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DARPA Develops Stealth Motorcycle For US Special Forces

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the hard-to-sneak-with-a-harley dept.

The Military 93

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "Allen McDuffee reports that DARPA is developing a hybrid-powered motorcycle to soundlessly penetrate remote areas and execute complex, lightning-fast raids. The idea is to develop a hybrid power system that relies on both electric and gas power, allowing special ops to go off-road and zip past enemy forces with the silence of an electric engine, while also being able to handle extended missions and higher speeds with a supplemental gas tank. Logos Technologies plans to fit its quieted, multifuel hybrid-electric power system with an all-electric bike from San Francisco-based manufacturer BRD Motorcycles that uses an existing racing bike, the RedShift MX, a 250-pound all-electric moto that retails for $15,000. The RedShift MX has a two-hour range, but will be extended with a gas tank the size of which will be determined by the military in the research period. The focus on the electric element suggests that DARPA is more concerned with the stealthiness of the motorcycle than it is efficiency."

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Frost Muks post! (5, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 6 months ago | (#46847005)

Elon Musk already has one that goes twice as fast for ten times the distance and it's invisible too. He's just waiting for the right time to announce it so people don't think he's a publicity seeking twat.

Re:Frost Muks post! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847015)

Next year Apple will produce one with rounded corners. The year after Apple fans will be telling everyone that Apple invented the motorbike. In year 3 Apple will sue Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha and demand their products are banned in the USA, the US courts will agree.

Re:Frost Muks post! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 6 months ago | (#46847049)

US Harley fans will suddenly find a common purpose with jap bike makers.

doubt it. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847465)

Harley fans are in their own little motorcycle World. They drive overpriced junk that is too loud - all because it says Harley Davidson on it.

Most of them are middle aged guys who imagine that one day, they can hop on their hog and leave it all behind and that deep down they are some badass.

Spend some time in Florida and you will see these old men with thousands of dollars of apparel on their backs, their Harleys, gray hair, pot bellys, and they strut around - well, some look like they are a year or so away from a walker.

Most of them worked during the heyday of US prosperity. They have a pension (read your history books about those), a house that appreciated tremendously and has no mortgage, plenty of savings (their incomes went a LOT farther back then, in real terms, they made more money for the same work) and of course, their precious Social Security - which is what pays for the Harley shit.

I'm surprised that Harley dealers don't have big signs on their doors that say, "We cash Social Security checks!"

Re:doubt it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847979)

All I heard is a lot if shrieking with a crescendo of "DON'T LIKE WHAT I DON'T LIKE!!!1oneone!"

Re:Frost Muks post! (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 6 months ago | (#46847763)

How can one call the Law Enforcement on biker gangs you can't hear, and that say, "Yes Sir", and "Yes Mam." It's just wrong.

Another American Icon that has been brushed aside.

Re:Frost Muks post! (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 6 months ago | (#46849259)

the year after that, Samsung will make a moped, then sell it with a multi-billion dollar ad campaign describing how a homeless person liked it more than an iCycle.

... and the bikes fly !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847233)

You forgot that the Musk Bikes are so light they practically FLY !

Read that title wrong... (1)

OctoiD (266384) | about 6 months ago | (#46847029)

"DARPA Developers Steal Motorcycle From US Special Forces" :)

Re:Read that title wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46849655)

And secretly fight crime during nights as the test pilots of the prototype motorcycle. On the streets. Like hawks. Crap, this post will be sued by Honda anytime now.

Been done (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847039)

been done [wikia.com] .

Re:Been done (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847181)

You ride that into a restricted area, see how well you do. We'll go to your funeral.

Re:Been done (1)

Agripa (139780) | about 6 months ago | (#46850581)

You ride that into a restricted area, see how well you do. We'll go to your funeral.

Or meet you back in time.

Somebody has been reading Snow Crash (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 6 months ago | (#46847047)

Does it come with a heads up display?

Re:Somebody has been reading Snow Crash (1)

bscott (460706) | about 6 months ago | (#46847123)

Snow Crash? I think you mean "Freedom, Inc"...

it will still make noise (1)

FudRucker (866063) | about 6 months ago | (#46847053)

the sound of the tires rolling on the ground, the sound of the chain & sprockets, the electric motor will have a little noise too,

at least it wont sound like these fags: http://www.southparkstudios.co... [southparkstudios.com]

Re:it will still make noise (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 6 months ago | (#46847065)

It might have a hub mounted electric motor. Some motorised bicycles use those.

Re:it will still make noise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847439)

Or shaft driven ....

Or they came up with something that no one has thought of before.

Re: it will still make noise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847121)

Most existing electric bikes are belt drive anyway...

Re:it will still make noise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847125)

So, you don't like electric vehicles, fine.
But for DARPA and the rest of the world that have heard the difference of an EV and a regular car you look like a retard with an agenda.

