Design Student Proposes Z-Shaped Electric Motorcycle

The Z motorcycle fits a large battery into its slim frame. Plus, a supersonic airliner and a robotic songwriter.


Robot Singer-Songwriter Prepares for Tour

Shimon is a singer-songwriter robot created by Georgia Tech researchers. Shimon plays the marimba, writes the lyrics with human collaborators, and has the voice of an angel.

The team (or band) recently recorded a 10-song album and will hit the road for a tour — with way different logistical issues for a roadie.

Shimon was created by Georgia Tech Professor Gil Weinberg. Weinberg gives Shimon a theme, and the robot uses AI to compose the lyrics. Weinberg then creates the melodies for the lyrics. 

In a way, Shimon is classically trained, learning from data sets of 50,000 lyrics from jazz, prog rock and hip-hop. The robot uses deep learning to generate his own words that it actually sings. Its voice was created by a team from Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, which used machine learning to develop the voice based on hundreds of songs.

Recently, Shimon added some new hardware to interact with its bandmates and have more of a stage presence. That includes a mouth, eyebrows and new head movements designed to help convey emotion. 

The band released its first single, “Into Your Mind,” from the upcoming album "Shimon Sings" scheduled to be released April 10. It features lyrics like, "Shades of delight, rich as a book before night." I've heard worse. 

Weinberg hopes the tour shows can become more than a novelty act. Is it OK if I come to see it anyways? I'm just wondering where we’re at with an OK Go collaboration. Just really seems to be in their wheelhouse. 

Boom Supersonic Won’t Just Be Fast

Founded in 2014, Boom Supersonic has spent the last six years with a team 140 strong creating an aircraft they promise will be the fastest commercial airliner in history. 

Boom is now assembling the XB-1, a Mach-2.2 supersonic demonstrator aircraft. A one-third scale airplane that’s sort of a proof-of-concept of the company’s Overture, the commercial aircraft that will seat 55 to 75 people and be capable of flying 1,688 mph. 

The company is not only trying to launch a supersonic airliner, but it's the first OEM in commercial aviation to commit to a fully carbon-neutral aircraft test program. 

According to Boom, the XB-1 test program will use sustainable aviation fuels and carbon offsetting to achieve carbon neutral status. The XB-1 demonstrator will prove out key technologies for safe, efficient and sustainable travel at supersonic speeds.

In June 2019, Boom partnered with Prometheus Fuels to supply carbon-neutral jet fuel. Prometheus removes CO2 from the air and uses solar and wind power to turn it into jet fuel. 

Boom's XB-1 is almost ready to fly, and when it does, it will be the first independently-developed civil supersonic aircraft in history. 

Boom says that fares on the Overture will be similar to long-haul business-class flights. The planes will cost about $200 million, plus options and interior, but the company already has pre-orders from Virgin Group and Japan Airlines.

Z-Shaped Electric Motorcycle

Joseph Robinson has been sketching cars for as long as he can remember. However, one of Robinson's latest projects is a new electric motorcycle concept. 

According to Robinson, electrification shouldn't be limited to cars. And while we've seen motorcycles electrified for economic reasons, Robinson stresses that motorcycles are vehicles of pure thrill. And the instantaneous but smooth acceleration that electric power promises could be ideal in city traffic or on canyon rides.

So Robinson designed the Z motorcycle, which fits a large 30 kw/h battery into the slim frame in a way that can be easily swapped out. 

The design includes foldaway handlebars and foot pegs as well as a telescopic strut.

The Z shape on the side of the bike is also a screen that could display graphics — anything from charging status to turn signals or a tachometer. 

I put it somewhere behind the Curtiss Motorcycles and even the LiveWire because, if anything, they're closer to the market. They’re real. 

The Z motorcycle has its skeptics, particularly when it comes to the front and rear suspension and steering. 

What’s most impressive is that Robinson is still a student at ArtCenter College of Design for Transportation Design. You can follow him on Instagram to see some of his promising work, and I look forward to seeing what he comes up with in future designs.

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