Archive for the ‘Automotive’ Category

AIDA the dashboard bot

Sunday, November 1st, 2009


In an attempt to create more interaction with our vehicles, researchers have created AIDA. AIDA is basically a car computer and GPS that has some well designed personification. That cute little face will learn your daily habits and schedules and make recommendations to keep you out of traffic. We really like the idea, and the little bit we see of AIDA already has us falling in love, but won’t the placement be a distraction? We already know some people who give their car a name and treat it like a person, we don’t want to imagine what would happen if their car actually had some interactive personality. AIDA’s motion and emotive display are worthy of the crabfu challenge for sure, but do we want AIDA on our dashboard? Yes, most emphatically. She can sit right by the little hula girl.

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Blue Force Tracking

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

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 Blue Force Tracking is a United States military term used to denote a GPS-enabled system that provides military commanders and forces with location information about friendly (and despite its name, also about hostile) military forces.

In military symbology, the color blue is typically used to designate friendly forces while red is used for enemies, and green or yellow are used for neutral forces.

Blue Force Tracking systems consist of a computer, used to display location information, a satellite terminal and satellite antenna, used to transmit location and other military data, a Global Positioning System receiver (to determine its own position), command-and-control software (to send and receive orders, and many other battlefield support functions), and mapping software, usually in the form of a GIS, that plots the BFT device on a map. The system displays the location of the host vehicle on the computer’s terrain-map display, along with the locations of other platforms (friendly in blue, and enemy in red) in their respective locations. BFT can also be used to send and receive text and imagery messages, and Blue Force Tracking has a mechanism for reporting the locations of enemy forces and other battlefield conditions (for example, the location of mine fields, battlefield obstacles, bridges that are damaged, etc.). Users will include the United States Army, the United States Marines Corps, the United States Air Force and the United Kingdom. Recently, the United States Army, the United States Marines Corps have reached agreement to standardize on a shared system, to be called “Joint Battle Command Platform”, which will be derived from the Army’sFBCB2system that was used by the United States Army, the United States Marines Corps, and the Army of the United Kingdom during heavy combat operations in Iraq in 2003. (more…)

Speed Bumps Harvest Electricity from Moving Cars

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

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Fast food lovers may finally feel a little less guilty about getting greasy burgers. One New Jersey Burger King recently equipped its drive-thru with a speed bump that harvests electricity from cars that pass by. The speed bump is part of a pilot project from New Energy Technologies, and if all goes well, drivers could see energy-harvesting speed bumps at drive-thrus, toll plazas and even shopping centers.

The speed bumps, or “MotionPower Energy Harvesters,” look much different from your typical concrete humps. The “bump” is actually flat, with long, skinny pedals running across the top. As cars drive over the speed bump, it pushes the pedals down and turns the gears inside. The spinning creates about 2,000 watts of electricity from a car moving at five miles per hour.

Energy created by the cars is instantaneous (like solar and wind power), meaning that speed bump developers must also figure out a way to store power for later use. To that end, developers at New Energy Technologies are currently experimenting with mini-flywheels (a device that stores energy by spinning), and also plan to look into supercapacitors and other energy-storing mechanisms. Eventually, once storage is perfected, the speed bumps could be used to power street lamps or even feed power directly to the grid.

While the pilot project has seen encouraging results, don’t expect to see energy-harvesting speed bumps at your local Mickey D’s anytime soon: The devices won’t be commercially available til sometime next year. Still, it’s intriguing to think that those midnight french fry cravings may help create clean, renewable power.

Source: New Energy Technologies

Via Scientific American

The Next Revolution: Iran Gets its First Electric Car

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

Outside of Israel and Shai Agassi’s electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure company Better Place, the Middle East doesn’t have much of an electric car industry. That might change soon now that a team of Iranian scientists from Tehran’s Khaje Nasir Toosi University of Technology have developed the country’s first EV, a mini two-seater called “Qasedak-e Nasir”, or the dandelion of Nasir.

Source: Khaje Nasir Toosi University of Technology Via Ecofriend

First Algae-Powered Car Attempts to Cross US on 25 Gallons

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

Powering our cars with algae-based fuel could be the next Apollo mission.” That’s what Rebecca Harrell, co-founder of the Veggie Van Organization and producer of the upcoming film FUEL, told me yesterday in front of San Francisco’s City Hall. Over the next 10 days she’ll be joined by Fuel director and Veggie Van Organization cofounder Josh Tickell as they take the Algaeus, along with a caravan of other green energy vehicles (including the Veggie Van and the biodiesel-powered big green energy bus), on a cross-country road trip. “It hit us that we needed to drive the car across the country,” Harrell said. “People think of algae fuel as this long-term, far off thing. But seeing is believing.

Source: Inhabitat

Trucks and fuel storage tanks in depots are becoming targets for organised crime

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

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Viper Guard has called for urgent Government action to control rising oil prices and is warning of a new wave of fuel theft. The warning follows predictions that speculation in the oil market will soon see diesel prices back at last summer’s high of £1.25-£1.30 litre, when both trucks and fuel storage tanks in depots became high-value targets for organised crime.

