X-Prize: $10M Shared by 3 100mpg+ Cars
It might not seem very "backdoor"-ish, but the X-Prize is about innovation and it seems to me that lots of innovation can be done in backyards.
Micro performance is done in the lab. But macro changes start in the yard.
For instance, improving current racing bicycles within the current rule system is done on the micro level via million-$ labs.
But many faster bikes of a wide range of designs are made in backyards by using cheap coroplast sheet-board, duct-tape, zipties and dumpstered bike parts. In terms of pure speed, it's the shape that counts the most, not the parts used. Backyarders have had a field day here for years. They love re-purposing tech that was designed for (and capitalized by) other uses.
The first $10m Xprize was won by Burt Rutan for the first citizen space ship.
This latest prize was shared by 3 production-worthy vehicles each getting 100+mpg.
How did they do it? By way of aerodynamics and light weight. Aero and lightness mean carbon fiber -- which can readily be worked with in the backyard.
I note that the winning car weighed 830 lbs -- 4 wheels and an engine. The 2nd and 3rd place tying e-cars weighed 2100 lbs for the side-by-side and 1400 lbs for the inline tandem. Batteries weigh a LOT and weight is huge in an MPG contest.
Or, maybe we should just call it an "energy contest." I wonder what the best energy vs. weight ratio set-up is. The 830-lb Edison2 has 40hp. ...A 20:1 ratio. A human-powered .5-hp HPV can be made super-aero and only 30 lbs. ...A 60:1 ratio. So the car, though it still seems kinda heavy, has a 3x better weight-power efficiency! (But then ya gotta factor in speed, range, cost, complexity.)
The two e-cars, though far heavier, got 187mpg and 205mpg -- by far better economy. All 3 were 2-person vehicles.
Check it out further at: http://www.progressiveautoxprize.org/