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imleean

20 Beautiful and Strange Bicycle Designs

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imleean

It’s spring, and you should go outside. Why not go for a bike ride and turn some heads?

1. 90 degrees

Courtesy of guestblogme

Most bike frames are so triangular. Why is that?

2. Everybody, stand up

Courtesy of Dreamslide

Haven’t you heard sitting down is bad for you?

3. All hands

Courtesy of Lasher Sport

This sporty handcycle is operated without legs.

4. Tandem for tots

Courtesy of Belize Bike

If you’re going to buy a tandem, why not buy a tandem tricycle?

5. They see me rollin'

Courtesy of Boutique Cycles

Lowriders are hot whether they’re cars or bikes.

6. Lace up

Courtesy of guestblogme

Should we bike, or should we walk? How about both?

7. Run!

Courtesy of Design Boom

Or maybe we should run.

8. It's like the gym

Courtesy of Elliptigo

Now you can ride an elliptical machine to the grocery store. (Ellipticals do lessen pressure on the joints.)

9. A four wheeler

Courtesy of Quadracycle

If a quadricycle was good enough for Henry Ford, it should be good enough for you.

10. Blend with the chopper gang

Courtesy of Boot Hill Choppers

Bicycles that look like choppers are a thing, apparently.

11. Driven By Baby

Courtesy of Taga Bikes

Instead of a bike with a kid seat attached, this is a kid seat with a bike attached.

12. Don't get a splinter

Courtesy of CNET

Wood bikes are pretty.

13. Bamboo Built

Courtesy of Bamboo Cycles

Bamboo is so sustainable.

14. Smooth transition

Courtesy of Yike Bike

This folding electric bike is like a Segway you can sit on.

15. Fold it, twist it, bend it

Courtesy of Long Beachize

This bike was made for Gumby.

16. Plug it in

Courtesy of Coroflot

A bike with a docking station for your laptop. Really.

17. Shop around

Courtesy of Coroflot

Bike + shopping cart in one.

18. Ride Sidesaddle

Courtesy of Sideways Bike

Snowboarders, skateboarders and crabs might appreciate this sideways bike.

19. Face down

Courtesy of Tuvie

This is like a recumbent bike, only you’re lying face down.

20. Das Auto-bike

Courtesy of imleean

So Volkswagen is making bikes now?

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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May 23, 2017
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