For those who need a reference. Consider a regular bike. It has tires rolling on the ground, a chain and sprockets.
This bike will be slightly louder since it is heavier but we are still talking about a sound level that is insignificant.

Re:it will still make noise (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 6 months ago | (#46847149)

One morning on my road bike, cycling on a suburban road. Tram tracks to my right, parked cars to my left, going about 50km/h. This woman was hanging out on the road ahead of me, Not really paying attention. I got to within about three metres and I swear I heard her inhale as she saw me in her peripheral vision and jumped back out of my path.

Re:it will still make noise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847165)

One morning on my road bike, cycling on a suburban road. Tram tracks to my right, parked cars to my left, going about 50km/h. This woman was hanging out on the road ahead of me, Not really paying attention. I got to within about three metres and I swear I heard her inhale as she saw me in her peripheral vision and jumped back out of my path.

Absolutely. Pedals FTW when it comes to true stealth.

Fortunately for SF, they only make SEALs pedal into their missions.

Re:it will still make noise (5, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | about 6 months ago | (#46847163)

I ride down a hill every day coming home from work. I pull the clutch and coast out of gear. I've passed within 10 feet of pedestrians before they notice me. ~35 mph, no noticable chain noise. The loudest thing to me is the wind noise, but I'm on it, so I don't expect that I'm hearing what a pedestrian would hear.

The tire noise is elevated when cornering (smooth tread when upright, deepening tread when leaned over, close to silent going straight, but I can hear it when I lean into a corner). And yes, the idling engine is still one of the noisiest parts of the bike. The only time I hear the chain is when it's long overdue for an adjustment. A chain, in practice, is as quiet as a shaft or belt. Not like a bicycle.

Based on your comments, I presume you ride a bicycle and are guessing. Well, that and you don't maintain your own bike (because you are incompetent/lazy), and aren't very good at riding it. When I was riding 100+ miles a week, I maintained my own bicycle, and I'd adjust the chain/shifters daily. There was not much noise from the chain. That only happens with cheap chains, worn gears, and poor shifters. And that points to a lazy and ignorant owner.

Re:it will still make noise (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 6 months ago | (#46849841)

I pull the clutch and coast out of gear.

This from the guy who claims to be an advanced driver because he tries to heel and toe an automatic going at 7 mph in city traffic.

Do you still mindlessly copy the vehicle in front, even if it runs a red?

Re:it will still make noise (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 6 months ago | (#46850093)

This from the guy who claims to be an advanced driver because he tries to heel and toe an automatic going at 7 mph in city traffic.

You are lying.

Do you still mindlessly copy the vehicle in front, even if it runs a red?

"Still"? Do you "still" beat your wife? You are begging the question. You are stating a question in a manner that presumes I mindlessly copy someone. Another lie. Your question is invalid.

Why are you lying in a manner designed to incite or discredit? Are you really so pissed about some thread where you posted stupid stuff about driving, and I pointed it out? (yes, that's presumption, I have no idea which idiots I was correcting repeatedly, or how many cites I gave to heel-toe indicating it was a manual-only thing). If you had actually read anything I said, you'd note that I consistently stated that "heel-toe" implies manual only, as anyone with two feet would never need to heel-toe in an auto, as there are only two pedals, and both are usable at the same time by different feet.

Noise Cancelling Devices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847243)

They do have the "black helicopters" that fly almost soundless, by using noise cancelling devices, essentially loudspeakers that emit sounds that cancel out the rotor / engine noise.

They could do that for the bikes as well. Plus, I doubt they will use "chain" on these bikes.

Re:Noise Cancelling Devices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46851953)

They do have the "black helicopters" that fly almost soundless, by using noise cancelling devices, essentially loudspeakers that emit sounds that cancel out the rotor / engine noise.

They could do that for the bikes as well. Plus, I doubt they will use "chain" on these bikes.

You haven't studied physics have you. Based on what us mere mortals know about such classified technology, stealth helicopters make less noise by having more propeller blades. The laws of physics are, however, not classified and evidently you're unfamiliar with them. Noise canceling loudspeakers like that are impossible. They would have to be placed in the area surrounding any enemies listening and preferably the space enclosed to make the sound waves cancel each other :)

Re:it will still make noise (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 6 months ago | (#46848277)

Can't the tire sounds be compensated for by using wide, low pressure tires? Surely they won't as energy-efficient, but if stealthiness is the key...

