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Specialized releases its lightest-ever carbon bike – for kids

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Because they’re quickly outgrown and have to take a lot of abuse, toddlers’ bicycles often seem kind of cheap and clunky compared to “real” bikes. For parents who just don’t want to go that route, Specialized is now offering the Hotwalk Carbon balance bike.

While the original version of the Hotwalk has a regular aluminum frame, the Carbon edition sports a carbon fiber frame, fork, handlebar and wheel rims. It also features a lighter version of the base model’s Rhythm Lite tires, resulting in a claimed total bike weight of 4.63 lb (2.1 kg).

It can accommodate li’l riders weighing up to 40 lb (18 kg), and standing up to 35 inches (89 cm) tall.

Besides simply looking snazzy and being light, though, the Hotwalk Carbon is also said to offer a better ride than traditional balance bikes. This is reportedly made possible by kid-friendly smaller-diameter handlebar grips, sleeker chain stays that allow for easier planting of the feet on the ground, and the stiff yet shock-absorbing characteristics of carbon fiber.

It also has a low-friction saddle, with a handle on the underside that allows parents to pick the bike up and carry it as needed.

And no, it certainly isn’t cheap. If you want one, be prepared to shell out US$999.

Source: Specialized via Pinkbike

Source: https://newatlas.com/bicycles/specialized-hotwalk-carbon-balance-bike/

NEWATLAS

HyVibe System brings digital smarts to any acoustic guitar

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French sound design firm HyVibe hit Indiegogo in late 2017 with an acoustic guitar infused with digital smarts. Now the company has announced a kit that can turn pretty much any acoustic into a hybrid smart guitar.

“Acoustic guitar players have high standards for natural sound, but also want the features and flexibility of digital,” said HyVibe’s Dr. Adrien Mamou-Mani at the time of the crowdfunding push to get the HyVibe guitar into production. “We address these needs by using the natural vibration of the guitar to create the best possible sounds and add digital control and connectivity to give the player effects, recording, and playback – all within the guitar itself.”

That acoustic was made by fellow countrymen Lâg Guitars, with HyVibe’s technology cooked in to make effects available to the player without having to plug into an amp, while also offering an onboard looper, a sound recorder, tuner, metronome, EQ and a Bluetooth speaker.

But musicians wanting to tap into the technology had to buy into a new guitar direct from HyVibe. Now the company says that the piezo sensor, high-speed processor and actuators are available as a kit for installation into any acoustic by after-market specialists.

The HyVibe System kit comprises a processing unit, piezo sensor, two actuators and outputs (though you don't need to plug into an amp or external effects chain to use the digital smarts)
The HyVibe System kit comprises a processing unit, piezo sensor, two actuators and outputs (though you don’t need to plug into an amp or external effects chain to use the digital smarts)

HyVibe Audio

Once installed, the sensor measures the vibrations of the strings as they’re picked, and the signal routed to a processor. Two actuators mounted inside the guitar (on the back of the soundboard near the bridge) then start exciting the guitar. Vibrations are measured again and readings sent back to the processor for optimization, and to nip any feedback in the bud. This process is said to take less than 23 microseconds. The player controls the show from an interface installed on the upper side of the host guitar.

The battery-driven HyVibe System results in effects sounding without having to cable the instrument up to an external amp or stomp chain, players can jam over backing tracks streamed to the Bluetooth speaker from a smartphone, and more.

Slide maestro Justin Johnson recently took the HyVibe guitar for a spin and posted a walk through to his YouTube channel. Players can expect similar results from the new HyVibe System kit, which is priced at US$390 and available now for after-market installation.

Product page: HyVibe System

Source: https://newatlas.com/music/hyvibe-system-guitar/

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NEWATLAS

NASA sets date for next Boeing Starliner launch

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NASA and Boeing have set a target date for the second launch of the Starliner spacecraft, which was designed – along with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon – to return crewed launch capabilities to American soil.

Back in 2010 NASA launched the Commercial Crew Program (CCP), an initiative that sought to facilitate the creation of new human-rated spacecraft that would end America’s reliance on Russia’s ageing Soyuz capsules to transport astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

Rather than opting to construct the capsules themselves, the CCP subsidized commercial entities such as SpaceX, Boeing and the Sierra Nevada Corporation to research, design and fabricate the spacecraft. In doing so, the agency hoped to create a fleet of reliable, and relatively affordable reusable spacecraft.

The Boeing Starliner, formerly known as the CST-100, is one of two human-rated capsules that is being developed under the CCP. Once fully operational, Starliner will be capable of transporting seven astronauts at a time to the ISS, and on paper at least, should be capable of being reused up to 10 times.

In order to be certified as human rated, spacecraft being developed under the auspices of the CCP have to be rigorously tested. This includes countless performance evaluations of the capsule’s parachutes, its software, vibration and heat testing, and a range of other examinations.

Prior to carrying its first human crew, the spacecraft must also undertake a number of orbital test flights, culminating in a rendezvous with the ISS.

Boeing's Starliner capsule being mated to its service module ahead of the upcoming launch
Boeing’s Starliner capsule being mated to its service module ahead of the upcoming launch

Boeing/John Proferes

On December 20, 2019, Starliner roared into the skies above Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on its maiden mission to near-Earth orbit. However, the historic occasion, which was years of work and many millions of dollars in the making, was cut short by a series of issues. Starliner returned to Earth on December 22, having spent just two days in space.

An independent review later revealed that the failed mission resulted from a number of software malfunctions and communication issues that needed to be addressed prior to Starliner’s next launch.

