Inexpensive and efficient, the smallest cars are finally available in the U.S.
By Stephan WilkinsonPosted 03.09.2006 at 2:00 am 0 Comments
Small streets and pricey fuel have shaped the European car market to favor smaller cars. In fact, what we call a compact car is a midsize on the continent. But now that Ameri- cans are feeling the burn of expensive gas, automakers have responded by bringing a fleet of smaller-than-subcompact vehicles to our shores. Unlike previous stripped-down econoboxes, these will be equipped to appeal to both the budget-minded and the car-savvy consumer.
A new brake concept uses a carâ€™s energy to slow itself down, making brake fluid obsolete
By Stephan WilkinsonPosted 01.16.2006 at 2:00 am 0 Comments
Despite all the auto-tech brain-power in this world, fully electronic brakes-
which would replace brake fluid with lighter, quicker wires and motors-have yet to arrive. The long-standing obstacle: Industry-standard 12-volt electrical systems can´t drive a motor powerful enough to stop a two-ton sedan. The prototype Electronic Wedge Brake, by German company Siemens, solves this problem by tapping the vehicle´s own energy to slow itself down. Electric motors  drive screwjacks  that move a corrugated outer plate  fore and aft in plane with the rotor .
In "Get Out Now!" [Oct. '03], Stephan Wilkinson tells the history of fighter-plane ejection seats starting from the early 1940s, but high-altitude escape technology actually reaches back at least five centuries. Professional skydivers Katarina Ollikainen and Adrian Nicholas recently teamed up with an art historian to construct in painstaking detail a parachute designed by Renaissance artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci.