> NEW YORK (Jan. 12) - The mystery invention code-named ''Ginger'' that has set
> the technology world abuzz may be little more than a motorized miniscooter,
> judging from a recent patent application that came to light on Friday.
Yes, this was discussed here a couple of days ago in a post Max forwarded.
However I believe a lightweight, motorized platform able to go up and
down curbs and stairs, with a clean, quiet non-polluting engine and
dynamic balancing capability does qualify for much of the hype which
has been surrounding it.
After all, if it caught on, people would design cities for it, just as
cities are now designed around vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
Riding on such a vehicle would be a remarkable experience, and the
dynamic balance would feel almost magical. You lean in the direction
you want to go and the vehicle automatically takes you there. It would
almost be like controlling it by pure thought.
Technically I am interested to see whether Kamen has been able to
use his Stirling engine for this purpose. On reading about these
engines at www.stirlingengine.com, they are highly efficient, clean and
quiet, but the problem is that they aren't as controllable as internal
combustion engines. You can't step on the gas and rev them up - they
take a few minutes to heat up, and then the power output is constant,
and when you shut them off they continue to produce power for a while.
This isn't very appropriate for a vehicle. Maybe for a scooter they
could use a hybrid Stirling/electric system but that would be bulky.
BTW www.stirlingengine.com sells model engines that run from the heat of
a cup of hot water, and one that even runs from the heat of your hand!
They are expensive, though, $100-$300.
Anyway, for me the scooter concept is still exciting and something I look
forward to seeing. A lot of folks online thought it was going to be a
Star Trek transporter or a personal helicopter or anti-gravity device,
and of course that was just silly. But people who have actually seen
the Ginger device are excited by it, and I am eager to learn more.
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