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Friday, October 5, 2007

Teen scientists rev their motors

Teen scientists rev their motors In an industry where going green seems logical an innovative electric vehicle comes along that rides like a motorcycle and produces zero emissions. Tango: Tomorrow's Transportation Solution is the vision of Ben Gulak and Jason Morrow.

"We wanted to simulate it as close to an actual sports bike as possible, like a speed bike," said Gulak an 18-year-old high school student from Chisholm Collegiate in Oakville, Ont. "So, that starts with the look alone. When you sit on it, it feels just like a bike."

Gulak and Morrow were among sixteen teen scientists who represented Team Canada in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the annual Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) from May 13-19. A couple of days prior to Intel ISEF Team Canada showcased its projects at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto. The Tango was on display as an electric personal transportation vehicle at the event.

Morrow also an 18-year-old high school student, from Westdale Secondary School in Hamilton, Ont., says it's very easy to ride the Tango.

"You sit on it just like the R6 (Yamaha) sports bike," he said, "…and to drive forward just lean forward and it drives right under you, and if you want to turn just lean to one side and the suspension takes care of it and you lean and that's it."

The Tango is designed with two side-by-side wheels and an R6 Yamaha frame with hand machined parts that the motorcycle body is made of.

As far as what it's made of on the inside, it too has electronic technology used in everyday appliances like the Nintendo Wii uses to detect angle and motions said Gulak.

"Accelerometers," he said. "That's what gives the relative position of the bike relative to the ground so the driver leans forward and gives it angle and the speed at which he's leaning forward. And that's what we use to control the wheels."

As the rider leans over the gas tank like on a sports bike the Tango still distributes the majority of the weight along the wheels. As you're turning you depend on your weight as you lean to one side and to the other side, which is automatically detected by the system the wheels have in place.

"The wheels have got an actuating system so if you lean to your right one wheel will rise up and the whole bike will tilt over to that side," Gulak said. "So you still experience high g turns like on a regular bike."

The Tango can reach top speeds of 40 miles per hour and Morrow claims it is more practical than the Segway or the embryo from Bombardier.

"But we use a different bouncing technology than them (segway)," he said. "Just over the top of the wheels we can attain higher speeds. Our design is much better (than the embryo). It's two wheels and it's a lot more maneuverable."

Three top winners of the Intel ISEF were awarded $50,000 college scholarships. From a selection of more than 1,500 young scientists from 51 countries, regions and territories Dayan Li of Greenbelt, Md., Philip Streich of Platteville, Wis., and Dmitry Vaintrob of Eugene, Ore., won the three Intel Foundation Young Scientist Awards.

In regards to putting the Tango out on the market, Morrow believes it can benefit society, which is ultimately their goal. They also have markets like Mexico City, Shanghai, and a lot of cities in China and India in mind because the Tango is compact and agile which is ideal in these crowded cities he said.

"Through events like this, publicity, we hope to get investors and what not that believe in our project and that'll take it to next level I guess," Morrow said. "And definitely car manufacturers of course, people that have the technology of mass production already."

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