With the majority of kinks worked out of the vehicle's design (we ended up adding a light but functional fairing, or shell-shaped windshield, and a sun awning), it was time to address the actual logistics of a cross-country road trip.
By Pierce Hoover
Posted 05.31.2011 at 9:36 am 1 Comment
Just weeks away from the start of the tour, we found ourselves with a working chassis, but without a body-like structure. Assembling and tuning the electric drive system had taken longer than we expected, but now we had to turn our attention to the problem of what this car would even look like.
By Pierce Hoover
Posted 05.19.2011 at 10:55 am 7 Comments
We expected efficiency to be the key challenge as we constructed our cross-country, ultralight electric vehicle. After all, we'd decided the car would use no more electricity than a continuously burning 100-watt light bulb. But durability turned out to be equally important. This car wouldn't be like the high-efficiency concept EVs that are confined to indoor tracks at universities and research facilities--this would be taking me and my son over mountains. Lots of mountains.
Back in 2009, we wrote about a little robotic dashboard companion called AIDA (for Affective Intelligent Driving Agent), an MIT creation that essentially read a driver’s facial expressions to gauge mood and inferred route and destination preferences through social interaction with the driver.
By Pierce Hoover
Posted 04.26.2011 at 5:34 pm 0 Comments
The goal of our 2011 Popular Science EcoTour is to cross the U.S. on the energy equivalent to that consumed by a single 100-watt light bulb left on day and night--in other words, 2,400 watt/hours per day. That's not a particularly large number when applied to electric vehicles, considering the average golf cart carries 6,000 to 8,000 watt hours in a 400 to 500 pound battery pack, with a best-case range of 30 to 40 miles on a full charge.
By Pierce Hoover
Posted 04.19.2011 at 1:03 pm 2 Comments
In just over a month, my son and I will set out from New York City on a 4,500-mile, summer-long road trip. We're not worried about rising gas prices, because we'll be making the trip in a vehicle that gets the equivalent of 1,000 mpg or better. It's a cart-sized two-seater that we built with the help of a few friends, and it runs off the electrical energy equivalent to that consumed by a single 100-watt light bulb.
Mobile phones that vie for drivers’ attention accounted for 25,000 injuries and deaths in 2009. and new drivers are common culprits—at least 60 percent of teenagers admit to fiddling with their phones when their hands should be at 10 and 2. To facilitate safe, secure driving habits in teens (and everyone else), Taser’s Protector accessory has a solution: allow only hands-free functions when a phone is in a vehicle, so it won’t distract a driver in transit.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the nation’s preeminent anti-distracted-driving crusader, said in an interview on MSNBC yesterday that federal officials are looking at technology to disable cell phones inside cars.
German researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology have developed an eyetracking device that could soon help keep drowsy drivers alert on the road for a fraction of the cost of existing systems.
Civil authorities around the world have tried all kinds of tricks to get drivers to slow down: speed bumps, rumble strips, flashing lights, the decoy police cruiser, and of course the good old-fashioned speed trap. The British Columbia Automobile Association Traffic Safety Foundation is taking a different tack: scaring the living hell out of drivers.
An invention that's been around for two decades, but is only now getting any real attention, could change the way millions of people drive -- if people ever have the good sense to adopt it, its inventor says. Japanese inventor Masuyuki Naruse claims that placing the braking and acceleration pedals in our cars side-by-side, just inches apart, is a dangerous design flaw. The solution: his Naruse pedal, a unified pedal design that puts accelerator and brake on the same foot-activated lever.
Bringing the "wanted poster in the post office" concept into the 21st century, the FBI has begun using facial recognition software to identify fugitives on North Carolina highways. The software measures the biometric features of thousands of motorists' DMV photos, matching them against mugshots. When the face matches that of a known criminal, the authorities jump into action.
For long-distance trips, the seeing-eye dog might soon be replaced by the seeing-eye car. Researchers on Virginia Tech's Blind Driver Team, with funding from the National Federation of the Blind, might soon give blind people the ability to do something they never thought possible: drive. The prototype "car" is actually a buggy equipped with lasers that judge the surrounding terrain.
Scientists have built a high-tech simulator to lay this important question to rest
By Jessica Portner
Posted 05.27.2009 at 7:16 am 30 Comments
When I slipped behind the wheel of the traffic simulator at Israel's Ben Gurion University recently, it was less than two minutes before I was bumping into the virtual cars and swerving around pedestrians. Maneuvering through the tree-lined urban roads projected in dayglo colors on giant screens was tricky--and I wasn't even one of their hard-drinking or toking research subjects.
You shouldn't fall asleep at the wheel with this chin jabber on the job. Worn around the neck, it holds a sharp prong under the driver's chin. If his head nods, the point quickly awakens him. Invented by K. H. Liman, of Rye, N.Y., it has a rubber knob below the tip to prevent serious injury.
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.