National News

Hoverboards, Futuristic Bikes, and Robots Galore: The Summer Haul of Science

Summer has brought a huge amount of technological advancements, especially in the field of robots and transportation. Ideas of hoverboards, aerodynamic bicycle designs, and robots as workers for everyday life has been in the minds of many enthusiasts and as of these last couple of months, it is becoming a reality. Test runs have come out successful and the road to a future filled with hovercrafts and other fantastical advancements is just within humanities grasp.

Lexus, the luxury division of the Toyota car company, has been working on something completely different from its normal line of work. In the past months, Lexus has created a working hoverboard, shocking the world of scientists and the population alike. Having its first released announcement at the beginning of summer, this Japanese auto manufacturer took out the flying skateboard for its very first test run Aug. 5th. While the test run was a true success, there are some drawbacks when dealing with its limitations.

The mechanics of the hoverboard, nicknamed as The Slide, is just as complex as it seems in its creation. To hover off of the ground, The Slide uses magnetic levitation, a mechanic that somewhat parallels the maglev trains in Japan, China, and a few other countries. While there are some parallels, both use the science of magnetic levitation in completely different ways. Maglev trains work through the use of electromagnets repelling against one another to make the hovering effect. The Slide, on the other hand, uses a combination of electromagnets, repellents, and a temperature-based nitrogen for super-conductions. Such strong magnetics within the hoverboard must be kept at sub-zero temperatures to allow such hovering to take place.

The greatest drawback to The Slide is the fact that it cannot freely move around on any type of surface. Just like maglev trains, the hoverboard can only transverse across a specific type of surface that is riddled with “permanent magnets” to create a magnetic track. Other attempts at hoverboards have had these same problems with its inability to simply hover over just one specific ground. As of right now, it is evident that scientists in the field of magnetics and hovercraft invention must get over the obstacle of flexibility across different platforms.

On other forms of transportation taking concept art by storm is the bicycle being created by creative director Robert Egger. With such strict regulations and guidelines in UCI (Union Cycliste Internationle) when making new frames of bicycles, Egger has taken all of these rules and discarded them for the purpose of developing a bicycle of the future. Not being burdened by these strict regulations, the fUCI bike takes the concept of a bike to a new level, and while it will not be able to participate in official races, it will have the ability to flourish as a mode of transportation much faster and better.

Aerodynamic in its frame design, the fUCI is the first step in making high-tech bicycles that are for speedster who are not in the official racing committee. It has a unique rear-wheel, there is a motor with a lithium battery, solar panels are an additional feature, and other electronic features are available throughout the design. The rear wheel is 33.3 inches while the front wheel is significantly smaller. This feature allows the fUCI the ability the maintain speed easily, though getting to such a speed does take some effort. To balance out the effort needed, the fUCI also comes with a motor to assist in stopping and going. The bike comes with a charging stand that has both solar panels and a detachable lithium battery. There are also electronic features such as a docking station for smartphones, as well as onboard sensors and front and rear lights.

As new modes of transportation are being developed and transformed to ways of the future, robotics have also been busy this summer. Something crazy and completely over-the-top is going on within robotic advancement. A hotel created and employed solely by robots is up and running in Japan known as the Henn-na Hotel, or the Weird Hotel. It is a part of a theme park Huis Ten Bosch in Nagasaki and was created by Hideo Sawada. Even though it has been made within a theme park, the functionality and innovation of the hotel is very serious in how employment will be seen in the future.

Fully functioning, the hotel has a receptionist desk manned by two different receptionists, one speaking Japanese and the other speaking English. The female humanoid robot, with extremely life-like skin and eyes, speaks Japanese. A raptor-like robot with vicious teeth and an outfit paralleling that of a bell-boy attire speaks English. Every aspect of the hotel is taken in control by different forms of robots and the robots even have facial recognition. Luggage it stored by a robot, facial recognition is the way to get into room rather than keys, and there is a little robot named “Tuly” is a personal assistant to guests.

As for the costs of going to Henn-na Hotel, it is relatively cheap. At about $80 a night, it is easily accessible to the average family to be able to experience such a walk into the future of technology. Every part of the hotel has its own personality, allowing guests to have an unforgettable time. Life-like woman Japanese receptionist, vicious raptor bell-boy English receptionist, and a cute little assistant named ‘Tuly” who gives guest the weather for the day and other cute little helpful advice, are just the beginning of robotics and staff.

The 2015 summer has been an explosion of technological advances, a big step in the direction of making science fiction a reality. With a work-in-progress hoverboard, a futuristic bike breaking all the UCI guidelines, and a functioning hotel manned by robots, nothing is completely impossible anymore. While all of these things still have a long way to go before it can be marketed, progress is coming and it is coming fast. Soon the world will be filled with robotic servants and transportation is going to go in fantastical direction.

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