Give the National Weather Service some credit for some clever crowdsourcing experiments. It has just launched a Twitter-based program to monitor tweets about severe weather, and hopes to eventually transform cars into mobile weather stations, Discovery News reports.
Cutting through solid steel with flaming bacon certainly has its appeal, but for large-scale industrial processes, the Fraunhofer institute thinks electromagnetic pulses may work better than the other white heat. Case in point: their new electromagnetic pulse (EMP) device that cuts through steel faster than a laser, and cheaper than a machine tool.
Airbags have become a crucial part of the safety features in any modern car. Unfortunately, they only protect people in the front seats. To solve this problem, Ford has created a combination seat belt/airbag for passengers in the back of the vehicle.
The inflatable seat belts blow up upon impact of a certain force, quickly expanding and providing added restraint and protection for people riding in the back seat of cars. And since the passenger in the back seat is more likely to be a child or elderly person, that extra protection really goes a long way.
Racing autonomous cars through the desert is one thing. Racing a driver-less car up the steep, winding paths of the Rocky Mountains at race speeds is quite another, but that’s the goal a team of Stanford graduate students has set for itself, outfitting an Audi TTS named “Shelly” to navigate the Pikes Peak race course wit no one behind the wheel.
Toyota's rivals have long complained that the popular Prius hybrid has a less-than-green legacy due to its manufacturing process. Now the car maker has flashed its green thumb by creating two new species of flower that help offset the carbon emissions from the Prius plant in Japan.
The new version of the cherry sage plant can absorb harmful greenhouse gases, such as nitrogen oxide, through its leaves. And Toyota's variant of the gardenia acts as a natural humidifier by creating water vapor in the air, to help cool the factory grounds, reducing the energy required for air conditioners.
Usually, the drag race comes after the new muscle cars hit the road, not while they're still on the drawing board. But in a tech presentation in Detroit this week, Chrysler showed off a computer-aided modeling system it developed in-house that it says let the company bring its Challenger from concept to market in just 21 months, quicker than Chevrolet did its similarly muscular Camaro.
Here's an innovative application for augmented reality: telling you how to do stuff you should already know how to do. BMW have developed a concept for AR glasses that can assist their own mechanics in performing maintenance on the company's high-performance cars. The glasses read the field of view, point out the part that needs replacing, the screw that needs turning, or the cap that needs tightening (and even tells users which way to turn it).
Nissan has made another stride toward that strange but often-promised future: cars that drive themselves. A new system set for release in Japan links information from a car's real-time GPS navigation with existing radar-guided safety tech to help drivers make smooth turns on curvy roads. The Navigation-Cooperative Intelligent Pedal uses GPS mapping data to detect an oncoming bend, then strategically decelerates or applies the brakes. Here's how it works: When the nav system indicates a curve is looming, the accelerator pedal physically moves upward. Then the system activates the brakes.
A new autonomous vehicle-control system on the BMW drawing board could prolong drivers' lives behind the wheel, without sacrificing their own and others' safety. That's good news for elderly drivers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports crash fatalities among drivers over the age of 70 fell 21 percent between 1997 and 2006, despite a 10 percent increase in that population. The decline is likely due to elderly drivers self-limiting their driving. But hanging up their keys means a loss of independence and lower quality of life for older drivers -- especially in rural areas.
Terrafugia's prototype roadable aircraft - or flying car - recently completed its first successful flight after six months of road and runway testing. The company announced the flight of the Transition, an aircraft with foldable wings that can drive at highway speeds and fit into the average garage, at Boston's Museum of Science yesterday, calling the feat a historic milestone in aviation. "This breakthrough changes the world of personal mobility," says Terrafugia CEO Carl Dietrich. "It's what aviation enthusiasts have been striving for since 1918."