Google is working on developing a strange new car hood that has turned a lot of industry heads. It was recently awarded a patent that proposes placing a strong adhesive on the hood of its autonomous cars. This is meant to be a precaution just in case an autonomous car strikes a pedestrian or cyclist; the people would become stuck to the hood of the car, thus protected from the “secondary impact” of being thrown off of the car and onto the ground or another car. Secondary impacts are generally the cause of more serious injuries than the actual impact of that car itself.

stickGoogle filed for the patent a few years back and seems to be trying to cover its bases in terms of temporary solutions that will lower the risks of people getting hurt around self-driving cars as the technology develops from nascent to public. Google had this to say:

“While such systems are being developed, it must be acknowledged that, on occasion, collisions between a vehicle and a pedestrian still occur. Such safety mechanisms may become unnecessary as accident-avoidance technology is being further developed, but at present it is desirable to provide vehicles with pedestrian safety mechanisms.”

The glue being used on the hood of Google cars is described to have something like a “eggshell” of a coating over its main adhesive layer. This is meant to keep small things from sticking to the car like insects and other small animals, but to stick strongly given an impact that occurs with substantial force and waste, like that of a human body colliding with the car.

Does this have any chance of actually working? Rebecca Thompson, head of public outreach for the American Physical Society, had this to say:

“Getting hit by a car once is much preferable to getting hit by a car and then the ground and then another car… Cyclists wear helmets not as much to prevent their head’s impact with the car as much as their head’s impact with the ground when they fall.”

Some think that this might be a crazy enough idea to work, and if it does, that many large objects that move in public might be outfitted with a similar sticky substance.

fly paper car“This is essentially a variation on an external airbag, which on its face seems like a good idea for a low-speed vehicle as a backup safety measure,” stated Gabe Klein, former head of DC’s and Chicago’s departments of transportation. Klein now advises mobility-related investment funds and startups. “Why not consider it for non-autonomous vehicles?” Klein wonders.

Perhaps because it would create extremely awkward situations for drivers hoping to pull off a hit-and-run without being late for work. In New York City, a bicyclist may well find him- or herself on the other side of town before he or she has a change to de-stick.

Thompson says the sticky hoods might cut down on hit-and-runs, but they also might cause cars to have trouble moving to safety or even drag a human’s limbs under the wheels.

This isn’t as clear cut of a choice as you may think. Sure Tesla is the big electric car maker and the pioneers at that, but Chevy has been taking notes and has made a pretty compelling car. When it comes to electric cars the reach of your product is what is going to separate you from the competition. While there is a general ebb and flow to these things when it comes to electric vehicles, it came to advertise with around 100 miles, to the extent that it could be possible that they needed for that normal day of driving. Drivers are still very much inclined to feel doubt when it comes to the range claims of most auto makers. mp

as we can see today about 200 miles per charge is the sweet spot electric cars need to be getting in order to be considered serious contenders in the supremacy of the electric car. This means we are expecting that the car is able to handle running the errands doing your daily commute, getting dinner and having enough left in the tank, or should I say, battery to handle the possibility of an emergency.

In this regard there is really only 2 cars that can answer the call, there is the Chevy Bolt and the Tesla Model 3. The Model 3 is experiencing record pre-sale figures.Chevy is claiming a range of around 200 miles, and Tesla not to be outdone is claiming 215 miles per charge for their model 3. Those are pretty good preparatory numbers, and will still need to face the challenge of the EPA testing gauntlet, which is still very much in its infancy, but is likely to produce a workable number I’m sure most people will be satisfied with their methodology. This is important to note considering when Tesla first started promoting their Model S they claimed that it would get 300 without any hick ups. However, the number is more like 265 according to the EPA.

carsNow the Bolt as of late has been indicated as a master of their suspensions and that has been a big key to their success and managing energy transfer loss. Lets not forget what this means for their ride quality either. The current Volt also has these same benefits in its tool belt. The front wheel drive quality of the car should serve its central goal as a rural runabout.

Compare this to Tesla which offer an air suspension for its Model S, which is a stark alternative to their model 3. At any rate, the standard model will probably be a settled suspension. Tesla has designers who cal look to a huge amount of experience adding to the ride quality of both their Model S and Model X with the thinking of creating a superior driving experience.

