Featured Innovator: Linda Bauer Darr is Transforming Transportation

Linda Bauer Darr

Photo Source -NVLConvention

“We want the organization to be more inclusive and supportive of small railroads, develop a strong safety product and be recognized by Class Is as an essential part of their networks.” – Linda Bauer Darr

Transportation is a topic that’s of utmost importance to us at WVCO, with many of our divisions are focused towards public and automobile transportation. We do our part to push for innovation and safety in those sectors, and her 25+ year career, Linda Bauer Darr too is working to do the same. She has lead associations and companies in many of transportations biggest sectors and has brought positive and real change to them. If you’re planning on taking part in the AREMA 2016 Expo, you’ll have the opportunity to hear her speak on the subject.

From 1989 to 1998, Linda Bauer Darr acted as Vice President for the American Trucking Association, a far cry from her once vocation of choice, criminal law. “The trucking industry was opening up and going more international. I was 26 years old and meeting with ambassadors and senators,” says Darr. Her international experience would only grow from there as she made the transition to the U.S. Department of Transportation, adopting the role of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budgets and Programs. In her role she oversaw a department-wide process reform for the review of large-scale transportation projects and lead the development of a $60 billion dollar annual budget to go towards rail, highway, Coast Guard, and aviation funding. “Here I am in my early 30s and meeting with the Coast Guard commandant talking about eliminating part of his budget,” said Darr.

ABA

Her role in the transportation industry didn’t end there. From 2001 to 2007, Linda Bauer Darr took on the Executive Director and Senior Vice President of Policy & Communications at the American Bus Association. As executive director, she directed the day-to-day activities of the ABA Foundation (the research and education sector), created grant programs for rural buses firms, and lead initiatives that resulted in a multi-million dollar infusion into the industry. The next step in her illustrious career took Darr to the American Moving & Storage Association, where she acted as President & CEO from 2007 to 2014 and lead the AMSA through a transformative period. Her Industry Certification initiative removed hundreds of problematic AMSA members, an initially daunting proposition that resulted in short term due loss but long term gains.

These days, Darr is the president of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, the first woman to ever to fill the role in its 102 year history. She’s already brought progress in the form of the Short Line Safety Institute, a non-profit corporation that promotes safety, training, and research for short line and regional rail roads.  “Safety is a critical focus,” says Darr. “We need to help create a culture in this diverse industry, and a level of understanding and compliance.” Though she’s only been president since 2014, it’s clear that under her tenure the association will be moving towards greater efficiency, training, and overall security.

It is a difficult task to briefly sum up the crucial role Linda Bauer Darr has played in the transportation industry throughout her professional career; she has pushed for safety initiatives, championed researched and awareness, brought funding to industries that were previously struggling, and embraced forward thinking processes no matter how daunting they may seem in comparison to the status quo. For these reasons and many, more we have named Linda Bauer Darr our “Featured Innovator of the Month.” We hope you’ll enjoy her lecture at AREMA 2016.

Note: Linda Bauer Darr does not work for Willamette Valley Company nor is she affiliated with our company.

Sources:

Progressive Railroading

AREMA

Short Line Safety Institute

How One Man Is Helping Develop China’s High Speed Railway

ZhaiWanming

Photo Source – South Jiaotong University

“China is developing its high-speed train technology fast enough to catch up with the best by, among other things, funding research teams to develop advanced monitoring and early warning systems, and quake-resistant technology to ensure the safety of high-speed railways. Even in environmental protection, China has gained enough experience while building the railway that connects Lhasa, Tibet with Qinghai province.” – Professor Zhai Wanming

If you’re attending this year’s ASCE International Conference on Transportation and Development, you will have the opportunity to listen to a lecture presented by Professor Zhai Wanming on the Technology Challenges in Rapid Development of High-Speed Railways in China.

Professor Zhai Wanming is a railway engineering dynamics specialist who fills the roles of chairman of Academic Committee of Southwest Jiaotong University, director of the Train and Track Research Institute, elected member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Rail Transportation. With all that in mind, it should be safe to say that he has played a fundamental role in the development of safety protocols and frameworks for China’s high-speed rail system and abroad.

HighSpeedTrain

One of China’s High-Speed Trains. Photo Source ChinaDaily.com

To understand the importance of Zhai’s work, one should also understand the necessity of the High-Speed rail in China. To date, it is the world’s longest high-speed rail network and the most heavily used in the world, with over 2.5 million passengers a day. In 2011, a devastating crash between two high-speed trains in Wenzhou, as well as some political circumstances, prompted a greater focus on safety and a reexamining of current systems. It is through the work of experts like Professor Wanming that the rails have been tested and secured for considerable use.