Re:it will still make noise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46957923)

K. S. Kyosuke: You've been called out (for tossing names) & you ran "forrest" from a fair challenge http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

Efficiency (4, Interesting)

GrahamCox (741991) | about 6 months ago | (#46847061)

The focus on the electric element suggests that DARPA is more concerned with the stealthiness of the motorcycle than it is efficiency

Wha? Electric motors are way more efficient than IC engines (90%+ vs. 25%), so having an electric drive makes this more efficient. Stealthiness also follows from efficiency - sound is energy, so a lot of sound is an indication of an unnecessary waste of energy.

Re:Efficiency (2)

Tontoman (737489) | about 6 months ago | (#46847117)

Depends on how the domain is defined. Electricity comes from power plants and batteries, which have varying lower efficiency values. This motorcycle likely fills a niche requirement where fuel saving is not a large consideration.

Re:Efficiency (2)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 6 months ago | (#46847281)

A fixed RPM diesel is *significantly* more efficient than a car engine, on the whole. We're still not approaching the 90% that GP quotes as the efficiency for an electric, but it's enough of an improvement to still waste less energy despite the losses inherent in transmission lines.

The long-distance transmission of energy, incidentally, is where the real loss in the electrical grid comes into play. That's not really an issue when you're talking about hybrid drive vehicles. Still, I've wondered for years why car manufacturers don't design a pure electric car (plug-in), and fit it with a fixed RPM generator for extended range instead of trying to design a hugely convoluted hybrid drive train that can receive power from both. (and no, Top Gear doesn't count).

Re:Efficiency (2)

GrahamCox (741991) | about 6 months ago | (#46847553)

I've wondered for years why car manufacturers don't design a pure electric car (plug-in), and fit it with a fixed RPM generator for extended range instead of trying to design a hugely convoluted hybrid drive train that can receive power from both.

I agree, but it's slowly starting to dawn on them that this is an efficient approach (it's only been 50 years since the railways realised the same thing). Parallel hybrids like the Prius make me laugh - it's like they really don't know how to proceed with electric, they only know the traditional IC approach, so they bolt the motor on to that and solve the difficulties mechanically. Remarkably, it is nevertheless a reliable vehicle despite its complexity, but technically, it's a dead-end. Series hybrids work much better, and the range extender" part of the equation is now being tackled by some innovative IC designs that generate electricity directly without rotating motion - using diesel fuel at a fixed RPM should in theory realise up to double the overall efficiency compared with a typical petrol-powered car now, and the savings in weight improves that even further.

Re: Efficiency (1)

s122604 (1018036) | about 6 months ago | (#46847865)

Actually, over the years, automotive mechanical transmissions have gotten very very good. No, you are not going to match the efficient of a modern 6 or 7 speed transmission with a generator, a run of cable, and an electric motor.

electric motors are very very good at variable speeds and acceleration, but at a constant highway speed it makes no sense to turn mechanical energy into electrical energy, just to turn it right back into mechanical energy.

yes! that's how they do it in trains, but the automotive application is much simpler to manage in a purely mechanical! or mechanical/electrical hybrid setup.

A pure electric car with a small charger (1)

Marrow (195242) | about 6 months ago | (#46848143)

seems like the way to go. The car will have limited (single hop) range, but could recharge itself while parked. Since the engine is small and running just to drive a generator, it can be very light and efficient. Not big enough to push a car, but big enough to charge the batteries over several hours.

Re: Efficiency (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | about 6 months ago | (#46850625)

No, you are not going to match the efficient of a modern 6 or 7 speed transmission with a generator, a run of cable, and an electric motor.

I think it's arguable - it comes out really very close. It's not just the efficiency though, it's the dramatic weight saving. No heavy engine case, flywheel, clutch, gearbox, driveshaft, differential, even brakes - assuming the motors are part of the wheels, which seems to be the way to go. Don't worry about the unsprung weight, 100kW motors weighing only 20kg for this application have been made, they end up with less or equal unsprung weight than a traditional set-up. Weight-savings in the drive train allow further weight-saving in the overall chassis.

Transmitting the power around the vehicle in copper wires instead of mechanical shafts makes a lot of sense.

Hybrids, diesel and Prius (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46850495)

Modern car diesels are just under 40% efficient. The biggest diesel ship engines can just make 50% efficiency.
The current Prius petrol engine is 38.5% and the next model will be over 40%. Petrol engines are making good progress in efficiency, diesel engines less so.

You may laugh at the Prius but there's a 30% loss in mechanical -> electrical -> mechanical conversions, which is why the Prius will run directly from the IC when it makes sense to do so and load level the IC other times. Most of the complexity of a Prius is in the smarts, the mechanicals aren't terribly complex, the IC has no belts, no starter motor and the gearbox is a simple but rugged planetary gearset. "Don't do in hardware what can be done in software". Prius'sesses are reliable and get great fuel efficiency, can't laugh at those numbers.

Series hybrids are less petrol efficient at the wheels because there's always a double conversion of energy, but they can make savings if the battery is charged at home. Series, parallel, whatever, it's all steps towards no IC. Yay.

