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The HumanCar LMV Imagineâ„¢

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Fossil fuels are expensive, non-renewable in the short term, and are the root of some major geopolitical tensions. Biofuels are causing problems with the production of food for our planet. And the places we need to go are still too far to walk. Could a human-powered vehicle be the answer?

435Human Car .jpg

HumanCar is the world's first human-electric hybrid automobile. It works like a cross between a handcar and a rowing machine, and it's been compared to a Flintstones car, but inventor and company CEO Chuck Greenwood insists the design was inspired by drag racing cars. The production model is street legal. The rowing motion recharges the battery, which in turn can be used to power the car (and you can also plug it in). In addition to normal auto gauges, the company offers optional biometrics to monitor your physical extertion. And yes, you can get a cup holder. As well as internet acccess in your HumanCar. Scroll down to the bottom of the preorder page for an options list. After decades of tinkering, prototypes, and testing, the HumanCar LMV Imagineâ„¢ model is set to launch on April 22nd (EarthDay) in 2008.

This video of a prototype chassis in use shows you how it goes.

Fascinating, but it raises a lot of questions. I mainly use a car to haul people and things. Neither my kids nor my elderly relatives can be counted on to pull their weight (so to speak). Greenwood was happy to address my questions in an interview by email.

How do you steer it?
Body-Steeringâ„¢ is like a ski or a board. The two front pilots steer the vehicle with angulation. It rocks. It's fun. BodySteer utilizes more degrees of freedom than leaning - like riding a motorcycle. High speed handling is critical to the safe performance of any vehicle. Why make a 200 MPH chassis/suspension system? Why not? BodySteer is at least as effective as wheel steering - some would say much more effective.

If two people are steering, does one have override control?
Either can control the vehicle, but there is an exotic sensory input when you feel the others sharing the activity. Dominant/Submissive arrangements work, and so does real-time cooperation.

Could the HumanCar carry people who don't contribute to the power (meaning children)?
Yes and cargo as well (1000 lbs.)

How many people are required for it to work properly?
111Humancar_FM4 One to Four. Three people works quite well. Of course, with one or two people you are probably going to want auxiliary power.

When does the battery assist come in?
100% Variable - So you can rock it just a little or full blast anytime.

How does the driver control the speed?
Advanced braking systems.

Have you ever parallel-parked this car?
Yes, with Cool Fuel Roadtrips as seen on YouTube and Google Video.

Is there any place to carry cargo (groceries)?
The Imagineâ„¢ LMV will have a rather large (est 6 bags of groceries) sized cargo area.

111Rod and FM4 NaturalWho is going to manufacture these?
HumanCar(R) Inc., we may also license options to manufacture globally.

Since the latest artwork is a drawing, can we assume that what will be
manufactured will look different from any of the prototypes?

Best question ever, it's a hot rod in essence and in parallel the whole project is in constant evolution. Notice the chassis on the FM4 Troublemaker and notice the integration of design from the 189mph Research Rod. Now the recent ideations that are being distributed are renderings from the actual CAD files. It's delicate to release exactly what the car will look like but we can share this: The new body style is sexy and essentially WYSIWYG.

Will there be a cover for the weather?
Yes. A T-Top pop top deal.

Can it be used in the rain?
Yes and snow.

Will there be two models available?
We make three- download the info. kit from our site and check it. We are focusing 100% on the Imagineâ„¢ LMV electric human hybrid right now. They are exotic at first - think of a Carrera GT for Low Mass Vehicles. Soon we will be able to make them from recycled plastics and the cost will come down to a near free price point with co-marketing and branding scenarios.

Greenwood also said:
111Humancar_FM4_CSG_PE We are part mad scientists, part hot rodders, part musicians and patrons, like my dad says, "Everybody says they are ready to rock, now let's see it!" We are just trying to carry some weight and show the world that a small group of independent thinkers can make it happen at the big picture level.

This concept causes us to stop and think about why we drive a car in the first place. If you are driving yourself to work and want to save gas and stay fit, then by all means, ride a bicycle. The advantage of the HumanCar is that it allows you to do those things as a group, or carry cargo and passengers. If you drive to save yourself a walk, then you would want to go with an all-power car, electric or hybrid.

