Automotive X Prize and Airship Ventures

There were three 5-minute pitches from people competiting for the automotive X Prize, and one from Airship Ventures. Brief summaries follow:

Jack McCornack. This thing is called a low-cost, it’s a high school auto version of a Lotus 7. It weighs about half as much out of a Miata, we thought it through as something that gets high performance and mediocre milage. What if we switched it around? I’m a big fan of minimalist design; optimist things the glass is half full, pessimist thinks it’s half empty, minimalist thinks we’re using twice as much glass as we need. Escape from Berkeley – year is 2020, petroleum is a controlled substance. There was a New York Times article about it. After we won it we headed back north, we had a 32 horsepower engine. It gets 70 MPG right now, more streamlined will take us to about 90 MPG.

Jim Stansbury. This is a topic about extremes, we’re addressing the opposite end, the SUV. Transformed the “Green Giant” a 1985 Blazer, turned it into an electric vehicle. Two big electric motors, battery packs, replaced shock absorbers with hydrolic pump. Take our big heavy goliath and exploit that, the pumps add power to the battery pack. [He’s now explaining how the different systems feed electricity to each other.] Channels heat into a WHE, waste heat engine, like a steam engine. Put a solar collector on top of the roop, and add that heat to the waste heat engine.

In China bicycles are the #1 mode of transportation. One of the first products at Zap was an electric bikee, the law decided it was illegal because it was a motor on a bike, as long as it’s under 20 miles it’s still a bike, now have sold 100,000 of them. We made a 3-wheel electric vehicle, had to pass laws in 7 states to make it legal.  I did my first electric vehicle in 1973, because my professor said it was impossible. What about flying cars? THe Alias, wanted to create something that’s sexy, looks fast standing still, and that people actually want.

Airship Ventures. Story of bringing zeppelins back to the US. A shared dream with my wife, Alexander, and myself, we approached Zeppelin corporation, discovered they were still around. This is not your grandfather’s zeppelin. The ship contains the latest advancements over the past 70 years, rigid internal frame of carbon fiber, helium filled. How is the Zeppelin different? It’s much bigger. It’s about 246 feet long. The engines mounted on a blimp gondola are like a puffer fish, they’re small and not very efficient. Zeppelins have an aft engine, can take off at a 80 degree angle, more like a helicopter than anything else. Took about 18 months to build, finished May of this year, flew around Europe for a few months, and then had to get it here. Range of about 500 nautical miles, and only one month of the year it could do a crossing. Put it on a dock ship, to Beaumont, Texas. Reassembled it, and then we flew it here to California. The things we saw across the US were amazing, wild horses followed the shadow of the ship, it really gave you perspective of how darn big this country is. Eventually we reached California, went through Long Beach, came up the coast to CA, made a grand entrance over the Golden Gate Bridge, hovered, spun in place, flies at 1000 feet. Home is hanger 2 at Moffett field. Three models: flight-seeing, science missions, and advertising.

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