Re:Hybrids, diesel and Prius (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 6 months ago | (#46867125)

Modern car diesels are just under 40% efficient. The biggest diesel ship engines can just make 50% efficiency.
The current Prius petrol engine is 38.5% and the next model will be over 40%. Petrol engines are making good progress in efficiency, diesel engines less so.

A ship engine isn't a fixed RPM diesel generator, it's a variable RPM diesel engine.

What I was talking about, you need to be comparing against a diesel-oil power plant, which can exceed 70-80% efficiency. Still not as good as hydroelectric (which can exceed 95%), but aside from tidal and hydro power plants it's by far the most efficient method of generating energy that we have. It's also worth mentioning that a diesel engine can run on basically unmodified cooking oil (look up biodiesel). I sincerely doubt that your Prius would enjoy being fed that stuff.

Re:Hybrids, diesel and Prius (1)

Man Eating Duck (534479) | about 6 months ago | (#46885947)

A ship engine isn't a fixed RPM diesel generator, it's a variable RPM diesel engine.

I agree with the rest of your post, but ship's diesel motors used on transport ships are about as efficient as you can make an engine run. For the vast majority of their time, they run at the ideal fuel/output ratio you can get. This is not because of environmental concerns, but because it saves fuel (and money) to the companies running the ships. True, the engines are larger, but you could do worse than looking at what they do to find the most efficient ways to run a diesel engine :)

Re:Efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847137)

For someone who seems to know so much about the efficiency of an electric vs an IC engine, you don't seem to be very smart.

The efficiency they are worried about is its efficiency as an electric engine compared to other electric engine designs, IE, getting the most mileage possible for as light as possible a battery. Kind of like how some IC engine based cars try to be efficient by getting as much mileage as possible from a single tank of gas.

Alternatively, you feel so strongly that everyone should be using electric engines over IC ones, you're distorting the topic of conversation towards your more desired topic of conversation and consequently make yourself look like a somewhat irrational person who is always using every possible opportunity to proclaim their own opinion, while being terrible at listening to the opinion of others.

Re:Efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847389)

you're distorting the topic of conversation towards your more desired topic of conversation and consequently make yourself look like a somewhat irrational person who is always using every possible opportunity to proclaim their own opinion, while being terrible at listening to the opinion of others.

Hi, you must be new here. This is a thing called the "Internet", and that's how everyone writes on it.

They're starting up a MegaForce? (3, Funny)

skoskav (1551805) | about 6 months ago | (#46847073)

Add some mini rockets and machine guns, and you've created the MegaForce [youtube.com]

Re:They're starting up a MegaForce? (2)

ByteSlicer (735276) | about 6 months ago | (#46847183)

Add Chuck Norris and you've created The Delta Force [youtube.com] . As an added bonus, you only need one bike...

Re:They're starting up a MegaForce? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46849407)

Don't be INSANE.

The last thing we need in the world are more WMDs!

Also... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46861181)

We could do with less nutjobs calling themselves Christians predicting that Obama will bring about the end times. So the quicker Chuck fades to black the better for regular, non crazy Christians.

Re:They're starting up a MegaForce? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847599)

And.. for the extended cut of shlock: Mega Force! [youtube.com]

Re:They're starting up a MegaForce? (1)

tlambert (566799) | about 6 months ago | (#46847657)

The Delta MK 4 Megafighter was exactly my first thought as well... Only this video, instead... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

For extra geek-cred, MegaForce also starred Persis Khambatta, the actress who played V-GER in the first Star Trek movie...

Hm (1, Interesting)

marcello_dl (667940) | about 6 months ago | (#46847081)

Not very stealthy against a fishing line on the ground, anyway.

Re:Hm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847561)

Not very stealthy against a fishing line on the ground, anyway.

WALKING is not stealthy in the sort of environment you need to be high-stepping over potential wires.
When you need to run, or roll at 80 Mph, it is an expectation to be over that amount of detectability, thank you Captain Obvious.

ZOMG, we could just lay out fresh toilet paper on the ground to catch the NOT SO "stealthy" tire trails, and that will lead us to spec ops hideout!111 Mwahahahahahahahaaaaaa. Mwaahahahahahaha.

I second the MegaForce motion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847113)

Makes me wonder if some ones been watching MegaForce. Now if only they'd make that dune buggy with the friggin laser beam on it.

