Wired NextFest Report: Wrap-up and more advanced vehicles

(Editor's note: to read the rest of Derrick's NextFest coverage, click here)

Overall, Wired's NextFest certainly wasn't the Paris Motor Show, nor was it meant to be. Instead, it was a gathering of new technologies in many different fields. On the positive side, I'd say that if there was any underlying theme other than new technologies, it would had to have been environmental reponsibility or sustainable green culture. Not every exhibit was focused on eco-friendliness, but a large portion of them were. I'd say close to one-third of the exhibits had something environmentally friendly to show which involved nearly half of the floor space (primarily due to the sheer size of GM's and GE's exhibits). What was great to see was that automotive and energy exhibits seemed to lead the way in environmental research and development.

Earlier, I gave focus to GM's portfolio of green machines, the fastest electric car in the world (which was built by Ohio State), Virginia Tech's Challenge X-leading E85-electric hybrid Equinox, Xof1's solar car aimed at breaking the world distance record, Carl Vogel's electric Harley, and Wheelsurf's mono-wheel, cycle-like recreational contraption. However, in this wrap-up, I'd like to at least mention a handful of other advanced vehicles that were present at NextFest: Noland's Bionic Dolphin, Newtsub's Deepworker 2000, General Electric's clean diesel train, AdRide bicycles and last but not least Paul Allen's SpaceShipOne.

Make the jump to keep reading. There are more pictures back there, too.

Noland's Bionic Dolphin

Considering that it's powered by a small-block Chevy V-8 offering up 425 hp, it's not exactly green, but one of Noland's representatives assured me they were working towards incorporating an electric motor that could be offered as an option. The vehicle is like a personal submarine without any ballast. It will dive beneath the surface of the water, but not for too long as it needs to come up for additional air (much like a real dolphin).

Newtsub Deepworker 2000
Deepworker is a small, efficient, untethered, electrically-powered, single-person sub that can effectively operate at a depth of 2,000 feet while providing a breatheable environment for 100 hours. It includes bio-sensors to monitor the physiological data of the pilot.

General Electric Evolution Series Hybrid Diesel Train
G.E.'s diesel train was a small part of a much larger exhibit on renewable energies. No, the actual train wasn't present, but a neat scale model was. It may be a misnomer to call this train a hybrid in the typically-used sense of the word in transportation, however, the underlying idea still saves energy. The train uses regenerative braking and stores the energy in a series of batteries for use by the crew. GE says this can reduce fuel consumption and emissions by 15 percent.

AdRide Bicycles
AdRide wasn't a part of any exhibit at NextFest, but the company keenly positioned their advertising bicycles right outside of the main entrance. No one was available to speak about the bikes' set-up, but it appears as though there's a small electric motor mounted to the chain to assist the driver. The reason I took pictures of this is because it seems like a great alternative to those mobile billboards being pulled by utility trucks throughout many metropolitan streets.

Okay, the only thing SpaceShipOne is more efficient than is the Space Shuttle itself, so it probably doesn't belong on this site, however, it was fun to see and it may very well be the first step towards a new kind of commute.

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