Professor Wanming’s endeavors include developing a method for analyzing and assessing the safety of high speed trains passing through bridges and the development of a vehicle-track coupled dynamics framework, used throughout the country. As China expands their high-speed rail system, Zhai Wanming’s processes have been used in over 20 large-scale field engineering projects to date. His work also extends to over 160 papers he has published on the subject and such books as “Vehicle-Track Coupling Dynamics” and “Advances in Environmental Vibration.”

Zhai has won the first-class prize of Science and Technology Progress Awards by the Ministry of Education in 2003 and the first-class prize of National Award for Science and Technology Progress by State Department in 2005. He received the achievement prize of Zhan Tianyou Railway Science and Technology Award in 2003, as well as several honors including the National Expert with Outstanding Contribution in 1994 and the Award of Chinese Youth Scientist in 2006. Lastly, he was named Chang Jiang Professor by the Ministry of Education (the highest honor issued to an individual in higher education by the Ministry of Education).

Over the course of several decades, Zhai Wanming has brought considerable advances to railway engineering and safety both in China and the world over through his frameworks, systems, and publications. It is this unwavering drive to improve the way we handle railway transportation systems that has made Zhai Wanming our “Featured Innovator of the Month.” We hope you all get the chance to hear him speak at International Conference on Transportation and Development, it will not be one to miss!

Note: Zhai Wanming does not work for Willamette Valley Company nor is he affiliated with our company.

Sources:

ASCE International Conference on Transport and Development

China Daily

International Conference on Frontiers of Design and Manufacturing

New York Times

Could a Robot Learn By Itself?

Ashutosh Saxena

Photo Source Cornell Engineering

“We now live in a world where robots are helping humans in their daily lives, and just like humans, robots need to learn new skills in order to do their jobs successfully. And we shouldn’t expect a robot to learn on its own from scratch, any more than we’d expect a human to do so—imagine a child growing up with no access to textbooks, libraries, or the Internet.” – Ashutosh Saxena

What if robots could learn to carry out tasks autonomously? In other words, when giving a robot a new task it could “figure out” on it’s own how to do it? This is exactly the question that Ashutosh Saxena is working to answer.

Professor Saxena is a roboticist at Cornell University working to develop a massive online search engine that robots could access and find the required knowledge to carry out tasks, the aptly named RoboBrain. When given a question, RoboBrain will search the internet for relevant knowledge databases and images, sidestepping the need to teach robots to do tasks through step by step instructions.

“In 2014, I started a project called RoboBrain at Cornell University along with PhD students Ashesh Jain and Ozan Sener. We now have collaborators at Stanford and Brown. What we’re working on is a way of sharing information that allows robots to gather whatever knowledge they need for a task,” writes Saxena. “If one robot learns, then the knowledge is propagated to all the robots. RoboBrain achieves this by gathering the knowledge from a variety of sources. The system stores multiple kinds of information, including symbols, natural language, visual or shape features, haptic properties, and motions.”

The implications of such a project, if successful, could be enormous. It would lead to an increase in efficiency and reduce downtime and spending spent in “training” robots how to carry out tasks. RoboBrain could also lead to robots with more capacity to carry out objectives than previously intended.

Saxena’s work has garnered him several awards and recognition, including Eight Innovators to Watch in 2015, Smithsonian Institution; World Technology Award, 2015; The 50-years of Shakey at AAAI-RSS Blue Sky Ideas award, 2015; RSS Early Career Award, 2014; NSF Career award, 2013; Microsoft Faculty Fellow, 2012; Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, 2011; Best Cognitive Robotics paper, IROS’14. Best student paper, RSS’13; CUAir at AUVSI’12: First prize, mission performance; Google Faculty Research Award, 2012.

These breakthroughs in robotic learning coupled with the unparalleled potential of a developed RoboBrain is what makes Ashush Saxena our pick for “Featured Innovator of the Month.”

Note: Ashush Saxena does not work for Willamette Valley Company nor is he affiliated with our company.