Re:I second the MegaForce motion (1)

CeasedCaring (1527717) | about 6 months ago | (#46847119)

You're claiming they haven't? O_o

Special forces (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about 6 months ago | (#46847185)

Imagining those guys doing a raid, and then popping wheelies on the way out.

tornadoes overdue? we know what that means? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847203)

we owe ourselves a bunch of tornadoes? we don't even need to ask... http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=weather+manipulation+WMD ... hymenless monkeys continue to out advance us in simple traits of compassion still failing to shoot each other & still sharing their bananas etc.... momkind new clear option best hope for most of us billions of unchosens... no bomb us more mom us,, & other exciting (r)evolutionary surprisings.. see you there

Re:tornadoes overdue? we know what that means? (1)

thewebsiteisdown (1397957) | about 6 months ago | (#46862197)

What the actual fuck? This person is mentally ill. Also, the person I am replying to.

Don't look at DARPA for the Prius of motorcycles (4, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 6 months ago | (#46847209)

A serial hybrid motorcycle could be very efficient. A simple 4 or 5 HP gas engine tuned for efficiency turning a generator to charge medium sized battery. A pure electric drive train, motor probably built into the hub of the rear wheel eliminating drive chains/shaft. Some over night charging off the grid. Pure electric range probably not much. This configuration can be optimized for fuel efficiency.

But the higher cost of such a vehicle cuts into possible savings due to fuel efficiency. Places where fuel costs are high, say India, capital to buy more expensive motorcycles is scarce. Still I expect this configuration come out of China, India, and other scooter/ motorcycle/ moped dominated markets of South Asia. Not DARPA.

I heard about an innovative financing of solar panels for such capital scarce regions. Instead of trying to sell the panels to the customers, they try to rent it or sell only the electricity to the customers. So people look at it as so many nyra/rupee/dinar per month instead of total cost to buy it out right. It was an NPR report from couple of years ago. Not much news about it since. So it must have died soon after the report.

It is so illogical and insane it is so frustrating. The world capital markets are sloshing around with some 2 or 3 trillion dollars in cash. They don't find opportunities worth investing. At the same time converting free solar energy into usable form of electricity is deemed unviable because the capital costs are high. The only cost for solar and wind energy is the amortization and debt service. There is no more recurring expenses like buying coal or natural gas.

If you believe in free markets, Adam Smith and invisible hand of the markets, at least a few billion dollars will flow from these capital market to projects of solar energy and efficient hybrid motor cycles and pure electric mopeds. But the pundits of Wall Street keep saying the investment is not worth it. Mostly people are comparing the average cost of electricity production by solar with that of natural gas or coal. But Solar energy production peak comes close to peak electricity demand and peak spot price of electricity. Still it is not worth it?

May be if we link the western grid with the eastern grid and couple peak demand of eastern seaboard demand at 4 to 6 pm with peak production in Arizona may be it would become more profitable? Don't know.

Re:Don't look at DARPA for the Prius of motorcycle (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 6 months ago | (#46847217)

I want a pedal/electric street legal hybrid motorcycle which I can drive on the freeway to work.

Re:Don't look at DARPA for the Prius of motorcycle (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847345)

I want a pedal/electric street legal hybrid motorcycle which I can drive on the freeway to work.

Mixing the words "pedal" and "freeway" will allow you to get to the morgue efficiently, not work.

Besides, I owned a pedal-augmented moped 30+ years ago. Pedal to start it, pedal if you ran out of gas, otherwise 35 - 40MPH top speed and 100MPG. They've been around for a very long time. Your demands are too high.

Re:Don't look at DARPA for the Prius of motorcycle (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 6 months ago | (#46851653)

Your demands are too high.

Its the 21st century. Lets try some re-engineering.

Re:Don't look at DARPA for the Prius of motorcycle (2)

Rich0 (548339) | about 6 months ago | (#46847275)

It is so illogical and insane it is so frustrating. The world capital markets are sloshing around with some 2 or 3 trillion dollars in cash. They don't find opportunities worth investing. At the same time converting free solar energy into usable form of electricity is deemed unviable because the capital costs are high. The only cost for solar and wind energy is the amortization and debt service. There is no more recurring expenses like buying coal or natural gas. ...
If you believe in free markets, Adam Smith and invisible hand of the markets, at least a few billion dollars will flow from these capital market to projects of solar energy and efficient hybrid motor cycles and pure electric mopeds. But the pundits of Wall Street keep saying the investment is not worth it.

That huge pool of capital is privately held. They're not just looking for things to spend it on - they're looking to spend it on things that MAKE MONEY.

Sure, the people of India could use solar panels. However, they don't have money to spend, so this huge pool of capital isn't going to do a thing for them. The only reason it would get spent on panels is if they could produce electricity cheaper than what the Indians are already paying, or if the Indians were willing to pay more for the privilege of not having brownouts when it gets hot out.

People used to have $30/month cell phone plans with freebie phones. Now they're willing to spend $100/month on a plan and $200 for the phone as long as it has a touchscreen and internet access. As a result gobs of money get spent on making fancy phones. Sure, the first company to do it took a much bigger risk, but the risk to the follow-ons is from the competition, not the uncertainty of the market. Companies didn't just decide to spend lots of money on smartphones to be charitable - people are spending a lot MORE money than they used to on phones, and the investment is chasing that money.

