Browsing articles in "Techonology"
Aug 8, 2012
Chris Salamone

Youngsters Yearning Tech, Not Torque

Just today, Bloomberg Businessweek released a longwinded call to arms – a consumer research firm has affirmed an automaker’s worst nightmare. Non-automotive technology, like cell phones and laptops, have become more desirable to Generation Y buyers than cars.

At first blush, that might not seem like such a huge revelation. Sure, smart phones and 4G connectability are the buzzwords of the day and cars are in an entirely different market. How are the two segments related? The answer, it would seem, is as colorful as William Wallace’s declaration of freedom in Braveheart.

Buyers aged 18 to 34 years, now see non-automotive gizmos and gadgets as the principle form of independence and escape.

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May 16, 2012
Chris Salamone

Honda Seeks “Harmonious” Mobility Device

Beginning in June 2012, Honda will start testing the company’s latest electric personal mobility device. UNI-CUB, a seated electric chair, stems from Honda’s originally famous ASIMO robot. But UNI-CUB is a whole different animal…er machine.

For starters, UNI-CUB is a balance controlled vehicle which relies on some fancy multi-directional hoodoo. Drivers can lean in any direction, while plopped down on UNI-CUB’s English-style saddle, and expect the wheels underneath to respond in an appropriately futuristic manner. Honda has pioneered a steering technology called Omni Traction Drive System which allows riders to travel forward, backward, side to side, and diagonally – instead of traditional forward/backward wheels. The system relies on rear wheels which move laterally to facilitate turning and front/rear wheel treads that are capable of different rotational speeds and directions.

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May 11, 2012
Chris Salamone

Subaru’s Rumored WRX Electric Turbo

Ever since the most recent generation Impreza rolled onto lots, buyers have wondered what the incoming WRX might look like. While we still have no idea what shape the next WRX will take, partly because Subaru refused to showcase a new design during last year’s Tokyo Auto Show, a recent article from Brisbane Times speculates that the vehicle’s turbocharger will have some pretty nifty technology.

For the time being, WRX enthusiasts will have to remain ‘enthused’ by imagining the improved fuel efficiency and reduced turbo lag associated with an electrically-powered turbocharger.

And although no official comment has affirmed the rumor, Brisbane Times cites an “unnamed source” and motortrend.com’s eagle eyes’ find of a Fuji Heavy Industries patent, taken out in 2007, on… you guessed it… an electric turbo.

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Mar 22, 2012
Chris Salamone

Sweden Considers Electrifying Highway

From a global perspective, the concept of electrifying a road, instead of each individual car, is well known. After successful applications in San Francisco and other major city centers, there can be no doubt that overhead electric cables are an efficient way to operate public transit. But little and less is understood about how the public, or industry, might benefit from a similar system. Volvo and Sweden hope to change all that.

In June, the Swedish Traffic Administration will consider a proposal to build a fast-track electrification project near the country’s northern perimeter. The plan aims to boost a 62 mile segment of road which connects a new mine and train depot – streamlining the shuttling of iron ore.

We shouldn’t be too surprised though. As a matter of policy, Sweden intends to become fossil fuel free by 2030.

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Feb 1, 2012
Chris Weiss

Chevy Volt Owners Could Get Renewable Charging With Innovative OnStar App

Chevy Volt owners clearly care about the environment or they wouldn’t be coughing up a big premium for series-hybrid technology. GM may give these owners even more power to clean up their commutes by launching a unique renewable-energy program for OnStar.

With the proposed system being developed in conjunction with Google, OnStar would receive a signal from PJM Interconnection showing the available renewably-sourced energy within the grid. PJM Interconnection is a regional electricity transmission organization (RTO) that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in more than a dozen eastern states.

The information would be uploaded to OnStar’s Advanced Telematics Operating Management System (ATOMS), where OnStar could use it to automatically match up charging Volts with renewable energy. A mobile app would let owners know when renewable energy is available.

“In the near future customers will have a real signal of demand for renewable energy,” said Nick Pudar, OnStar vice president of planning and business development. “As customers configure their Volts to favor renewable energy for their charging cycle, this real demand signal will influence utilities to tap into renewable sources.”

The system is still in the prototype stages and may or may not become commercially available. If it does, GM says that Volt owners will need only sign up to opt in. OnStar will take care of the rest.

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Dec 6, 2011
Chris Weiss

Nissan To Offer Wireless Charging, Home Power In 2013 Leaf

The Nissan Leaf already offers unparalleled fuel economy and cleanliness, and it will soon offer more convenience than ever. Nissan announced recently that it will be offering a wireless charging system as of 2013. The Leaf will also be gaining the ability to power your home as early as next year.

We knew wireless EV charging systems were on the horizon, but home power systems? Through installation of a Power Control System device, the Leaf will be able to feed into the home power grid as well as take from it. The user could control how much electricity the Leaf’s 24 kWh battery sends into the home grid, ensuring that it has enough energy left for tomorrow’s commute.

Nissan estimates that a full Leaf battery offers enough juice for about two days’ worth of energy needs in the average Japanese home. With installation of Nissan’s equipment, the Leaf would be a back-up generator for the 21st century.

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Nov 30, 2011
Dave Walter

Mercedes’ Aero Trailer Design Improves Efficiency

The “Aero Trailer” is what Mercedes-Benz calls it’s new tractor trailer redesign aimed at reducing wind resistance and increasing fuel efficiency.

With the help of a front airdam, side trim panels, rear diffuser and tapered rear design, Mercedes noticed a drop in wind resistance by 18 percent. This 18 percent, Mercedes believes, will result in a truck averaging 150,000 kilometers (93,205 miles) per year saving 2,000 liters (528 gallons) of diesel and dropping carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by five tons.

And that’s just for one truck over a year!

Nov 17, 2011
Chris Weiss

World’s Smallest Electric Car

If you had to guess what the world’s smallest electric car is, you’d probably think of a tiny single passenger or 1+1 like the Audi Urban Concept. Maybe an electric transporter like the GM ENV.

But you’d actually have to think much, much smaller to come up with the correct answer. Scientists in Norway recently created an “electric car” that is but a single molecule.

This electric car won’t get you to the grocery store, but it is an interesting development in science. The molecule is made up of four separate branches that act like wheels. Scientists used a very fine metal point from what’s called a scanning tunnelling microscope. The point ends in a single atom and when it’s placed near the car-like molecule some of its electrons jump to the molecule, causing the “wheels” to change shape and move the car forward.

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