Sources:

Stanford University

Rethink Robotics Youtube

MIT Technology Review

Smithsonian

Self-Healing Concrete May Not Just Be For Sci-Fi

Henk-Jonkers

Professor Henk Jonkers at work. Photo Source: Newscientist.nl

“The problem with cracks in concrete is leakage. If you have cracks, water comes through — in your basements, in a parking garage. Secondly, if this water gets to the steel reinforcements — in concrete we have all these steel rebars — if they corrode, the structure collapses.” – Professor Henk Jonkers, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands.

Concrete repair products is a subject we know a lot about!  We’ve seen first hand the problems that slow-building cracks can create. But what if damaged concrete could heal itself? That’s exactly what Professor Henk Jonkers is working towards with his work into bioconcrete — concrete that heals itself using bacteria.

Jonkers was inspired by the human body in his work, which works by adding a limestone-producing bacteria agent to the concrete mix. As air is let in through cracks and damage to the concrete, the bacteria is activated and begins producing limestone and patching out the cracks.”You need bacteria that can survive the harsh environment of concrete. It’s a rock-like, stone-like material, very dry,” says Professor Jonkers.

This process could play a pivotal role during construction, when small imperceptible cracks form as concrete is laid. By self-patching immediately, this bioconcrete could prevent long term damage. You can see some of the self-healing concrete at work below.

To date, bioconcrete has only been able to heal cracks up to a very slim 0.8 mm wide in about three weeks, but it can also be sprayed in cracks of regular concrete to use its mending powers. It will certainly be interesting to hear what the future holds for bioconcrete, and if its European Inventor Award finalist nomination is any indication, we’ll be hearing much more soon!

It’s this ingenuity and forward-thinking approach to finding new unexplored solutions to potentially long-term and expensive problems why we have named Professor Henk Jonkers our “Featured Innovator of the Month.” We look forward to hearing more of his work in bioconcrete in the future!

Note: Henk Jonkers does not work for Willamette Valley Company nor is he affiliated with our company.

Sources:

CNN 

TUDelft

XPrize

Spotlight on Carolina Osorio, an Innovator We Admire

CarolinaOsorio

Photo Source InnovatorsUnder35.com

Willamette Valley Company was founded on the principal that innovation is truly at its best when it makes our lives better. Sometimes that takes on the form of advancements in the field of medicine or robotics, other times it means making our daily lives more efficient and allowing more time for what is important.

It is this reason that our “Featured Innovator of the Month” is Carolina Osorio, an assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT, who wants to help solve the world’s growing traffic problem.

Traffic Jam

An all too familiar sight for anyone living in the city.

As anyone who has spent any time commuting in a city can attest, gridlocks and traffic jams can waste a large percentage of your day and turn a 20 minute drive into several hours. But did you know this problem could be solved with an algorithm and software? That’s exactly what Ms. Osorio is working to do, an endeavor that is built on her study into the traffic patterns of Lausanne, Switzerland.

She says the problem with most existing traffic light software is that it typically looks at the traffic system as a whole as opposed to a collection of individual drivers. “Most signal-timing software looks at current or historical traffic patterns. It doesn’t take into account how travel might change,”says Osorio. “Usually in practice, when you want to time traffic lights, traditionally it’s been done in a local way. You define one intersection, or maybe a set of intersections along an arterial, and you fine-tune or optimize the traffic lights there.”

This is where Osorio’s software promises to shine.  “What is less done, and is more difficult to do, is when you look at a broader scale, in this case the city of Lausanne, and you want to change signal times at intersections distributed across the entire city, with the objective of trying to improve conditions across the entire city.”

In their applied simulations of this new approach to traffic timing, Carolina Osorio and her team found a decrease in commuting time of 22% compared to standardly-used traffic software. Though Ms. Osorio’s system is not yet implemented in traffic software, one can easily see how it can positively influence cities in the future.

Carolina Osorio has received several honors and accolades for her work, including MIT Technology Review EmTech Colombia TR35 Award (2015), MIT CEE Maseeh Excellence in Teaching Award (2014), National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award (NSF CAREER) (2014), NEC Corporation Fund Award for Research in Computers and Communications MIT (2014-2015), and the National Science Foundation Award, (2013-2016). Furthermore she has been an invited Speaker on “The Road to Future Urban Mobility” at the 2016 National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) EU-US Frontiers of Engineering (EU-US FOE) Symposium.

This dedication to finding solutions to the very real problems that hinder society’s efficiency and mobility is why we have named Carolina Osorio as our “Featured Innovator of the Month.” We can’t wait to see what she’ll accomplish in the future!

