(Photo by Jan Oosterhuis, some rights reserved)

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September 4, 2017

Dutch man walks with exoskeleton

Filed under: Design,Science by Orangemaster @ 9:58 pm

Students of the Delft University of Technology have designed an exoskeleton for a paralysed Dutch man who cannot use his legs. Their goal is to help people with a transverse lesion carry out daily activities in more than just a wheelchair.

The student team Project MARCH that developed the exoskeleton wants to play a role in collecting data on exoskeletons in order to get a better idea of the added value this technology has to offer as compared to the use of wheelchairs.

Early this year the students unveiled the design and last week the man tried out the exoskeleton the students made for him. Check out the video of the man walking again here (in Dutch).

Sometime in October Project MARCH will showcase the exoskeleton with the man in it at an international competition.

(Links and photo: nos.nl, www.tudelft.nl)

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June 28, 2017

Copyright for robot artwork, a future decision

Filed under: Art by Orangemaster @ 9:28 am


A year ago when a group of scientists, developers, engineers and art historians from organisations including Microsoft, Delft University of Technology, the Mauritshuis in The Hague and the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam revealed an artwork called ‘The Next Rembrandt’ made from collating data of 168,263 Rembrandt paintings, it was about a new way of creating a work of art.

This year instead of having data and computers creating a Rembrandt, we now have a robot actually painting works resembling old masters, but the question then arises: who owns the copyright of these works? We found out last year that copyright cannot be held on artworks made by non-human animals because copyright can only be held by legal persons, so that means robots don’t count.

“Earlier computer-generated works of art, machine learning software generates truly creative works without human input or intervention”, and again that could easily apply to a painting rabbit. The argument is that since copyright can also be held by companies because they too are ‘legal persons’, there should be some sort of copyright on the artwork that robots produce. On the other hand, suing a rabbit or a robots over copyright seems like an exercise in futility and madness.

Despite all the different laws, rules and distinctions in different parts of the world as well as the ginormous amount of computational power available to us today, one day we’ll have to decide if we want artworks created by intelligent computers to be protected by copyright.

(Links: phys.org, theguardian.com, Photo www.artmarketmonitor.com)

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June 1, 2017

High-speed public transport getting closer

Filed under: Technology by Orangemaster @ 9:37 pm


Today, outside in the sun at the Delft University of Technology, Dutch start-up Hardt Global Mobility, working together with BAM construction, unveiled a 30-meter-long and 3.2-meter in diameter white transport tube to be used to create ‘a futuristic high-speed transportation system’.

Known as the Hyperloop and originally suggested by Elon Musk of Space X and Tesla fame in 2013, the goal was to transport ‘pods’ with people in them at a whooshing 1,126 kilometres per hour, powered by electricity and magnetism that hurtle through low-friction pipes. And yes, it all sounds like science fiction and the Ceres station in The Expanse, which even has a stop called ‘Rosse Buurt’ named after Amsterdam’s red light district.

There are talks of building a transport tube between two Dutch cities within the next four years to be able to test cornering and lane switching. Being able to move goods from ports like Rotterdam is also in the cards.

On The Expanse, the pods are part of a subway station (a weird word to use considering that everything is underground on Ceres Station) and start whooshing at 0:47.

(Link: phys.org, Photo of Delft University of Technology by Gerard Stolk, some rights reserved)

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March 19, 2017

Big anti-drone competition coming this winter

Filed under: Dutch first,Technology by Orangemaster @ 12:22 pm

In December this year, Delft University of Technology will be hosting ‘DroneClash’, the first ever Dutch anti-drone competition. At this competition participants will use their own drones to take down as many other drones as possible and also avoid a series of anti-drone obstacles.

“Drones can fly into our lives, but we need to be able to take them out again if necessary”, says Bart Remes of the TU Delft Micro Air Vehicle Lab. The goal of the competition is to generate new ideas for the drone and anti-drone industry. A year ago we also told you about the Dutch police training eagles to attack drones.

Watch the video and follow the link to sign up for DroneClash if that’s your thing.

(Link: tudelft.nl, Photo of Drone by Karen Axelrad, some rights reserved)

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January 8, 2017

‘No more bike wheels stuck in tram rails’

Filed under: Bicycles,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 8:30 pm

A Dutch friend once told me about when he was a student in Amsterdam and went on a date, which involved the girl hitching a ride on the back of his bicycle (on the rack) and instead of having a typically fun and possibly romantic moment of her having to hold on to him, the front wheel of his bike got stuck in a tram rail and they both fell.

SafeRails solves the well-known problem of getting your bike wheels stuck in tram rails. Invented by two engineering students, Ward Kuiters and Roderick Buijs, SafeRails is a profile made from recycled plastic that can be inserted into existing tram rails. The idea is that bike wheels cannot get stuck in the rails and the tram can ride right over the profile as if they weren’t even there.

SafeRails is sustainable, durable and makes cycling safer. The guys’ goal is to start with The Hague, the political centre of the country, but first they need to win The Hague Innovators Challenge 2017 and are currently in second place. You can vote, too.

In Dutch with English subtitles:

(Link: www.bright.nl, Photo of the Kinkerstraat by Wikimedia user Ilonamay, some rights reserved)

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