Imagine being able to switch out the batteries in electric cars just like you switch out batteries in a photo camera or flashlight. Engineers in California are trying to accomplish just that, in partnership with a local San Diego engineering company. Rather than swapping out the whole battery, which is cumbersome and requires large, heavy equipment, engineers plan to swap out and recharge smaller units within the battery, known as modules.
Coming to Nevada's high desert: A massive, $5 billion factory that will pump out high-tech batteries for hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles. That's assuming state leaders deliver on the economic incentives they packaged to entice Tesla Motors to Nevada rather than four other states competing for the factory and the economic jolt it promises to bring.
We already charge our toothbrushes and cellphones using contactless technology. Researchers in Germany have developed a particularly efficient and cost-effective inductive method that could allow electric cars to soon follow suit. The new design places the charging coils close to the car’s undercarriage without actually touching it. The charging station is also robust enough to be driven over.
Three automakers plan to begin selling hydrogen-fueled vehicles to consumers in 2015. To support the fair sale of gaseous hydrogen as a vehicle fuel, researchers at NIST have developed a prototype field test standard to test the accuracy of hydrogen fuel dispensers. Once the standard is field tested, it will serve as a model for constructing similar devices for state weights and measures inspectors to use.
Long dismissed as too impractical and expensive for everyday cars, fuel cell technology is getting a push into the mainstream by Toyota, the world's top-selling automaker. Buoyed by its success with electric-gasoline hybrid vehicles, Toyota is betting that drivers will embrace hydrogen fuel cells, an even cleaner technology. The company’s fuel cell car will go on sale before April next year.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk promised Thursday to give away the company's entire patent portfolio to all comers, as long as they promised not to engage courtroom battles over intellectual property. The decision is meant to encourage other automakers to expand beyond gasoline-burning automobiles, and opens the door to more collaboration with Tesla, which is already making electric systems for Daimler and Toyota.
Roofs made of carbon fiber. Plastic windshields. Bumpers fashioned out of aluminum foam. What sounds like a science experiment could be your next car. While hybrids and electrics may grab the headlines, the real frontier in fuel economy is the switch to lighter materials. Automakers have been experimenting for decades with lightweighting, but the effort is gaining urgency with the adoption of tougher gas mileage standards.
General Motors, Ford and Toyota are joining the Univ. of Michigan in establishing a testing site for driverless cars that will simulate a cityscape, and will work with the school to help make such vehicles commercially viable, officials announced Tuesday. The Michigan Mobility Transformation Center's 32-acre testing site near the Ann Arbor school's North Campus is scheduled to be completed this fall.
Washing a car can be a costly and time-consuming chore. The European model of Nissan’s Note will be the first car to wear a new type of paint which could make car washes obsolete. The paint has been engineered to be super-hydrophobic and oleophobic, meaning it repels both water and oils. The tests may result in an aftermarket application.
Self-driving cars are motoring along: Google’s cars can navigate freeways comfortably, albeit with a driver ready to take control. But city driving has been a far greater challenge for the cars' computers. In a blog entry posted April 28, the project’s leader said test cars now can handle thousands of urban situations that would have stumped them a year or two ago.
Tesla Motors Inc. delivered its first eight electric sedans to customers in China on Tuesday and CEO Elon Musk said the company will build a nationwide network of charging stations and service centers as fast as it can. Customers received the first Model S sedans this week at a brief ceremony at Tesla's office in a Beijing industrial park, also the site of its first Chinese charging station.
People who pack their cars and drive like Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s “Vacation” pay a steep penalty when it comes to fuel economy, according to a report by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Researchers tested vehicles at a variety of speeds with different configurations of load and tire inflation. While the findings were not unexpected, they serve as a reminder of how drivers can save money by taking simple measures.
A major factor making driving difficult is hazards that are sudden and hard to predict. The wrong choice in this situation, known as the “dilemma zone,” may lead to crashes. Roadside and in-vehicle display warning systems may help drivers handle these hazards by predicting their occurrence and providing advanced warning to the driver, according to a new study.