Now when we push all the tangibles to the side and start to get to the nitty gritty of the ordeal we want to know how much its going to cost.  They say that the Bolt will retail for about $30,ooo although the MSRP may be closer to $37,ooo. Whereas the Tesla will cost $35,000

In just 3 days the Tesla Model 3 had reached 276 thousand pre-order sales. When you consider that they are requiring a $1,000 retainer fee they are going to get a $270,000,000 boost to their company for no production of anything. The motivation behind this many people are assuming that this will be the car to save us from global warming and be the image of the future, but very few people have ever seen one of the things they spend $1,000 for something they have never seen. The messiah complex that is placed upon Elon Musk and Tesla motors is something that the world has never really seen and many are taking a step back and asking if the accolades and promise of this car is warranted. lnnn

Lets begin by looking at the tangibles of this car. we know that the Model 3 will cost a cool $35,000 and that is before any tax incentive which depending on the state you live can reach upwards of $8,000. This will not yet be sold until late 2017, and as we also know given the huge back order some car owners will not be able to receive theirs until late 2018 depending on your proximity to their plants and the gigafactory. Next we can consider the rear driver estimate of the range of this car which is being put conservatively at 215 miles per charge, and boasts a 0-60 time of less than 6 seconds. If you elect to go for the bigger battery and all wheel drive you are likely to get a range of about 300 miles which is right on par with any new car today, with a fuel cost of $0.00. The interior will also have a 15inch display for the vehicles data and controls, which is similar to the Model S.nl;

When we consider the appearence of this puppy it resencbles the stance of the model 3 from Mazda but lacks a lot of the race car feel of this puppy.  From the side and back the sedan Model 3 resembles the Model 3 in a lot of ways. it is a tall roof and a boobed nose and tail. Head on it is a blunt upturned snout that evokes what some may think of when they remember the Tesla gen 1 roadster. The idea here is deliberate and is trying to make the consumer feel that they are part of the continuation of the Tesla movement and that this is the evolution of sorts of where they have been aiming this whole time. “for all of you who bought a model S or an X, thank you for helping for for the Model 3, Tesla cheif Elon Musk told a crowd, when reffering to the Model 3. This may not sit well with the right people but oh well, they already payed for it, he goes on to say that “with any new technology, it makes multiple iterations and economies of scale before you can make it affordable,” and that this car was “only possible to do, after going through these prior stages.” The Tesla formula works and excited to pull out in the Model 3.

 

Tesla recently sent out media invites regarding its expected March 31st event at its Hawthorne, California facility. The tech giant promises to unveil its long awaited Model 3, the previously esoteric electric car company’s first vehicle to be accessible to standard car buyers.

Tesla has been known for its incredibly innovative, but incredibly expensive luxury electric cars. It’s a pioneer of plug-in cars and has even created entirely new business models never before utilized by vehicle manufacturers.

model xFor example, earlier this year Tesla released a software update that offered the first ever autopilot feature to be made accessible to drivers on the road. The software came out before legislation had even been produced to dictate the way it should be utilized, enabling a famous ride from Los Angeles to Manhattan in just over 60 hours. Apparently the software was used while the car was operating at around 90 miles per hour.

CEO Elon Musk has stated that he wasn’t sure to what extent he wished to reveal the car at the event, especially since it wasn’t due to hit the market until next year at the very earliest. However, the invitation seems to imply that the media will be shown the new model in its entirety.

As much as a leader as Tesla has become, it’s not actually the first car company to put out an affordable, completely electric car. General Motors surprised everyone when it came out with its Chevy Bolt, which only cost around $30,000.

Many have seen the Model 3 as a potentially make-or-break model for Tesla, which has enjoyed heavy and generally positive press but on the whole does not utilize a financially sustainable business model with its high-end, expensively produced luxury cars. The main decider of whether the company will be able to make a long-lasting place for itself in the automotive industry will be if it can make a vehicle that’s accessible to the mainstream.

For example, its more expensive models have been sold only in the tens of thousands; that means Tesla only has earned access to a tiny fraction of the pie accessed by more major automakers on an annual basis.