Note: Carolina Osorio does not work for Willamette Valley Company nor is she affiliated with our company.

Sources:

MIT – Traffic Lights: There’s a Better Way

Smithsonian Mag – Better Traffic-Light Timing Will Get You There Faster

MIT Innovators Under 35 – Carolina Osorio

 

photo credit: World Class Traffic Jam: Jersey Turnpike Version via photopin (license)

 

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act or “FAST Act” is Signed Into Law

FASTAct2America has always been a nation on the move. But an aging and crumbling transportation system is not only slowing Americans down, it’s reducing productivity, undermining our ability to move products across the country and around the world, and increasing congestion and air pollution. It’s time to get America moving again! – U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Last month, the first law providing long-term funding certainty for surface transportation in over a decade was signed into law. The implementation of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or “FAST Act” States means that local governments should be able to move forward with critical transportation projects, like new highways and transit lines, more easily. “After hundreds of Congressional meetings, two bus tours, visits to 43 states, and so much uncertainty – and 36 short term extensions – it has been a long and bumpy ride to a long-term transportation bill,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx. “It’s not perfect, and there is still more left to do, but it reflects a bipartisan compromise I always knew was possible.”

The deteriorating condition of America’s roads, bridges and rail lines have been an area for concern for some time.  According to US Department of Transportation, sixty five percent of America’s major roads are rated “less than good” condition, while one in four bridges require significant repair or cannot handle today’s traffic and 45 percent of Americans do not have access to transit.

The FAST Act is considered by many to be a good start, as it increases funding by 11 percent over five years. “This is far short of the amount needed to reduce congestion on our roads and meet the increasing demands on our transportation systems,” states the U.S. Department of Transportation. “In comparison, the Administration’s proposal, the GROW AMERICA Act, increases funding by 45 percent”.

The law also makes changes and reforms to many Federal transportation programs, including streamlining the approval processes for new transportation projects, providing new safety tools, and establishing new programs to advance critical freight projects.

For a more detailed summary of some FAST Act provisions, visit www.transportation.gov/fastact.

 

Civil Engineers- The Unsung Heroes of Modern Society

“So why is it that although world has some famous architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van de Rohe, Frank Gehry or Zaha Hadid just to name a few, (it) doesn’t have famous traffic engineers?”

Notable Civil Engineers Highway EngineersBrooklyn Bridge In the spirit of innovation, we have started featuring star innovators on our blog each month- people who embody the ideals of innovation in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields. This month, our intention was to feature a prominent Civil Engineer who has made an impact in our daily lives and in public places. What we found is there are countless people who have contributed to the field of civil engineering and deserve accolades, but rarely hear of them.

Though the field of civil engineering has been around for centuries, we know very little about the people who have paved the way (literally in some cases) for us to enjoy the many amenities our modern society has to offer- clean water, railroads, roads, sidewalks, buildings, sewage systems, dams, bridges or airports and so much more.

An Australian Transportation blogger writes in this post,

“So why is it that although world has some famous architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van de Rohe, Frank Gehry or Zaha Hadid just to name a few, doesn’t have famous traffic engineers? Why do we have famous economists like Adam Smith, Karl Marx. John Keynes or Milton Friedman and we don’t know of any transport planners? And if for doctors it is quite reasonable to know so many because of all these diseases named after them why is it that we don’t know who designed the first tram system? Or the inventor of Bus Rapid Transit? Why the bridges aren’t named after their designer?”

It’s hard to imagine our lives without civil engineers.  These unsung heroes are responsible for the design and maintenance of both the small and enormous infrastructure projects all over the world.

Here is our list of notable engineers we’d like to highlight (not listed in any particular order) that are considered by many to be leaders in the field of civil engineering and transportation planning. Who would you add to this list? 

Emily Warren Roebling (1843 –1903)

Known as the “first woman field engineer” and saw out the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge.

John Smeaton – (1724 – 1792)

First self proclaimed civil engineer. He is often called the Father of Civil Engineering. His work on waterwheels and windmills contributed to the efficiency of the industrial revolution.

Archie Alphonso Alexander (1888 – 1958)

Prominent transportation engineer recognized for his work on bridges, buildings and utilities. First African American to graduate from the University of Iowa’s College of Engineering.

Benjamin Wright – (1770 – 1842)

The American Society of Civil Engineers declared Benjamin Wright the Father of American Civil Engineering. He was the Chief Engineer during the construction of the Erie Canal and many more notable infrastructure products in the United States.