What makes cities in India and China so frustrating to drive in makes them ideal for saving fuel with hybrid vehicles, according to new research by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Heavy traffic, aggressive driving style and few freeways allow hybrids in these countries to deliver as much as a 50% increase in fuel savings over conventional internal combustion vehicles.
Technology now allows us to read facial expressions and identify which of the seven universal emotions a person is feeling: fear, anger, joy, sadness, disgust, surprise or suspicion. This is very useful in video game development, medicine, marketing and, perhaps less obviously, in driver safety. Scientists and automakers are now using these tools and embedded cameras to observe drivers and determine when driver irritation takes place.
Once the stuff of science fiction, driverless cars could be commercially available by decade's end. Under a California law passed in 2012, the DMV must decide by the end of this year how to integrate the autonomous vehicles onto public roads. That means the regulation's writers will post draft language regulations around June, then alter the rules in response to public comment by fall in order to get them finalized by the end of 2014.
Driving behavior is a key factor that is often insufficiently accounted for in computational models that gauge the dynamic characteristics of vehicles. Researchers in Germany have developed a new driving simulator designed to make the “human factor“ more calculable for vehicle engineers.
While taking in the scenery during long road trips, passengers also may be taking in potentially harmful ultrafine particles (UFPs) that come into the car through outdoor air vents. Closing the vents reduces UFPs, but causes exhaled carbon dioxide to build up. Now, scientists have developed a high-efficiency cabin air filter that could reduce UFP exposure by 93% and keep carbon dioxide levels low.
Your car might see a deadly crash coming even if you don't, the government says, indicating it will require automakers to equip new vehicles with technology that lets cars warn each other if they're plunging toward peril. The action, still some years off, has "game-changing potential" to cut collisions, deaths and injuries, federal transportation officials said at a news conference Monday.
Local Motors Inc. and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have signed a new partnership to develop and deliver technology to produce the world’s first production 3-D printed vehicle. The CRADA between Local Motors and ORNL will explore making vehicle construction more efficient, including lower production time, costs and part count, coupled with higher standards of control, safety, aesthetics and mechanical flexibility.
Installation of electric vehicle charging ports at some companies has not kept pace with soaring demand, creating thorny etiquette issues in the workplace. The shortage has created incidents of "charge rage" among drivers, with vehicles being unplugged while charging. But adding chargers is expensive.
According to Anupam Agrawal, a professor of business administration at the Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, firms can manage their sourcing better by developing relationships not only with their suppliers but also with their suppliers’ suppliers. The lack of communication or collaboration between the big players at either end of the supply chain spectrum can prevent gains in efficiencies.
New research finds that the social benefits of autonomous vehicles will outweigh the likely disadvantages. Decreased crashes, increased mobility, and increases in fuel economy will drive the technology forward, says RAND Corp. researchers, despite privacy concerns and need for updates in insurance regulations.
A connected vehicle network, with vehicles exchanging information with the highway infrastructure and other vehicles using wireless communications, could improve traffic safety, mobility and environmental impacts. Southwest Research Institute, which has considerable expertise in intelligent vehicle development, is now serving as an official Connected Vehicle Affiliated Test Bed for this technology.
Professor Ken Naitoh of Waseda Univ.'s Faculty of Science and Engineering has discovered a new compressive combustion principle that could yield engines with a much higher level of thermal efficiency: up to 60% or more in applications including automobiles, power generation and aircraft.
Toyota is promising a mass-produced fuel cell car by 2015 in the latest ambitious push to go green by an industry long skeptical about the super-clean technology that runs on hydrogen. Satoshi Ogiso, the Toyota Motor Corp. executive in charge of fuel cells, said the vehicle is not just for leasing to officials and celebrities but will be an everyday car for ordinary consumers, widely available at dealers.
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