The 3 will depend heavily on the so-called Gigafactory for its battery development. The Gigafactory is a massive battery manufacturing facility under construction in the Nevada desert. Tesla states that the facility will reach its peak manufacturing capacity sometime in 2020.

spacexThe Model 3 is expected to cost somewhere in the arena of $35,000 before tax breaks, making it competitive with the Bolt but still slightly more expensive (the Bolt costs somewhere around $30,000). Considering the Model S and Model X cost upwards of $100,000, the model will constitute a major change in the sense of accessibility of the Tesla brand. Both models will offer a 200-plus mile of range on a single charge, making it considerably more practical than the more typical sub-100-mile cars that have dominated the market.

Tesla’s Hawthorn facility is located directly next to its famous SpaceX headquarters, so how many people it will actually be able to pack into its media frenzy will be interesting.

If you’re wondering when and why to buy a green vehicle, some global warming statistics may help you to understand the real good you can do the world by reducing your carbon footprint.

The process of global warming already endangers the health of every living human on the planet, jeopardizes national security, and threatens other basic human needs like access to clean drinking water. Despite allegations that it was simply a hoax, the predicted impacts of the process including high temperatures, rising seas, severe flooding and droughts are already increasingly common.

green car2If we want to avoid and mitigate these consequences, we’ll have to identify the causes and put a stop to them.

That’s where cars come in. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, transportation produces almost 30% of all U.S. global warming emissions.

Just cars and trucks account for about one fifth of all U.S. emissions, emitting around 24 pounds of carbon dioxide and other global warming gases per gallon of gas used. 5 pounds of that comes form the extraction, production and delivery of fuel, but a majority of the heat-trapping emissions come straight out of the car’s tailpipe.

Add the rest of the U.S. transportation center, meaning all the planes, trains, ships and freight- and you’re back up to thirty percent of all U.S. global warming emissions.

The more oil we extract, the more difficult it will be to extract it and the dirtier the gasoline burning process will become. That’s why using less oil is the only real solution.

Enter fuel-efficient vehicles, which use less gas to travel the same distance as the standard vehicle. If we burn less fuel, we end up with less emissions. If we can curb the rate at which we create carbon emissions, we can slow down the pace of global warming.

Electric cars and trucks are even better, though all-electric vehicles only produce zero emissions to drive if their electricity comes from renewable sources.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, improving the fuel efficiency of U.S. vehicles is the biggest single step we can take towards the initiative to cut America’s oil consumption in half by 2025.

This initiative has been in the works for years now. American automakers are required to meet fleet-wide fuel economy and pollution standards set in 2012 by the U.S. department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency.

green3If these standards are truly put into action and auto manufacturers follow through on their agreements, American oil use stands to decrease  by over 3 million barrels a day.

To put that number in perspective, that’s about the amount of oil the U.S. ships from the Persian Gulf and Venezuela combined.

That wouldn’t just pay off in terms of keeping our air clean and our atmosphere temperate; it would save over $8,000 over the life of the 2025 vehicle (which will probably drive itself), even after spending the additional cost that generally comes with a fuel efficient vehicle.

California has also passed some important legislation regarding heavy-duty vehicles such as semis and school buses, which would become significantly cleaner with more progressive standards.

Ever bought a 2011 Rav4 and regretted opting out of the tow package? It happens to the best of us, and the good news is that you don’t necessarily have to drop $400 on getting a hitch welded on and the electrical installed so that you can legally tow a trailer with functioning brake lights and turn signals. Save yourself around $250 by just paying for the parts yourself (you can find hitches on amazon for about $100 and Curt-T Connectors for an average of $50) and installing the guys on your own.

wrnechFor this article, we’re going to skip the hitch installation and instead move forward to setting up your Curt-T Connectors to assure that your trailer’s lights are hooked up to your car’s.

To be specific, you need a T-One Vehicle Wiring Harness with a 4-Pole Flat Trailer Connector from Tow Ready.

Start out by opening the back hatch and removing the cover of the rear cargo area and removing some plastic bits on either side as well as the inner doors on entire ride.

Then get a screw driver to pry off the plastic trim right at the outside. remove some screws and bolts along the outside of the doors and make sure to keep all parts on hand so that you can put them back later.

Gently pull out the section of trim so that you can get your hand into the side area. You’ll need to do the same thing to the driver’s side after you’ve done it to the passenger’s side.

Unplug the back connection to the lights by squeezing in on the small white locking pad and pulling out. Pull your wires through the unlocked plastic and plug it into the tail light backside and outside.

