A Kinder, Gentler Truck
Who among us has not, in our idle youth, gleefully sent two toy Tonkas into an intense, headfirst, frame-jarring collision? But Ford's new concept Tonka, in addition to its fuel-saving capabilities, is designed to avoid crashes and minimize them when they occur.
The headlamps on the Tonka, for example, are a first effort to utilize LED light sources. Light-emitting diode technology has been used for brake lights for a decade or so, but the new generation of high-intensity white LEDs makes a compact headlamp, clustering 30 tiny LED searchlights so that they focus a solid beam pattern on the road ahead.
The Tonka's installed image recognition system looks ahead to detect
possible collisions. When the system senses that a crash with a smaller vehicle is inevitable, it activates the vehicle's air suspension to lower the front end in 0.3 seconds. That way, the heavy grille and bumper will hit the small car lower down and do less damage. This system also lets the truck "kneel" at
a curb when necessary, so you can swing up into the driver's seat more easily.
It may be a monster, but it's a sensitive, courteous one.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.