The LMV Imagineâ„¢ will run you $15,000. It's the hot rod model. The first production run as a limited edition of 100 vehicles. If more demand is created, a larger production run should bring the price down. Whether it will take off depends on several things. Greenwood noted that when the first prototype was built, gas was 32 cents a gallon. Would you drive a car like this if gas were $5 a gallon instead of $3? When you figure the cost of the car vs. money saved on gasoline, throw in the money you save by not buying a fitness club membership. That brings up another point: will the product be viewed as an exercise machine more than a vehicle? It might prove to be more popular in countries where gas is precious and physical exertion is already the norm. And in the end, it comes down to usability. It if really can haul kids and groceries, travel in the rain and snow, climb hills, and keep up with traffic, it might be the wave of the future. We'll look forward to hearing how those who have preordered HumanCars feel about them after a few months of driving. And we'll look forward to checking out their biceps and triceps!

Find out more at HumanCar.

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11 Camping Essentials to Get You Through the Summer
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iStock

If you're hitting the trails this summer, you'll want to make sure you've got everything you need to make your trip to the great outdoors the best it can be. Before you lose cell service, grab these 11 camping essentials.

1. ALITE MONARCH CHAIR; $55

Treat your butt to this comfy hammock chair, which is perfect for sitting around the campfire. The patented design only has two legs (you’ll need your own legs to balance it) but that means it can easily perch on uneven terrain where other camping chairs can’t go—not to mention you can use it as a rocking chair. When packed up, it’s just a foot long and weighs just a little over a pound, so it can go anywhere, whether that means the soccer field on Saturday morning or a long backpacking trip.

Get it: Amazon

2. SCRUBBA WASH BAG; $48

Wash your clothes on the go with this little bag, which has a textured washboard lining to give your clothes an actual scrubbing. Throw your clothes in, add water and soap, then slosh the bag around for a few minutes to get a high-quality wash for your sweaty, dirt-laden outdoor gear. Then empty out the soapy water, rinse, and hang your newly cleaned clothes to dry. Scrubba also makes a bag designed just for delicates, a travel clothesline, a camping towel to dry your clothes, and even a set of inflatable hangers.

Get it: Amazon

3. PACKTOWL; $10 - $50

This travel-ready towel dries 30 percent faster than the traditional cotton version, and despite its thin form, it can absorb up to five times its weight in water. It comes in multiple different styles, sizes, and colors from lightweight hand towels to deluxe beach blankets, the largest of which folds down to be about the size of a kid's lunchbox. The company touts its PackTowl Luxe as “the most luxurious fast-drying towel available”—and having used it as a very comfy desk blanket to ward off frigid office temperatures, we’d have to agree.

Get it: PackTowl

4. OTTERBOX VENTURE COOLER; $250 - $400

Otterbox’s Venture Coolers are just as indestructible as the company’s famous phone cases. They’re waterproof, drop-tested from every angle, and can be made certifiably bear-proof with a $30 lock set. You can add slide-on cupholders, a bottle opener, a cutting board, and other accessories as needed; you can even organize the interior into compartments to keep your fruit from getting squished by your soda, your bread from getting wet from your icy beer, etc. And the 2-inch foam insulation is designed to keep your ice solid for a full 14 days.

Get it: Otterbox

5. KICKER BLUETOOTH SPEAKER; $150

Kicker’s heavy-duty outdoor speaker is water-resistant, durable, and fits in a cupholder. But don’t let the small size fool you: It’s also capable of churning out “muscular bass” beats. It’s got 10 hours of playback, plus a built-in USB port that you can use to charge your phone.

Get it: Amazon

6. SEA TO SUMMIT X-SERIES COOKWARE; $105

When you’re carrying everything you need to survive for days, weight matters. So does size. These aluminum-base, silicone-walled dishes and pot are a little pricey, but they take up barely any room and weigh less than 1.5 pounds. The two-person cook set comes with a pot (and a lid with a built-in strainer), two bowls, and two mugs. They collapse almost flat and fit together like nesting dolls, saving you space in your pack or in your car. Note: You’ll need a camping stove, because an open fire will burn the silicone sides of the pot.

