Weird Tech: Solar-powered cars in 2,400-mile desert race

Would you walk through this to rescue your PC?

Eighteen teams are to embark on a 2,400-mile road-race across America this Sunday, driving solar-powered cars.

Braving temperatures well into the mid-30s, and without the luxury of air conditioning, the 10-day North American Solar Challenge will test competitors to their limits.

But it's not just the heat they'll be up against. "What's got us worried is the wind," Kathy Van Wormer told the media. "The car is shaped like an aeroplane wing."

According to experts, the bi-annual Solar Challenge advances power management, vehicle efficiency and other technologies essential to getting electric and plug-in hybrids on the road.

Man risks life for PC

A man was arrested for disorderly conduct after rushing into his burning house to save his PC on Sunday night.

Fire crews in Winona, Minnesota were already trying to put out the blaze when the man, who was "obviously intoxicated" turned up, local media reported.

Despite initially obeying police orders to stand back, he later ran inside, battling the flames to rescue his computer. The man was charged with jeopardising the safety of emergency personnel after needing some assistance to get back out.

Phone bill horror

A holiday-maker told reporters this week of his shock at receiving a £31,500 mobile phone bill after downloading an episode of Prison Break and a few music tracks whilst on holiday in Portugal.

Service provider Yes Telecom – part of Vodafone – initially stood firm over the sky-high charges, but after months of negotiations the bill has, fortunately, now been reduced to £229.

News in brief

In other news, a former HSBC worker who tried to steal £72 million ($141m) from the bank through a bold electronic ploy has been jailed for nine years.

Meanwhile, if you're planning a crime spree, leave your satnav at home. Chances are it's retaining data that will not only locate you at the scene of the crime, but could also tell police where you've hidden the loot .

And finally…

We had to include the Walking Head Robot in this week's round-up. Without inventions like these, Weird Tech simply wouldn't be.

Armed with six piston-powered legs, the 4-metre wide robot houses a sinister LCD screen displaying an eerie "human-like" face that can be described only as 'wrong'.

It bides its time standing still, waiting for an unsuspecting victim to walk past – at which point the ultrasound sensors kick in, launching the robot into a disturbing routine of "pre-programmed motions".

And no doubt scaring the living daylights out of all who pass it by. Great stuff.

Julia Sagar
Content director, special projects

Julia specialises in ecommerce at Future. For the last four years, she’s split her time between leading TechRadar’s crack team of deal editors - covering all the biggest sales of the year including Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Amazon Prime Day - and helping the audiences of Future’s consumer tech and lifestyle brands (TechRadar, Tom's Guide, T3, Marie Claire, Woman & Home and more) find the best products and services for their needs and budget.

A former editor of global design website Creative Bloq, she has over 15 years’ experience in online and print journalism, and was part of the team that launched TechRadar way back in the day. When she isn't reviewing mattresses (she’s tested more than she cares to remember), or sharing tips on how to save money in the latest sales, she can usually be found writing about anything from green energy to graphic design.