Do the same on the passenger side and disconnect the white box.

wire crimperConnect in part of the T connector you bought instead and run it behind the plastic panels. Do this on both sides. Screw some stuff around and attach some wires by clenching stuff on other stuff for a while. Then you have to run a wire underneath the car and spool it around some stuff. Eventually you want to make an incision in a little plug because you need to run a wire through then stuff it back up into the car. Now you can pull that wire up, cut it, put a little cap thing on it, put another wire on the other end, put it all together, tape the thing to the inside of the car’s lining.

Use an electrical tester and make sure that all your stuff is working and then you’re all set! You didn’t think you could do it but you can, good for you. I don’t understand what just happened at all. Let’s try it again.

The installation generally takes 30 minutes to an hour. You need a ratchet, an extension, a 12mm socket, a 10 mm socket, a wire crimper/stripper, a phillips screwdriver, and a trim fastener removal tool.

More on this later, we’ll figure it out team.

 

Ford announced today that it has begun testing its autonomous vehicles in snow and icy conditions, an industry first.

McityTo conduct these tests, Ford will be using Mcity, a 32-acre simulated urban environment that was developed in collaboration with the University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center.

“Roughly 70 percent of U.S. residents live in regions that get some now or other inclement weather,” stated a Ford spokesperson.

Jim McBride is Ford’s technical leader for autonomous vehicles.

“We expect the car to be able to drive in most if not all of the weather that a human can drive in,” he explained. “We need to monitor the sensors so that these can determine when conditions are deteriorating and it simply isn’t safe for anyone- including a self-driving car- to drive.”

“There are thousands of things an autonomous car must do, and that includes planning ahead to safely stop the car and when to know when it isn’t safe to drive.”

McBride brings up a tough judgment call an autonomous car can make that isn’t often brought up when the advantages of autonomous driving are made: sometimes human drivers simply will not accept that they shouldn’t be driving at all. If a car can make that tough call, that could avoid a lot of tragedies in the future.

Ford began testing its automobile in the snow as soon as Michigan’s winter turned wicked. It then debuted its findings in an auto show in Detroit.

“Other auto and tech companies primarily have been testing in the ideal weather conditions of central California,” Ford explained.

Pater Harrop, chairman of IDTechEx, viewed the video Ford posted of its autonomous vehicle navigating in the snow:

snowy road“Automakers need to understand that a car will face problems like drifting leaves or snow blowing across the road. These are things that the car must be trained to understand, and this makes it important to test in real world conditions… If you know the problems, it is easier to understand a solution, and this can’t be accomplished just from wind tunnels or artificially iced-over testing facilities.”

Marianna Saenko, analyst for autonomous systems 2.0 research at Lux research, agrees with Harrop:

“The real world is going to throw a curve ball at you that you didn’t expect, especially in weather, and that makes Mcity very unique for autonomous vehicle development.”

This train of logic has been a part of why Mcity has proven such a useful tool.

“The very reason Mcity was opened and a five-mile test track was set up for autonomous driving testing was to test the vehicles in dynamic weather to study/analyze sensor performance in a variety of conditions, especially vision and Lidar,” explained Praveen Chanrasekar, automotive and transportation research manager at Frost & Sullivan.

“Just testing in California might give the vehicles enough data to react to heavy traffic congestion scenarios, but dynamic weather testing is required to calibrate sensors and get the best performance in order to understand how many Lidar versus camera radar is required for urban and highway automation.”

Probably be not, but this article will address the idea.

The issue of cars being powered by wind power is more a question of sociological and cultural shifts in habits and thinking than one of supply and demand; meaning it’s even less likely to occur in the near future or potentially ever.

Massachusetts Institute of Technlogy professor Stephen Connors has actually looked into the quesiton; his specialty is alternative energy and electricity generation, so he has considered wind power as a method of fueling the electricity for an electric vehicle.

wind turbine“The big issue with electric vehicles is people want to charge overnight,” Connors explained. Because most electricity is produced with the use of steam turbines fired through gas, coal or petroleum, there’s a clear way to store up energy at night; you just keep the system moving. This way surplus energy can build up at 3:00 am when most people’s appliances and devices aren’t running. This works well for any electronic vehicle owner, who can plug into the grid at night while he or she sleeps.