Get it: Amazon

7. KELTY SINE 35 SLEEPING BAG; $240 - $260

Even if it’s summer, you probably still need to prep for cold nights. This sleeping bag has easily customizable ventilation so you can adjust it for whatever the weather. Outside magazine calls the Kelty Sine 35 “a smart choice for almost everything.” The diagonal zips make it easy to get in and out of, and if you’re a feet-outside-the-covers person, there’s a vent down at the bottom of the bag for your tootsies.

Get it: Kelty

8. SUMMER MOON 2 TENT; $160

This squat tent is super simple to set up because it only uses two poles. At less than 4 pounds, it’s also the lightest tent on the market for less than $200, according to its manufacturer Sierra Designs. It’s designed to function in three seasons and also comes in a three-person size. It comes equipped with Sierra Designs’s Night Glow, an accessory that turns your headlamp into an overhead light.

Get it: Amazon

9. JETBOIL FLASH PERSONAL COOKING SYSTEM; $80

This handy system lights up with the push of a button and boils two cups of water at a time for coffee, instant oatmeal, dehydrated meals, and more. It’s essentially a combo stove/Thermos, which you can use both for cooking and as a drinking vessel. The Neoprene sleeve protects your hands while it’s hot—with a color-changing indicator to warn you when it is—and it comes with a lid you can use to drink straight out of the cup once everything is done boiling. When you’re done, the fuel, stove, and accessories all fit back into the cup for safe storage in your bag.

Get it: Amazon

10. RADIANT 300 RECHARGEABLE LANTERN; $39

Your campfire can only be your sole source of light for so long. This ultra-bright rechargeable lantern works for five hours at its brightest setting and 27 hours at its lowest, recharging in three-and-a-half hours. It’s water- and impact-resistant, so there’s no need to treat it with kid gloves. Just clip the carabiner handle to your pack and go. It can also be used as a power source for your phone or tablet.

Get it: Amazon

11. VASQUE BREEZE III GTX BOOT; $180

What kind of hiking boot you want will depend a lot on the type of trip you’re taking and the specific contours of your foot, but for all-around outdoor footwear, you could do worse than Vasque’s Breeze boots. The latest version is lighter, with better traction than its predecessors. It’s got great grip on rocky terrain, keeps your feet cool with mesh panels, and features a nice cushion that you’ll appreciate after hours on your feet. It comes in men’s and women’s sizes.

Get it: Amazon

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

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This $180 Hanger Will Deodorize Your Clothes
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Panasonic

Panasonic is looking to replace your dry cleaner with a high-tech hanger. According to Engadget, the company plans to release a clothes hanger that can deodorize outfits while they hang.

Think of it as part laundry method, part allergy prevention plan. The Nanoi X hanger has eight vents that emit a deodorizing vapor to cut down on both smells and pollen in clothes. Used inside a suit bag, it can effectively neutralize cigarette smoke and other strong odors, according to Panasonic.

The Nanoi X works using Panasonic’s “nanoe” particles, charged water particles designed to improve air quality. Essentially, the technology takes moisture from the air and applies an electric voltage. These particles can suppress viruses and bacteria, the company has found.

A diagram shows where the nanoparticles come out of the hanger.
Panasonic

It seems like a useful gadget for delicate, dry-clean-only clothing—as long as you don’t need to remove any stains or spills (which would require actually cleaning, not just deodorizing). You do, however, have to hang it up near a power outlet, so it might not work in your closet. It takes five hours to work (or seven hours on the heavy-cleaning setting), so it’s not a quick job. If you wake up in the middle of the night and realize you have to wear your smelly blazer before the dry cleaner opens, though, it might be worth it.

It will be released in Japan in September and, according to Kaden Watch, will cost about $180 (¥20,000). Surely Americans hate to do laundry enough to make this profitable in the U.S., too?

[h/t Engadget]

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