William Hunter Dammond (1873-1956)

Invented the rail road switching mechanism which enabled trains to change direction. He is also the First African American Graduate from the University of Pittsburgh with a Degree in Civil Engineering.

Squire Whipple – (1804 – 1888)

Designed and built a weigh lock scale to weigh canal boats on the Erie Canal. He also designed and built seven short span iron bridges for the New York and Erie Railroad near Newburgh and Binghamton, New York. Whipple also built the first long span trapezoidal railroad bridges for the New York Railroads.

Elsie Eaves- (1898 – 1983)

The first female associate member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and a founding member of the American Association of Cost Engineers (now AACE International; the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering)

Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806 – 1859)

Designed tunnels, railway lines, ships and bridges. He is most famous for the network of tunnels, bridges and viaducts he designed for the Great Western Railway. His design methods are still used today in high-speed trains.

Walter Taylor (1872–1955)

Australian visionary and builder of many Brisbane landmarks. His most notable works are the Walter Taylor Bridge and the Graceville Methodist church, both of which are heritage-listed buildings.

Dr. John “Job” Crew Bradfield- (1867-1943)

Prominent Australian engineer who designed and oversaw the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. He was also appointed Chief Engineer for the metropolitan railway construction in New South Wales.

Olive Dennis- (1885-1957)

The second woman to obtain a Civil Engineering degree from Cornell. She was hired that year as a draftsman by the B & O Railroad to design bridges, eventually changed the nature of railway travel.

Duff A. Abrams- (1880 – 1965)

A researcher in the area of organization and properties of concrete, he was responsible for coming up with the necessary methods for testing concrete characteristics that we still use. President of the American Concrete Association for a year, he discovered the concept of fineness modulus and the definition of water-cement ratio.

Charles Duke

a structural engineer and architect, made distinguished contributions to the development of churches and railroads. irst African American to earn a Master of Science degree in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin in 1913.

Nora Stanton Blatch Barney- (1883 – 1971)

Famous American civil engineer and architect, the first woman to earn a degree in any type of engineering in the United States; her degree was in civil engineering. In the same year, she was accepted as a junior member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)

Henry Randall Grooms (1944-n/a)

Served on the DC Highway Department as a highway engineer and on the engineering team at Rockwell International where he was awarded Engineer of the Year Award the company’s space division in 1980.

Othmar Hermann Ammann- (1879 – 1965)

A Swiss-born American structural engineer, he designed the Bayonne Bridge, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and the famous George Washington Bridge. He also designed more than half of the 11 bridges that attach New York City to the rest of the country. As well as his work on bridges, he planned the construction and directed the building of the Lincoln Tunnel.

We urge to continue to learn about these famous civil engineers and what their inventions have brought to the world by visiting the following resources-
www.facebook.com/notes/structural-engineering-forum-of-india
science.howstuffworks.com/engineering
www.wikiengineer.com/Transportation
www.thefamouspeople.com/civil-engineers
www.i-studentglobal.com/civil-engineering
mobilitymanagementaustralia.blogspot.com.au

photo credit: kumiyama00 via photopin (license)
photo credit: Highway via photopin (license)
photo credit: New York City – Brooklyn Bridge via photopin (license)

The Challenges of Funding our Growing Transportation Needs

Highways and Bridges

Grow America

Transportation is critical to economic growth, however, economic growth is critical to fund the ever changing needs of our transportation system. One cannot exist without the other. The imminent threat of Highway Trust Fund insolvency combined with this paradox is the root of intense debate and discussion in Washington, DC and among key players in the transportation industry.

According to US Department of Transportation, sixty five percent of America’s major roads are rated “less than good” condition, while one in four bridges require significant repair or cannot handle today’s traffic and 45 percent of Americans do not have access to transit.

One of the proposed solutions to this challenge is The GROW AMERICA Act, a six-year bill that would increase investment for our nation’s highways, bridges, transit, and rail systems by 45%. The proposal is funded by supplementing current revenues from the Highway Trust Fund in combination with a 14 percent transition tax on an estimated $2 trillion of untaxed foreign earnings that U.S. Companies have accumulated overseas.

Critical investments are needed to help communities keep pace with our expanding economy, our growing population, and the traveling needs of the public. This animated video explains the key features of the GROW AMERICA Act and why we need to move forward on a long-term surface transportation bill.

How would you address the funding challenges in our transportation infrastructure?

