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Aerodynamics

Imagine insect-like aircraft capable of military or civilian surveillance missions, impossible for current fixed-wing or rotary-wing vehicles – tiny flying machines able to access buildings reduced to rubble by earthquakes, or act as a fly-on-the-wall in the meeting rooms of enemy leaders. Such aircraft may be one step closer to realization, thanks to a breakthrough in our understanding of how flapping wings work. Read More
What's wrong with this picture? If you said the engines are upside down, you'd be wrong. The odd engine placement is part of a cruise-efficient, short take-off and landing (CESTOL) aircraft concept from the Georgia Tech Research Institute which also sees mechanical wing-flaps replaced by high-speed blasts of air to generate extra lift. It's hoped that the development of such craft will make more airports available to fixed-wing jet aircraft by enabling take off and landing at steep angles on short runways, as well as reducing engine noise. Read More
The Honda Civic hybrid gets approximately 45 mpg on the highway, while the similarly-sized 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco gets 40 mpg. That's pretty decent on the Chevy’s part, considering it isn’t even a hybrid. Of course, because it isn’t a hybrid, that means it doesn’t sport a hybrid’s price tag - the Cruze Eco will start at $US18,895, as opposed to the Honda’s $23,800. So, how is it possible for a combustion-engined car to almost match a hybrid’s fuel efficiency? Well, lowering the weight and the ride height help a bit, but according to Chevrolet, the real reason lies in the car’s unique front air shutter system. Read More
If you're into windsurfing, you'll most likely be familiar with the NeilPryde brand. Now the company is taking a step in another direction by diving into the high-performance road bicycle market. Designed in partnership with BMW's DesignworksUSA, the result is a highly aerodynamic machine developed from extensive wind-tunnel testing and computational fluid dynamic modeling that makes use of complex – and very distinctive – aerofoil cross-sections in the carbon fiber frame and forks, while weighing in at as little as 6.75 kg. Slick in more than just looks! Read More
Fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are huge priorities in the aviation industry – passenger airliners chew through amazing quantities of fuel. Take the Boeing 747, which guzzles somewhere around a gallon of jet fuel per second – it's clear that a percentile improvement in fuel consumption can make a huge difference to costs at the end of a long-haul flight. That's why the Minix wing tip deserves close scrutiny. It replaces the tilted winglets at the tip of an aircraft wing, can be retrofitted to any airplane, and smooths out the wing-tip vortex, reducing the aircraft's wing drag. Minix claims the design is five times more effective than a regular winglet and can save as much as 6% on an aircraft's energy costs. For a commercial Boeing 747, that equates to a saving of around 600,000 gallons of fuel per year, per aircraft. Food for thought. Read More
Last year, we brought you the story of tech company AeroVironment’s life-size artificial hummingbird, that flies solely by flapping its wings. Now, a group of Japanese researchers has successfully built and flown a flapping-wing-powered swallowtail butterfly. Besides looking incredibly cool, the life-size “ornithopter” has also proven a principle that could have big implications in the field of aerodynamics. Read More
The NTF 4.0, a car built by a team of students from Laval University in Quebec, Canada, achieved an astonishing 2,487.5 mpg (US) a week ago at the 2010 Shell Eco-Marathon Americas in Houson, Texas. The feat earned the team the $US5,000 grand prize in the Prototype category, in which fuel-efficiency can be achieved through designs that are... well, that are as radically streamlined and lightweight as possible, really. The combustion-engined NTF (any ideas what that stands for?) was by no means the only impressive vehicle at the event, however. Read More
Next week at the 2010 New York Auto Show, Chevrolet will be unveiling the compact 2011 Cruze Eco. Visually, this car isn’t going to be big news – it’s OK, but nothing you haven’t seen before. With a six-speed manual transmission, however, it should achieve an estimated 40mpg on the highway – what Chevrolet calls “hybrid-like” fuel efficiency. With that kind of mileage, but without a hybrid’s complexity or price tag, the Eco could prove pretty popular. By comparison, the hybrid Toyota Prius and Honda Insight get 49 and 43mpg highway, respectively, while the non-hybrid Honda Civic sedan gets 34. Read More
Two of four submissions have now been unveiled by the companies wishing to produce the next generation of IndyCar open-wheel racers, and the most recent one is one of the most fascinating looking racecars we've ever seen. The DeltaWing is a radical departure from traditional open-wheeler design - in fact, the only thing you could really compare it to is the bizarre lovechild of a drag racer and a Batmobile. With its comically narrow rocketship front end, broad rear end and narrow tyres, the DeltaWing aims to outperform the current crop of IndyCars for significantly less money, while delivering extraordinary efficiency gains and leaving a clear airstream for following cars, in order to promote close racing and overtaking. But is the public ready for a car that looks... so little like a car? Read More
Adding a self-built aerodynamic outer shell to a brand new Honda Innova 125i big-wheeled, step through scooter has resulted in its already pretty impressive fuel efficiency being improved considerably. Experienced Dutch cycle designer Allert Jacobs has spent the last couple of years designing, building and tweaking his machine before hitting the road recently for the all important road test. Read More
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