3 fuel-free ways to get around

Published on August 3rd, 2012
3 fuel-free ways to get around

These smart forms of transport will help drivers save money and our precious planet Earth…

1. The Segway
Ever noticed a policeman gliding around on what looks like a big, two-wheeled lawnmower? Well, that “lawnmower” is actually a super-smart device called a Segway, created by an American inventor named Dean Kamen.

So, what makes the Segway so smart? Well, it has five built-in gyroscopes and four underfoot sensors, which analyse the rider’s balance a whopping 100 times per second and adjust the machine so it can balance all by itself (even if you aren’t standing on it)! And the best part? It’s battery powered, so you never need to fill up on fuel.

The fuel-freedom may be the best part, but the coolest part about the Segway is the way you drive it around… to go forward or faster, all you have to do is lean slightly onto your toes, and to slow down or go backwards, you just shift your weight backwards onto your heels. And you thought it was a lawnmower…

2. Electric cars
Imagine if you could plug your car in to charge just like you do with your cellphone. Well, people are working on it… even right here in South Africa!

In 2008, a Cape Town-based company called Optimal Energy unveiled the Joule, our country’s first electric car. To keep it going, all you have to do is plug it in to a standard 220V home outlet, leave it overnight (it takes seven hours to charge) and then your fuel-free car is ready to take you about 300km before it needs charging again… Now that’s what we call a smart car!

It’s the ideal form of transport for city-slickers who drive to work and back every day and would love to stop spending so much on fuel… And of course, with zero carbon emissions, the car is even more ideal for our precious planet Earth. Check out this video of the Joule in action:

Unfortunately, the Joule recently hit a dead end when the company couldn’t get enough funding, but we think this is just the beginning of an electric transport revolution. Watch this space!

3. Hydrogen-powered cars
Hybrid and electric cars may be all the rage right now, but if you’re looking for the next big thing in fuel-free transportation, don’t look further than the first element on your periodic table.

Hydrogen-powered cars convert – you guessed it – hydrogen (gas or liquid) into electricity to power a car, releasing steam out of the exhaust pipe instead of the usual toxic gasses that petrol-guzzlers belch out every day.

Hydrogen is already being used in a few cars and lots of research is being done, but there are still many problems that need to be solved. For example, where will we get all the hydrogen we’d need, and how much would it cost to buy one of these fancy fuel-free chemical-crunching cars? But the answers are out there, and who knows? Maybe you’ll be the person to find them…

The above three smart ideas were brought to you by 3M, a company that uses curiosity and creativity to solve problems around the world every day. Click here to read more about this awesome, innovative company.




Credit: Images from Flickr/Leo Reynolds and Wikimedia Commons