The car is not going to disappear anytime soon and neither is the combustion engine, despite the inevitable rise in fuel prices. We have said it before, electrical motors are an energy-efficient method for driving vehicles but battery technology is simply not going to advance quickly enough for all-electric vehicles to be a practical reality for most uses anytime soon. The near and mid-term future is undoubtedly a combination of compact combustion engine generators charging dense battery packs that drive electric motors - the "range extender" option. We reported on one possible candidate, the disc motor
, a couple of months ago. Now, after nearly twenty years of development another candidate is going through final testing and it is a work of elegant genius - Dr. Herbert Hüttlin's Kugelmotor.
Remember back in the old days, when nano-scale motors were a clunky 500 nanometers
across? That record was subsequently broken with a 200-nanometer model, but has now been broken again, by a motor that’s just one
nanometer wide. By comparison, the width of a human hair is about 60,000 nanometers. The new motor, created by scientists at Tufts University in Massachusetts, is reportedly the first one ever to consist of a single molecule.
Just like a regular-sized device requires a regular-sized motor to operate, a nanodevice likewise requires a molecular-scale motor
. In some cases, that motor takes the form of a piston, and building a piston that’s just a few nanometers long ... well, it’s pretty hard. It can and has been done, but it’s an extremely fiddly process. Now, scientists from France’s Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the Université de Bordeaux, along with colleagues in China, have developed a molecular piston that is capable of assembling itself.
There are businesses that let you glaze your own pottery, cook your own steak or pick your own strawberries, but when it comes to the hands-on experience, a new offer from General Motors has them all beat. If you order a 2011 Corvette Z06 or ZR1, you have the option of traveling to GM's Performance Build Center in Wixom, Michigan, and hand-assembling your car’s LS7 or LS9 engine. It’s called the Corvette Engine Build Experience, and is believed to be the first program of its kind (if any readers would like to dispute that claim, please do so). If you don’t like the idea of providing GM with your mechanical expertise for no cost, don’t worry - you’ll have to pay an extra $US5,800 for the privilege.
There are racing simulators
– and then there’s I-WAY World. Taking four years to complete, the strikingly stylish complex in Lyon, France, features not only a bar, restaurant, fitness and conference rooms, but also offers enthusiasts 18 fully equipped 6-axis racing simulators with the choice of rally, endurance and Formula 1
What’s more frustrating than an accident with a fellow motorist? Trying to work out who is at fault. Aiming to do away with such disagreements and improve overall driver security is the Kolimat Roadscan DTW 1.0 Camera system. Equipped with a dual lens in-car camera that records up to 12 hours of audio and video onto an SD card, the unit also takes still pictures at regular intervals and features full GPS
capabilities. But with a function that disables erasing of data for events that measure above a preset “G” force, you had better hope you’re not at fault…
From the same place that brought you the Robot Suit HAL
comes the “motorized knee.” Designed by researchers at Japan’s Tsukuba University
the device supports the flex of the knee, which enables a runner to use 30 percent less muscle power compared to running unassisted.
You would expect big things from a company founded by the only living person to hold world speed records over 200mph on land and water, and the Kepler Motors Motion certainly looks the goods. Russ Wicks' company has used the Dubai International Motor Show to unveil the 800hp supercar of which only 50 will be built. A 550hp, modified Ford EcoBoost twin-turbo 3.5L V6 drives the rear wheels independently of a 250hp electric motor driving the front wheels. Add them together and you get an AWD system which launches the Motion to 60mph under 2.5 seconds with a top speed more than 200mph. Impressive specifications and drooling good looks, we think it’s a nice combination.
The Automotive X Prize
is a competition aiming to “inspire a new generation of viable, super – efficient vehicles that help break our addiction to oil and stem the effects of climate change”. With a $10 million prize pot and over 100 teams from 12 countries contributing entries, an unlikely contender has emerged in the form of West Philadelphia High School’s Hybrid X Team, which is applying its experience and knowledge to two entries including the Factory Five GT based EVX GT sports car.
Mazda's “Technologies for Tomorrow” display at the upcoming Tokyo Motor show will see the premiere of its next-generation direct injection gasoline Mazda SKY-G engine and Mazda SKY-D clean diesel engine, which offer improved eco-friendliness and torque thanks to optimized combustion efficiency. Mazda will also reveal the first next-generation automatic transmission, the Mazda SKY-Drive, which offers first-rate fuel economy and a direct driving performance feel. As part of Mazda’s SKY concept, the new engines and transmission are designed to help Mazda achieve its goal of improving the average fuel economy of Mazda vehicles 30 percent by 2015, compared to 2008 levels, without sacrificing performance.