The problem with the backseat--really with the whole rear of the car--is that it's in your way when you're trying to reverse. So researchers at Keio University in Japan have applied optical camouflage technology to automobiles, making the back seat appear transparent so the driver can see straight through it when backing up.
The latest perceived target for cyber criminals: the automobile. The DOT has a vision for a networked automotive future in which cars speak to each other and to roadway infrastructure via wireless communications. But opening up those channels of inter-car communication means also providing a way in--an avenue that hackers could exploit for ill.
Drivers of Volkswagens could soon forget about fender benders or lane drifting on the Autobahn — their cars will take care of those little problems.
The German automaker debuted a new "Temporary Autopilot" (TAP) program that can control the car semi-automatically at speeds up to 80 mph. It combines existing driver-assist functions found in many cars nowadays, like adaptive cruise control and side monitoring for safer lane-changing, with a radar system, laser scanner and ultrasonic sensors.
One of the biggest obstacles facing electric vehicles is their range — the best models on the market can only drive about 100 miles on the highway on a single charge, which is pretty limiting in a world with very few EV charging stations. But AAA, the biggest roadside assistance service in the country, plans to offer a solution that has helped many a stranded motorist who runs out of fuel: An emergency supply of juice.
Someday your car will give you recommendations on where to eat, suggest more efficient routes between home and work, and even monitor your health. But for now it's just keeping tabs on your driving habits, recording your behavior in case it needs to be reconstructed after an accident.
Federal officials are poised to announce next month that all cars must contain a black box, similar to that installed on airplanes, to give authorities a glimpse of your activities in the event of a car wreck. The devices could help pin down what happened in the moments before a crash, helping authorities determine who is at fault for what, and eliminating uncertainty from human witnesses.
Before Ford's Model T entered mass production, cars were largely a novelty, a curio for those privileged enough to afford them. They sputtered odorous gases, crawled at speeds barely faster than a horse's gallop, and stirred up so much dust that you'd need to wash up after disembarking. Pretty cool!
Michigan researchers have built a prototype of a new auto motor that does away with pistons, crankshafts and valves, replacing the old internal combustion engine with a disc-shaped shock wave generator. It could slash the weight of hybrid cars and reduce auto emissions by 90 percent.
Split cycle engines—engines that split the functions of a normal four-cycle piston into two separate but adjacent and complementary pistons—have never been able to match the efficiency and overall function of traditional internal combustion engines, but a new design could change all that. By tweaking the standard split-cycle design with new features like a compressed air tank that captures wasted energy from the system, the Scuderi Group claim not only to have matched the efficiency of the standard four-cycle engine, but to have far surpassed it.