For more information on this proposed bill and other transportation topics, please visit www.transportation.gov.

photo credit: 2008 06 09 – 3057 – Baltimore – I-895 at Moravia Rd via photopin (license)

WVCO Featured Innovator of the Month: MIT Professor Julie Shah

Julie Shaw

Image Courtesy of MIT Industrial Liaison Program

“Imagine if robots could be truly collaborative partners, able to anticipate and adapt to the needs of their human teammates. Such robots could greatly extend productivity. That possibility is really exciting to me.” -Julie Shah

Willamette Valley Company was built on the principle of innovation. Throughout the years, our team of forward thinking innovators has produced a range of game changing solutions within  our divisions like PRE-TEC, Willamette Valley Company Railroad Division, POLYQuik Performance Products, and WVCO Wood Products.

This month, our featured innovator is Julie Shah, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and head of the Interactive Robotics Group at MIT.

The Interactive Robotics Group is a robotics research lab committed to developing robots that work in tandem with humans to accomplish what neither can do alone. She is best known for her team’s innovative methods of enabling human-robot collaboration, i.e. Creating robots who can function as colleagues for humans in fields such as disaster response, manufacturing, surgery and space exploration.

“Human interaction isn’t part of the traditional curriculum for training roboticists,” she says in this MIT Technology Review profile. “Our field is always pushing to make our systems more autonomous, and have richer capabilities and intelligence, but in that push we tend to look past the fact that these systems are, and always will be, working in human contexts”.

Here she is describing her work in the robotics field in her own words

Ms. Shah has received international recognition for her work in the robotics field, including an NSF CAREER award in 2014 and in the MIT Technology Review 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2013. She has also been named by MIT Technology Review as one of the world’s top innovators under the age of 35.

Her dedication to creating a more collaborative relationship between humans and robots to achieve greater good makes her our pick for our “Innovator of the Month”.

Sourced By:
This MIT engineering professor is turning robots into ideal colleagues for humans.

interactive.mit.edu

Machines Like Us: Robots and Drones at Work

Featured Innovators of the Month: Greg & Jill Henderson

Hoverboard

Courtesy of Arx Pax

“Just like anything else, a successful result starts with a working prototype and continues to evolve as more resources are brought to bear on design optimization and technology advancements” – Greg & Jill Henderson

Willamette Valley Company values innovation. We admire the many individuals who are working to put their ideas into action with the goal of raising the bar and making our world a better, more sustainable place. Our innovator spotlight this month is on Greg & Jill Henderson, co-founders of Arx Pax, the company behind the development of the Hendo Hoverboard.

Remember the iconic scene when Marty McFly zips through town on a levitating skateboard in the 80’s film “Back to the Future 2” (which happens to take place in the year 2015)? That could soon be a reality.

Hendo Hover

Photo source: Hendo Hover Facebook Page

The Hendo Hoverboard is described by Arx Pax as a stable, self-propelled, levitation platform with no external power source. The key principle behind this technology is Magnetic Field Architecture (MFA™), Henderson’s term for what others may call magnetic levitation, or maglev. Maglev is already transforming the rail industry in some Asian countries by powering “super trains”. These trains have the ability to travel at extreme high speeds because there is no friction between the train’s wheels and axles and the rails.

Unlike a train, the Hendo Hoverboard doesn’t follow a track. Rather, it hovers freely over a special surface plated in copper which acts as an inductor that allows an electric current to flow through it resulting in a magnetic field. “The magic behind the hoverboard lies in its four disc-shaped hover engines,” the company says. “These create a special magnetic field which literally pushes against itself, generating the lift which levitates our board off the ground.”

Click here for a more detailed explanation of the science behind this device.

Want to see it in action? Watch skateboarding champ Tony Hawk try it out during a recent visit to the Arx Pax labs in Los Gatos, California.

Though there are limitations, the Hendersons are hopeful the Hendo Hoverboard will serve as a starting point for future innovators to develop the technology and ultimately serve the larger goals of sustainability and safety. “We’re trying to inspire co-creation across the globe, and we’re getting some fantastic responses. The ideas that people have already come up with for the company’s hovering Whitebox (a scaled-back form of the hovering engine) are “amazing” and “exciting,” Greg says in a recent post.

To learn more about the Hendersons, Arx Pax and their inventions, visit these helpful resources.

www.wired.com
archinect.com
www.americanantigravity.com
www.arxpax.com
hendohover.com