But Viper Guard General Manager Debbie Jones said things could be worse this time round thanks to the recession.

“Hard times not only tempt people into crime but also put pressure on potential purchasers not too ask too many questions,” she said. “Obviously we would urge all operators to make sure they have adequate security measures in place this summer, but we want to see Government action too.

“The Government sowed the seeds of the problem itself when the Chancellor first put 2p on a litre to offset his 2.5% VAT cut last November and then went ahead with the further 2p increase in April. These increases need to be reversed urgently both to help hauliers through the recession and to head off the expected increase in fuel theft.”

She also urged the Government to control the activities of speculators in the City. “These gamblers are threatening the health of the entire road transport sector, with inevitable knock-on effects across the economy,” she said. “But after the Government bail-outs in the banking industry last year, many of the speculators are effectively state employees.

“The lesson of the credit crunch, surely, is that it’s enormously harmful to allow bankers to pursue their own narrow agenda at the expense of the wider public interest. Yet it seems the bankers have learnt nothing and are carrying on in the same old way. The Chancellor can and must rein them in before they do more damage.”

source: Surveillance News Portal

Brake assist with GPS data for new Nissan Fuga

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

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Nissan has announced a new driving aid system called the Navigation-Cooperative Intelligent Pedal which basically uses data from the car’s satellite navigation system to help smoothen the drive when it comes to a curving road.

How many times have you approached a bend and then suddenly realised you’ve gone in too fast? Can you see ahead past a blind corner in a bend? Some bends can sharpen mid-way… and then you panic and have to deal with understeer or worse! If the system detects that you are about to do this, it sounds an audible warning.

If you persist, the system moves the accelerator pedal upwards to assist the driver to release it. Once the foot is lifted off, the system will smoothly reduce vehicle speed by braking. The system will debut on the new Nissan Fuga when it is unveiled in fall 2009. As it currently is, the Fuga is the Japanese name for the Infiniti M.

A similiar system was introduced earlier this year on the Toyota Crown Majesta, though it doesn’t work exactly the same. The Toyota system uses gear changes and engine braking to help slow the car down in anticipation of a corner (the car is aware of this via the in-car GPS system too) or a toll booth.

In addition to that, the Toyota system will activate a brake-assist function if it thinks the driver is too late in decelerating when approaching a stop sign or a junction.

The new BMW ActiveHybrid X6 xDrive50i: world’s most powerful hybrid!

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

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The BMW ActiveHybrid X6 is truly mind-boggling. It’s an SUV, but the sloping roofline and two seats at the back kind of limit its utility and storage space. And it’s a hybrid which people usually associate with economy, yet its mated to a massive V8 twin turbocharged engine. There is not one but two electric motors, and the vehicle ends up having more torque than the BMW X6 M, a full 100Nm more to be exact.

The V8 motor puts out 407 horses, while the two electric motors make 91 horses and 86 horses respectively. All three propulsion devices running at the same time produces a peak 485 horses, with a massive peak torque of 780Nm. (more…)

Adaptive Cruise Control Goes Mainstream

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

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Heading south on the New Jersey Turnpike, Ford Motor Company engineer Jerry Engelman swings his 2010 Taurus into the left lane to pass a semi. The Taurus hesitates, slowing down, and then Engelman adjusts his heading. The car takes off. “Larry,” he calls to his colleague in the back seat, “write that down!”

Engelman is driving, but just barely. The Taurus has a radar-based adaptive cruise-control system that lets him set a top speed and then simply steer while the car adjusts its velocity according to traffic. He’s been weaving and changing lanes, doing between 45 and 70 mph—and hasn’t touched a pedal in an hour. Over the past few years, Ford engineers have driven 60,000 miles to test, tweak, and optimize this system, which also provides collision warning alerts. They’ve been focused on the future in a financially dismal present—analysts actually praised Ford for losing only $1.4 billion in the first quarter. “It’s a tough market,” says Derrick Kuzak, VP of global product development, noting that the Taurus is important for “reestablishing us in the large-sedan market.” That’s executive-speak for “This car really needs to sell.”

source: wired.com

Nissan Turns Over An Electric Leaf

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

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After teasing us for months with prototypes and promises, Nissan unveiled a sleek five-passenger electric hatchback with a claimed range of 100 miles. It’s called the Leaf, and Nissan says it will be here next year.

Nissan pulled the sheet off the Leaf tonight at the company’s new headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, where CEO Carlos Ghosn promised to usher in the auto industry’s electric era. All of the major automakers are rushing to bring mainstream EVs to market in the next few years, but Japan’s No. 3 automaker has been among the most aggressive. Ghosn has made it clear he believes EVs are the future and he wants Nissan to lead the way

“We have been working tirelessly to make this day a reality — the unveiling of a real-world car that has zero, not simply reduced, emissions,” Ghosn said in a statement. “It’s the first step in what is sure to be an exciting journey – for people all over the world, for Nissan and for the industry.”

Nissan isn’t saying what the Leaf will cost — look for a price in the $25,000 to $30,000 range — but promises it will be the first affordable, practical electric car when it goes on sale in the U.S., Japan and Europe by the end of 2010.

source: wired.com