On January 18 this year, it was announced that Starliner had finally completed the recertification process for its flight software. The next step will be a second mission to low-Earth orbit, during which it will once again test its hardware and software, as it attempts to rendezvous and dock with the International Space Station.

NASA announced in a recent press release that the upcoming mission, referred to as Orbital Flight Test – 2 (OFT – 2), could launch as soon as Thursday, March 25.

Assuming that there are no further technical delays and that weather is favorable on the day, Starliner will launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in Florida. If all goes well Boeing will be one vital step closer to achieving its goals under the Commercial Crew Program.

However, it is worth noting that Boeing is well behind its CCP rival, SpaceX, which launched its first crewed mission on May 30 last year, and in December launched with Crew Dragon once again, to bring new crewmembers to the ISS.

Source: NASA

Source: https://newatlas.com/space/nasa-boeing-starliner-orbital-test-flight-2/

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Folding tiny house tucks away for easy transportation

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We’ve seen tiny houses that extend upward, tiny houses that extend outward, and even tiny houses that take the roof off, but the Brette Haus puts another interesting spin on the small living movement with a folding design intended for easier truck-based transportation. It also comes with a lot of different options, including off-the-grid functionality and various interior layouts.

The project brings to mind the M.A.Di home and features a hinge system rated for up to 100 relocations. Once on-site, installation takes just three hours and also doesn’t require a permanent foundation. There are obvious concerns with such a novel design however, so we reached out to Brette Haus for more information on its durability.

“The folding mechanism is an engineered product made specially to work with hardwood and fold high weights,” explains Brette Haus UK representative, Tatjana Boreckaja. “Plumbing, electricity, and prefabricated furniture are sustainably fixed so when you deliver it – nothing falls. We are providing transportation instruction with how to unfold and how to fold as well when you want it, there will be several instructions to avoid any issues.”

The firm’s rep also explained that it has been tested in rough weather conditions with no issues. There are currently three models available: the Compact, Urban, and Rustic, and these range in size from a usable floorspace of 17 sq m (182 sq ft) up to a maximum of 39 sq m (419 sq ft). The Rustic model is shown and starts at €18,700 (roughly US$22,000) for the smallest and most basic model, which can rise by a lot depending on the options chosen. It’s suitable for use as a co-working space, cafe, weekend getaway, and full-time home, depending on layout.

The Brette Haus' interior decor is simple and consists of unfinished wood
The Brette Haus’ interior decor is simple and consists of unfinished wood

Brette Haus

Each cabin is primarily constructed from CLT (cross-laminated timber) and comes with a basic utilitarian interior, though like a lot of prefabricated homes there are loads of options available, including being able to trick each house out with a smart home setup, an off-grid system with solar panels and batteries, and home comforts like a dishwasher. Towable tiny house-style wheels can even be added too, though it’s not clear if it would be road legal.

The Rustic model shown features a basic and quite snug layout. Visitors enter into a combined living, kitchen, and dining area, with space for seating and a dining table. The kitchen, such as it is, contains a sink and countertop as standard. Nearby is the bathroom, which has a shower, sink, and toilet. Steps lead up to the sole bedroom, which is a tiny house-style loft sleeping area with a low ceiling and a hatch to close off the stairs area.

The Brette Haus features a standard tiny house loft-style bedroom accessed by steps
The Brette Haus features a standard tiny house loft-style bedroom accessed by steps

Brette Haus

The Brette Haus is made in Latvia and is available throughout mainland Europe and the UK. Delivery to USA and Australia is also available at extra cost.

Source: Brette Haus

Source: https://newatlas.com/tiny-houses/brette-haus-folding/

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NEWATLAS

Sono Motors and EasyMile embed solar cells in driverless shuttle

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At the online-only CES 2021 earlier this month, German mobility startup Sono Motors revealed a collaboration with EasyMile to install its solar technology on driverless shuttles. Now we have a few more details.

Sono Motors took to the virtual stage at the Consumer Electronics Show expo to show off the latest pre-production prototype of its Sion electric city car, which features 248 photovoltaic panels integrated into all straight and curved parts of the vehicle’s body to provide up to 34 km (21 mi) of extra range per day.

In ideal conditions, that could be enough for a short commute to work without having to plug in for a top up, but the battery pack can be connected to a charger for longer journeys – the total per-charge range is reported to be 255 km (158.5 mi) on the WLTP cycle.

With a production vehicle yet to roll out, Sono Motors is already looking at other applications for its embedded solar cell technology, and EasyMile’s EZ10 autonomous pod is among the first.

CEO and co-founder of Sono Motors, Laurin Hahn, announced the EasyMile partnership at CES 2021
CEO and co-founder of Sono Motors, Laurin Hahn, announced the EasyMile partnership at CES 2021

Sono Motors

The electric shuttle has already seen use in more than 30 countries around the globe, and the partnership is now fitting out a prototype with Sono’s patented panel technology to test the potential for reducing the number of charging intervals.

A full charge of the pod’s battery pack can see it trundle along for up to 16 hours, and it takes six hours for a full recharge from empty when cabled to a charger. The installation of solar cells is not intended to replace traditional chargers, but it is hoped to keep the shuttle on the road for longer between cabled charges – as it harvests solar energy while parked up or moving along.

“This could give the driverless shuttle even more autonomy as it would be more independent of the charging infrastructure,” stated EasyMile in a press statement. “A big cost-saver for private sites as well as an advantage for the many communities that use the shuttle as an extension of the public transportation network.”

Source: EasyMile

Source: https://newatlas.com/urban-transport/sono-motors-easymile-ez10-solar-cells-prototype/

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