TAMPA - Once the Space Shuttle launched for the last time, many employees at NASA were left without an outlet for their talents.
Now, some have quit looking toward the sky and hope to find a creative avenue for their skills back on the ground. It's called the Treycycle. A prototype three-wheeled vehicle that is being offered as a safer alternative to law enforcement motorcycles.
"Instead of dealing with trying to fix the problem, you have to fix the solution. And the solution is to develop a frame which is going to provide additional protection for motorcycle riders," said Michael Shulman, spokesperson for the Emerging Growth Institute.
And there's no shortage of qualified workers on the space coast wanting to be a part of the project.
"Over the last year, with so many NASA engineers being out of work over that period, there's been an influx of those coming into the shop," said Shulman.
With a frame providing three hundred and sixty degree protection for the rider; and a kevlar-strength body, designers feel like it's a perfect fit for the future. Today they sought feedback from the Florida Motorcycle Safety Coalition during a meeting at USF. Unlike a conventional motorcycle, the prototype has two recumbent seats.
"They have to drive eight hours a day and their legs are hanging down and it gets very uncomfortable. Here you're like sitting in an arm chair," explained Ray Ackley, designer and builder of the prototype as he demonstrated the seated position of the driver.
A member of the Tampa Police Motorcycle Squad looked over the futuristic vehicle and relayed his thoughts, in private, to the designers.
With stability, speed and increased protection for its riders, the prototype may have a future somewhere in law enforcement. Exactly where and when remain to be seen.
Attorneys in the George Zimmerman murder trial reached an important juncture Tuesday afternoon. 40 potential jurors have been identified. The process now moves to the task of choosing ten panel members from the 40 selected.