This sort of issue isn't limited to India. The US has crumbling bridges all over the place, and yet is the home of that huge capital pool you speak of. However, not a dime of that money is going to get spent on fixing bridges, unless people decide that they're willing to pay a toll to cross every little creek in their town just for a bit more assurance that the bridge won't collapse under them.

The only way this pool of money is going to get spent on projects that have no likelihood of return is if somebody taxes it and just spends it (not caring about there being a profit).

Re:Don't look at DARPA for the Prius of motorcycle (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 6 months ago | (#46847337)

Lots of charts about trends in solar energy here [costofsolar.com] and here. [pv-magazine.com] The contrarian view from a business anlayst from Forbes is here. [forbes.com]

The Forbes guy says the cost reduction is largely due to subsidies and incentives. But he also says we need to worry about depletion of silicon too like worrying about depletion of fossil fuels.

Also, Clean Tech supporters often assert that the point of competitiveness will be accelerated because conventional energy prices must rise, primarily because of depletion of fossil fuel resources. But they don’t seem to think that the depletion of silicon needed to make photovoltaic cells; depletion matters, but the rate of depletion is often exaggerated.

. This guy says depletion of fossil fuel is over estimated and depletion of silicon is something to worry about. This genius does not seem to understand half the mass of planet Earth is silicon! Silicon dioxide is sand/earth/mud/rock. Of course it costs tons of money, energy and effort to separate silicon from sand. But we are not going to run out of silicon before we run out of fossil fuels. And the capital markets will listen to this Einstein because he writes for Forbes. Not to you and me because we are Dilberts who work a wage and write in Slashdot. Eventually solar will become cost effective, and there will be a mad rush into it. This is how booma and busts are created, methinks.

Re:Don't look at DARPA for the Prius of motorcycle (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 6 months ago | (#46847581)

I tend to agree that its time will come, and I'm fully supportive of public R&D to make it happen. But, the difference between an iPad and a Newton is timing, and Wall Street is probably concerned about that.

Clearly there is no fundamental limitation on the supply of silicon - it is only about the cost to refine it/etc.

Re:Don't look at DARPA for the Prius of motorcycle (1)

PPH (736903) | about 6 months ago | (#46847999)

That huge pool of capital is privately held. They're not just looking for things to spend it on - they're looking to spend it on things that MAKE MONEY.

And have zero risk.

Following the collapse of the CDO market in '07, they don't have many good places to dump the high risk tranches of investment risk. And now, with the Federal Reserve backing out of their quantitative easing role, what's a wealthy capitalist to do?

Keep in mind that the biggest, most evil capitalists who are seeking guaranteed high returns aren't a bunch of fat capitalists. They are outfits like CalPERS [wikipedia.org] , who absolutely must protect the pensions of their clients with all the political clout they can muster. Financial markets are now geared up to do their bidding. Screw the little guy who needs funding to run a business.

Re:Don't look at DARPA for the Prius of motorcycle (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 6 months ago | (#46850297)

That huge pool of capital is privately held. They're not just looking for things to spend it on - they're looking to spend it on things that MAKE MONEY.

And have zero risk.

Following the collapse of the CDO market in '07, they don't have many good places to dump the high risk tranches of investment risk. And now, with the Federal Reserve backing out of their quantitative easing role, what's a wealthy capitalist to do?

Keep in mind that the biggest, most evil capitalists who are seeking guaranteed high returns aren't a bunch of fat capitalists. They are outfits like CalPERS [wikipedia.org] , who absolutely must protect the pensions of their clients with all the political clout they can muster. Financial markets are now geared up to do their bidding. Screw the little guy who needs funding to run a business.

Understood, but I think the last thing we as a society ought to do is have economic policies that encourage people with wealth to just park it somewhere so that they can get free money. That includes pension funds - those funding them can either not promise pensions in the first place, or they can actually put enough money into the fund to pay for them.

I'm actually not a big fan of pensions in the first place. It isn't that I don't like the concept. What I dislike about them is that employees treat them like compensation and take a job that perhaps pays less now for the promise of a future pension. However, that pension isn't owned by them or managed by them, and if the company breaks its side of the deal the employee has no recourse. I'd be fine with pensions if companies didn't advertise the future value at all, but only the present contribution, and that those contributions went into a fund which was completely owned by the employee and not considered a company asset in the event of a bankruptcy. Then employees and their employers would be even at the issue of each paycheck, with neither side ever at risk of losing more than a few weeks worth of compensation in the event of a problem. I'd also forbid contributions to be based on years of service, because that encourages employees to accept less now in the hope of getting more later, when the company could very well go back on the deal.

