There are many benefits to living close to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, but, as any Cambridge resident will tell you, its effect on the aesthetics of the region is not one of them. Usually the best way to improve its visual appearance is to go a long way away. And then face in the opposite direction.
Even Addenbrooke’s can have its moments, though. It’s about 4 miles from my house, as the crow flies, so this was taken with a long lens from my kitchen window.
Fancy some fast, green, silent, smooth, aquatic transport? Me too. So the approach taken by SeaBubbles is really attractive.
They’re making electric hydrofoils which, once you get above about 6 knots, rise up and lose 60% of their drag.
They’re about the same size as a car, and the battery has the same capacity as my BMW i3. This would give you enough range, on their figures, to get you across the English Channel.
Here’s some nice footage of their tests on the Seine; they’re keen to promote them as water taxis. As they point out, many waterways have speed restrictions that wouldn’t allow you to get the most out of your SeaBubble…
They haven’t announced pricing yet, but I fear they’d be well beyond my reach, especially since I’d also need to buy a cottage by the side of a fjord to appreciate it fully.
But I hope I get a chance to ride in one!
Since my last post was about the most high-tech cars around, let’s go to the other extreme (well, almost), and look at the earlier days of automotive user interfaces. This, for example, is a handy guide for drivers of the Model T Ford, showing how you should adjust the throttle, and advance the ignition, based on what you want to achieve.
Kids these days have probably never seen a manual choke, let alone a manual ignition advance! (If you want to know what an ignition advance lever is and why you might need one, Wikipedia will tell you). Now, to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever had to use one either, but I’ve ridden in cars where the driver did.
I’ve never actually ridden in a Model T, though I’ve sat in one, in Henry Ford’s garage, no less. But if you should ever find yourself in the driving seat, don’t assume that the three pedals and the handbrake-like lever will do what you expect.
Here’s a nice demonstration to show you the basics:
One YouTube channel that I’ve been following for really quite a long time is Fully Charged, a series discussing electric vehicles, home power generation, renewable energy and other related topics. It does so in an amusing and light-hearted way, not least because it’s hosted by Robert Llewellyn, also known for his roles in TV series such as Red Dwarf, who’s a naturally engaging host. More recently he’s been joined by the motoring journalist Jonny Smith, previously a presenter on Fifth Gear. They make a great couple.
This weekend saw the first Fully Charged Live event, a two-day gathering at Silverstone organised by the team, with talks, exhibitions, demos of electric vehicles, and much else besides. This was quite a leap of faith for a small, self-published show – it was a big financial commitment and they were very nervous about whether it would be a success, but it seems to have been resoundingly so, to the extent that the catering and A/V facilities were rather overwhelmed on the first day, and extra arrangements had to be made – things went much more smoothly today.
Robert told me that they’d sold well over 5,000 tickets in advance and quite a lot more were bought at the event. Many people, like me, came for both days, so there must have been a good three or four thousand people there, I imagine, and the feeling of goodwill in the air was palpable; everyone wanted it to succeed.
There were lots of interesting vehicles to see; the Jaguar iPace was naturally getting a lot of attention, not surprisingly: it’s the most interesting big cat since the E-type, and the first I’ve actually wanted to own.
When it’s about 10 years old, I might be able to afford one.
In the meantime, I got to try out a couple of electric scooters, which were great fun — I think we’ll see more of those — and there were some lovely electric conversions of classic vehicles: I was particularly taken by these:
I, on the other hand, was staying nearby in my recently-acquired and non-electric campervan (of which more in a future post). This meant, that despite actually owning an electric vehicle, I actually turned up to Fully Charged Live in a VW diesel. I was joking with people that I needed a bumper sticker: “My other car is electric!”
I also got to meet Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield, whose Transport Evolved news show I’ve also been watching and supporting (in a very modest way) via Patreon for some time.
All in all, a fun and informative event. I wish it every success for the future, and will wear my T-shirt proudly.
© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser