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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May 3, 2014

Measuring rain with smart umbrella invented by Rolf ‘MacGyver’ Hut

Filed under: Technology by Branko Collin @ 11:32 am

umbrella-55laney69Rolf Hut from Delft University of Technology wants to turn umbrellas into devices that help scientists measure rain, BBC reports.

Apparently measuring the old fashioned way using rain gauges has become too expensive. Dr Hut’s umbrellas will be outfitted with a piezo sensor stuck under the canvas to measure vibrations caused by falling rain and with Bluetooth capabilities.

The inventor told BBC: “Eventually every umbrella would come with this technology, or at least premium umbrellas would. And if you wanted to be involved, the moment you opened the umbrella, it would start sending data to your phone which uploads it to the cloud.”

It strikes me that there are all kinds of statistical problems with this idea. You’d first need to know when owners use their umbrellas. Some people may stay in during heavy rain regardless of whether they own an umbrella or not, some will use umbrellas in drizzles, some will use umbrellas in the sun.

In fact for a moment I thought this was a belated April Fools’ joke, especially considering the ‘uploading rain to the clouds’ comment above, but apparently the umbrella was presented in a Pooh bear prototype form to the general assembly of the European Geosciences Union which took place last week.

Dr Hut says on his university profile web page that his colleagues have dubbed him the ‘MacGyver scientist’ for coming up with innovative ways of measuring weather using off-the-shelf technology.

(Link: Bright, Photo: 55Laney69, some rights reserved)

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April 30, 2014

Kickstarter kicks off in the Netherlands

Filed under: Film,Gaming,Photography,Sports,Technology by Orangemaster @ 9:55 pm

On Tuesday April 29 crowdfunding website Kickstarter now features a page for the Netherlands. Before then, Dutch residents with good ideas had to register their project through another country like the United States. Since then, about 30 new project ideas have popped up on the Dutch page, while the rest are projects that were around when they had to circumvent the country issue. And just like in other countries, Kickstarter takes 5% off the top when and if projects achieve their financial goal.

One of them was more fun than anything else: the ‘Fish on wheels’ (on Kickstarter). Other projects include lots of board games, music, tech, film and inventions.

Tip to the lightbulbs: please let someone check your English if you want to be taken seriously.

(Link:, Photo of Lightbulb by Emil Kabanov, some rights reserved)

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December 10, 2012

Artist produces real white clouds in a room

Filed under: Art by Orangemaster @ 1:22 pm

Hailed as one of the best inventions of 2012 by America’s Time Magazine, Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde is able to create a perfect white cloud in a room by meticulously regulating the air’s temperature, humidity, and light.

“When the conditions have been made just right, Smilde brings the cloud into existence using a fog machine. The cloud lasts only minutes, but the blending of art and nature is beautifully moving.”

(Link:, Photo of Cloud by Mollivan Jon, some rights reserved)

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March 2, 2011

Odd design objects by Dennis de Bel

Filed under: Design by Orangemaster @ 10:21 pm

Photo: Sew-O-Phone, 2007.

Launched in the Fall of 2010, Repositoire Printemps, a dynamic art and design label by Dennis de Bel, label focuses on ‘design-interventions’, exploring the possible and impossible in both the physical and virtual world.

His work is inspired by everyday life. Associations made between everyday objects and media result in hybrid forms and ‘new media’. Recognizable but subtle and clever. His work focusses on: consuming design/design interventions/questionable design.

(Link and photo: trendbeheer, via: dennisdebel)

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