Thursday, June 09, 2005

Mercedes Unveils Bionic Car

Integrating design ideas from nature, the Bionic concept car from Mercedes-Benz contains some impressive technology. DaimlerChrysler engineers adapted the form of a tropical fish, called the Boxfish, and created a vehicle with an impressive 0.19 drag coefficient.

In addition to the aerodynamics, the engineers used an ultra efficient 140-hp diesel engine. At a constant speed of 55mph the vehicle might be able to achieve 84 mpg.

As if that wasn't enough they threw in Selective Catalytic Reduction technology to further reduce the emission of nitric-oxides as much as 80%.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

GM Attempts To Revive Lines With New Vehicles

Confronting flagging sales, GM is unleashing a slew of new and updated models.

Sales of current models have fallen 25% in the first five months of 2005 versus a year ago, and the auto maker reported a $1.3 billion first-quarter loss. To add insult to injury, its corporate bonds were relegated to junk status as investors began to question GM's solvency.

Raw Story describes the updates as new and better looking, whick begs the question, why do automakers make ugly cars? They especially seem to think that just because a car is relatively inexpensive that the design has to be crappy, whereas good design costs little or nothing to include. Is it arrogance; thinking that consumers will buy the vehicles no matter what simply because they're made by GM? Or are they afraid that high-style lower-cost offerings will cannibalize the luxury sales? Although I often wonder if people pay more just so that they can flaunt how much they did pay.

Whatever, the answer GM needs a miracle. They've been caught flat-footed by the surge in gas prices over the last year and a half much as they were back in the mid-70's gas crunch. Their tardiness in bringing hybrids and more fuel efficient models into show rooms, makes me wonder if they learned their lesson.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Open Source Reality

Two researchers from opposite sides of the world have embarked on a project which they hope may change production, economics, and the very fabric of human society forever.

Find out more at my new blog:
Tomorrow Next.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Canadian Delivery Service Integrating HEVs Into Fleet

Purolator, Canada's leading overnight carrier service, has added 10 hybrid-electric vehicles(HEV) and one Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Vehicle(FC-HEV) to its fleet. The HEVs are expected to cut greenhouse emissions by 50% while the FC-HEV will cut tail-pipe greenhouse emissions by 100%. The company plans to integrate 20 more HEVs into its fleet this year. If the vehicles meet expectations, Purolator plans to purchase as many as 400 HEV vehicles annually as it replaces aging trucks.

Via Mixed Power

Friday, June 03, 2005

U.S. Air Force Looks To Blimps

An Air Force study has concluded that blimp deployed between 56k and 350k ft above sea level would be useful for supply, communication, and surveillance purposes.

The Air Force has been conducting a number of trials with the technology over the last few years.

Air ships may ply the skies once again.

via Engadget

Friday, May 27, 2005

Sport Utility Bikes Offer Environmentally-Friendly Alternative

The FreeRadical bike conversion kit from Xtracycle is allowing bike enthusiasts the world over to carry massive loads around towns and across mountains.

The device shifts the rear wheel back 15 inches allowing for an extra seat or cargo space. Offering flexibility and adaptability, the FreeRadical has created spades of fanatical followers.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Toyota Deploys Automated Buses To Aichi Expo

The Intelligent Multimode Transportation System (IMTS)developed by Toyota is zipping as many as 18,400 people per day around the Aichi Expo in Japan. The vehicles use automatic steering and control based on magnetic markers embedded in the center of the road to stay within their lane. They can also automatically form platoons using wireless communication. Powered by compressed natural gas, 13 of the vehicles are in operation.

Wormholes May Not Be A Feasible Transportation Method

Studying the properties of exotic matter in wormholes, researchers from the University of Oregon believe that wormholes may be impractical as a means of transportation. With a wormhole modeled under relativity using exotic matter needed to maintain it would prove inherently unstable and it is unlikely that it could be maintained long enough for someone to travel through it. Under quantum mechanics the wormhole is more stable, but the other end may fluctuate in space and time to unpredictable locations making travel also extremely risky.

Oh well, I guess we have to look back to warp engines or at least wait for a unified theory of gravitation and quantum mechanics.

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Tango

Commuter Cars Corporation is delivering its first batch of 100 Tangos starting with actor George Clooney. Currently carrying an astronomical $85k price tag, the company expects the Tango will cost a still heady $20k once it enters commercial production.