The reason that state pensions want free money is that they've been promising fortunes to their employees for years, and as the bills come closer to being due they don't want to pay for them. If they had to pay in full each payday so that there was no future obligation, then there would be no problem. Employees would know exactly how much or little they're being paid, and employers would have to pay an honest wage to retain employees and not benefit from deception.

Re:Don't look at DARPA for the Prius of motorcycle (1)

PPH (736903) | about 6 months ago | (#46852943)

Some good ideas. But keep in mind that in places like California, public employees represent a significant voting block. So anything you might propose to clean the system up will just get voted down.

Re:Don't look at DARPA for the Prius of motorcycle (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 6 months ago | (#46854095)

Some good ideas. But keep in mind that in places like California, public employees represent a significant voting block. So anything you might propose to clean the system up will just get voted down.

Something like this would only benefit public employees. Right now they work for the promise of a pension, which it seems fairly likely the next generation will simply refuse to pay them. What incentive do they have to uphold the deal the previous generation made?

What I propose is to replace the current form of pensions with one where the money is paid out immediately to employees in accounts they own, but which are likely treated like 401ks/etc as far as access goes. That means that there is no promise for anybody else to keep.

It is possible that the amount of the "pensions" will go down, because it is easy to promise big money to somebody when you know you won't be the one having to come up with it in 30 years. However, unlike the promises currently being handed out to public-sector employees, they can actually take the new pensions to the bank.

But, I agree that change will be unlikely to happen. Instead public employees will fight hard to keep their current pensions, and then the next generation will just have municipalities declare bankruptcy and refuse to pay up. Courts have already upheld the right of municipal governments to do this, and when they do those promises are as worthless as those made by private corporations.

Re:Don't look at DARPA for the Prius of motorcycle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847683)

There are 2 or 3 companies that use that "innovative financing model" in the US, one of which is SolarCity, run by Elon Musk. It's not dead, not at all, but it seems to still rely on a functioning grid (they make the most money by selling excess energy to the grid while people are at work and then when people are at home or at night they pull from the grid, so no need for expensive batteries).

Re:Don't look at DARPA for the Prius of motorcycle (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 6 months ago | (#46848317)

US has a reliable grid and the utility companies are flush with cash fighting to protect their entrenched interests. The PBS report was about places like Nigeria, Libya, rural India, rural Pakistan, and such places. There is no grid or the grid is not all that reliable. There there is real demand for electricity and lack of capital. They are mostly using portable gas generators. Solar easily competes with them. But the large scale adaptation is lacking because of lack of capital and investments.

Re:Don't look at DARPA for the Prius of motorcycle (1)

cavreader (1903280) | about 6 months ago | (#46850819)

The primary cost of transitioning to solar energy to power even a mid-size municipality is the distribution infrastructure needed to deliver the power. Do you build an entirely new power distribution grid or work with the existing utility providers to modify an existing grid? Would you need to run parallel distribution systems while transitioning to a different power source? Slapping a few solar panels on your roof is one thing. But using an large solar farms to collect energy for wide spread usage is another. The transition to electric vehicles is slow going because of the lack of charging infrastructure. You will need to run parallel distribution systems to satisfy both the new electric cars and the current fuel delivery infrastructure.

Re:Don't look at DARPA for the Prius of motorcycle (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 6 months ago | (#46848083)

At the same time converting free solar energy into usable form of electricity is deemed unviable because the capital costs are high.

Fortunately, that is not true. Solar adoption is increasing very rapidly [greentechmedia.com] . From an article 6 months ago:

two-thirds of all solar PV capacity in place worldwide has been installed since January 2011.

Let's put that into perspective. It took nearly four decades to install 50 gigawatts of PV capacity worldwide. But in the last 2 1/2 years, the industry jumped from 50 gigawatts of PV capacity to just over 100 gigawatts. At the same time, global module prices have fallen 62 percent since January 2011.

Even more amazingly, the solar industry is on track to install another 100 gigawatts worldwide by 2015 -- nearly doubling solar capacity in the next 2 1/2 years.

Yes, it will still take a while to make a real dent in the world's huge energy demands, but doubling every few years is pretty impressive!

Re:Don't look at DARPA for the Prius of motorcycle (1)

kheldan (1460303) | about 6 months ago | (#46848733)

motor probably built into the hub of the rear wheel eliminating drive chains/shaft

Bad idea, actually, would increase unsprung mass, greatly affecting the handling of the bike in general, and it would also limit the physical size and dimensions of the motor itself. Better to use shaft drive and have the motor close to the center of mass of the bike, which would also keep it closer to the power source and control electronics.