At a remarkably narrow 39inches, the Tango presents and unusual profile on the road. Despite its diminutive size, it is a monster on the road. Its electric motors can drive the vehicle up to 150mph and can accelerate it from 0 to 60 in 4 seconds.

A 130km range and 8 foot length make the vehicle a commuter's dream.

They need to come down on the price. I expect even at the $20k level the company will find few takers. If they can lower it to around $10k, I can see a lot more demand for it. The other thing going against it are the monster SUVs on the American road which keep many drivers from even considering a small vehicle over fear of wrecks.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Hybrid Camry in 2006

Toyota has announced that it will introduce a hybrid version of its popular Camry sedan in 2006. The company plans to manufacture 48,000 of the vehicles for the 2006 model year from its plant in Kentucky. Video of the announcement is available.

2006 may well mark the year that Hybrid technology goes mainstream. The introduction of multiple models from multiple car makers coupled with spiraling upward fuel prices should spur car buyers who have set out the hybrid revolution thus far.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Human Powered Hydrofoil

Capable of skimming across the water at an incredible 20mph, the Pump-a-bike is driven by a rider using what is called a bounce technique, which probably is the pumping referenced in the name. Still 20mph is nothing to sneeze out especially for a human powered craft. The Pump-a-bike retails for $1000 including the starting stand.

Subaru Delays Hybrid Introduction To 2008

Subaru, citing cost issues in the design of their internally developed vehicle, has decided to cancel the release of a hybrid car in 2006. Instead the automaker will turn to technology developed by rival Toyota, and hopes to have its hybrid in stores in 2008.

A part of the agreement Toyota will receive advanced lithium-ion batteries of ruse in their hybrids from Subaru parent Fuji Industries

Subaru is the latest of a string of automakers to turn to Toyota's system.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Two Great Tastes Which Taste...?

What do you get when you merge two seemingly irreconcilable technologies such as the automobile and the monorail? Well, I guess you get the RUF!

Described as a dual-mode transportation system, the RUF system complements a city's existing road infrastructure with a elevated monorail system that can be used by cars and buses. Each vehicle has a large slot through the center through which the RUF rails would run. A set of rubber tires within the vehicle will provide locomotion along the track.

While an intriguing approach, I wonder what sort of chaos poorly maintained vehicles could wreack on such a system. If a car were to fail along the line, other vehicles would simply have to pile up behind it.

There seems to be some interest in the system in Kolkata, formerly Calcutta.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Air Powered Cars

After 12 years of work Guy Negre's dream the Air Car is coming closer to commercial production. Powered by compressed air, the vehicles are projected to cost less than a fifth of a cost per mile of a traditional gasoline vehicle. A number of prototypes and designs have been developed from taxi to long, segmented buses. The small MiniCat model can be filled within 4 hours from an electric air compressor or within 2 minutes at a filling station and boasts a 96 mile range with a top speed of about 60mph. Negre's company MDI has signed more than 50 commercial development licenses around the world, and hopes to begin production soon at its pilot plant in France.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Semi-truck Maker Introduces World's Largest Pickup

At 5-tons and 22 feet in length, the International RXT by semi truck maker International Truck and Engine Corporation is a monster on the road. Aimed at the professional market, the vehicle can carry 5 large passengers in addition to hauling a large load.

This vehicle definitely runs against the general industry movement, but it will likely find a good market in the construction trade pulling customers from Hummer and Ford and GM's large pick-up lines. The International RXT comes with a professional price tag with base configuration starting at $70,000.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Nevada Pushing for Maglev Line from Las Vegas to Primm

Vying for federal dollars, the California-Nevada Super Speed Train Commission is hoping to build a $1.3b 40-mile line between Las Vegas and Primm on the Nevada-California border. The line is envisaged as the first portion of a 270-mile line from Las Vegas to Anaheim CA. Despite competition from two eastern proposals, one in Baltimore and another in Pittsburgh, the Nevada line has a good chance due to its significantly lower cost and fewer property conflicts.

The technology for the system would be provided by German Maglev company Transrapid, which implemented the world's first commercial maglev system in Shanghai which opened last year. Travel time between Las Vegas and Primm is expected to be 12 minutes. To travel the full distance to Anaheim would take about 90 minutes.

via the Monorail Society