Re:Don't look at DARPA for the Prius of motorcycle (1)

Agripa (139780) | about 6 months ago | (#46850611)

A pure electric drive train, motor probably built into the hub of the rear wheel eliminating drive chains/shaft.

Especially on an off-road vehicle, you probably want to keep the electric motor on the frame and couple it to the wheel to avoid raising the unsprung mass.

gi j starving infant search & rescue ensemble (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847237)

includes the the kitchen sink & solar powered appliances,,, one ensembler can 3 hot & a cot 100s of starving infants per day for less (99%) than the cost of 1 guaranteed fatal WMD on credit cabal missile... more (r)evolutionary advances from mom almighty.... what a gig

which hillary will preview the new s&r ensembl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847253)

on the runway at jfk? everbody knows baby's got new clothes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9F8QM3tjkTE

make it autonomous and add razors... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847265)

..and you end up with a Razorback straight out of Suarez' Daemon.

http://jamie3d.com/razorback

we never saw or heard us coming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847269)

our genuine history & heritage remains unvisible yet today http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=unrepentant&sm=3

Stealth Motorcycle in SW Virginia (4, Interesting)

OzPeter (195038) | about 6 months ago | (#46847283)

The Saltville PD in SW Virginia has just started using a fully electric motorcycle to patrol areas where miscreants are likely to hear traditional vehicles approaching, in order to better apprehend them.

Saltville PD running electric motorcycle [swvatoday.com]

Once again... (1, Insightful)

jddeluxe (965655) | about 6 months ago | (#46847403)

Hugh Pickens dot Com comes up with last week's news!

Batcycle (1)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about 6 months ago | (#46847699)

As long as they give a demo model to Anne Hathaway [geekoutlaw.com] , it's a win for everybody.

Oset Electric Trials bike demo. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847757)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REeeYtp-8qE

Do THIS with a conventional internal combustion engine!

Electric power allows instant on/off, and not frying your leg on a hot exhaust.

Finally! (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 6 months ago | (#46847809)

Finally! A hybrid vehicle that conservatives can believe in!

Re:Finally! (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 6 months ago | (#46848297)

That was exactly my thought...

An engineer: "We've invented a new hybrid motorcycle."
A conservative political activist: "Solar cells are Chinese, oil is American! The hybrid is not the American way!"
An engineer: "Uh...we've designed it for military covert ops."
A conservative political activist [drooling]: "I love hybrids! I love hybrids!"

:-)

Re:Finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46957939)

K. S. Kyosuke: You've been called out (for tossing names) & you ran "forrest" from a fair challenge http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

If it is also stealthy to radar.. (1)

earthforce_1 (454968) | about 6 months ago | (#46847873)

Shut up and take my money already!

Re:If it is also stealthy to radar.. (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 6 months ago | (#46848139)

Motorcycles actually are a smaller target for radar. The radar tends to pick up on other vehicles if there are any nearby. I notice this on those "Your Speed Is..." signs they set up around town, I have to get pretty close on my motorcycle before they work. I was also let off a ticket once because the officer said he didn't get a good readout on my bike. That was a few years ago, so it's entirely possible lidar and so forth make the difference insignificant - obviously clocking motorcycles is doable if somebody wants to spend the money. (My real solution was to start riding more offroad, where you can scare yourself at 20mph, and the bikes are unpleasant at freeway speeds anyways.)

Only $15K? (2)

davidwr (791652) | about 6 months ago | (#46847939)

Back in my day, that thing would've cost $500 per bolt, minimum.

IC can be very quiet, too (2)

SplitScenes (3632405) | about 6 months ago | (#46848005)

I'm not saying a hybrid electric motorcycle is bad, but I wonder if they've really done the due diligence necessary to completely write-off the internal combustion engine? A decade ago I had a Honda VTX 1800, which had a 1795cc V-Twin on it, and with the stock pipes it was *unbelievably* quiet. Other bikers - proponents of the "loud pipes save lives" school of thought - would warn me that I should swap out the pipes to make more noise lest I get killed by some inattentive automobile driver. I'm sure an electric bike can be very quiet - but with current muffler and noise cancellation technology, I wonder if they could achieve the same results with lower cost / less complexity / higher reliability than the proposed hybrid electric.

Target The Tank (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46848623)

Gasoline Tanks make great targets !

Ha ha.

"Hay dip shit ! Your safety's on."

No credibility.

Disappointing news for the civilian market (1)

eric_harris_76 (861235) | about 6 months ago | (#46854679)

There was nothing about radar-absorbing paint. So much for the civilian market.

Makes some sense. (1)

Larry_Dillon (20347) | about 6 months ago | (#46859363)

Battery powered motorcycles make a lot of sense for general consumers, if the price is right. Most of the disadvantages that keep people from buying all-electric cars don't come into play with motorcycles, especially when they are a 2d vehicle.

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