Wind power, unfortunately, does not allow for this surplus charge to form. The wind is not reliant on a predictable, clocklike pattern. It’s as variable as the weather, so no guarantees can be made that your EV would be powered in the morning after a still and peaceful night.

“There’s quite a mismatch in patterns with charging electric vehicles and when wing energy becomes available,” explained Connors. Wind power runs on a schedule that involves seasonal changes and day to day patterns. These trends dictate the more immediate wind energy production, so while wind power may be able to supplement an electric vehicle’s charging station’s source of electricity, it could never be a reliable source of energy alone.

“This seasonal component doesn’t meet the needs currently,” confirmed Connors.

stephen connorsThis will always be true, assuming certain aspects of human culture will always remain the same. Cars would need to be expected to be owned by private owners, and most adults would need to be continued to be expected to own cars everywhere other than the most walkable American cities New York City, San Francisco, etc.). It would also need to be a relatively unnecessary conversion from gas-electric power to wind-electric power. If solar power were to fail and gas became too expensive to be a feasible way of fueling a car, wind power technology might expand considerably faster than expected.

For the time being, Connors and his colleagues don’t think wind powered cars would ever become a thing until at least 2050.

Even more disheartening to the wind powered car efforts is the fact that the country’s electricity producers would have to create about 16 trillion kilowatt hours of energy per day to achieve roughly the same energy level as is produced by the gasoline consumed in the same period.

Gas powered vehicles are king for a reason, but plenty of people think that as technology develops, the reign of oil may be drawing to a close. For the sake of our environment, we’ll have to hope they’re correct.

Whether it’s a car, a truck, a bus or an airplane, most vehicles humans have invented turn fuel into power by mixing it with air and burning it in metal cylinders inside their engines. Yes, there is considerable variation in terms of how much fuel and air an engine of any of these vehicles needs at any given moment, but the basic foundations of how the movement is achieved remains extremely similar.

Still, this variation needs to be accounted for. How much fuel you need relies on how fast you’re going at a given moment (think of mileage: there’s always a different miles-per-gallon rating for cars in the city [where they typically don’t go too much faster than 40 MPG] and on the highway [where they typically go over 60 MPG]). So how do we account for this?

More modern methodology includes a new electronically controlled system called fuel injection, which regulates the fuel-air mixture so it’s always right for how fast you want to go. However, this device is a newer development.

The OG technology for this purpose is called a carburetor. Let’s see how it works.

carburetor2First off, keep in mind that engines turn liquid fuel into movement by combusting it in cylinders and using the heat energy to power the car’s gearbox and thus its wheels. However, the fuel isn’t the only important component. With a car engine, you need the proper balance of air and fuel if you don’t want to do harm to the engine. That’s what the carburetor ensures.

A carburetor is a tube that allows air and fuel into the engine by utilizing valves. The valves help the carburetor to mix the air and fuel in a variety of proportions best suited to the speed at which the drier is attempting to drive.

Here’s what the simplest possible one would look like: it’d be a large vertical pipe above the engine cylinders with a horizontal fuel pipe joined onto one side. As the air flows down the pipe, it has to pass through a narrow kink in the middle, which makes it speed up and causes its pressure to fall. This kinked section is called a venturi. The falling pressure of the air creates a sucking effect that draws air in through the fuel pipe at its side.

basic carburetorThe airflow then pulls in fuel to join it; now you have a air-fuel mixture, but how do you manipulate how much fuel is actively entering the cylinder? The carburetor has two swiveling valves above and below the venturi as well as a valve called the choke at the top of the cylinder that regulates how much air can flow in.

If the choke is closed, less air flows down through the pipe and the venturi sucks in more fuel, allowing for a fuel-rich texture. That’s necessary for when the engine has just been turned on.

Beneath the venturi is a second valve called the throttle. The more the throttle is open, the more air flows through the carburetor and the more fuel it drags in from the pipe to the side. With more fuel and air flowing in, the engine releases more energy and makes more power and the car goes faster. This helps you to accelerate. Alright, that’s all you get!

Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently revealed information about the future of the Model S’s Autopilot feature during a quarterly financial call. Musk announced that more constraints will be programmed into the app in an attempt to keep people from “doing crazy things.”reese and friends

“Crazy things” have been being reported since Autopilot was first released. For example, an Electric Vehicle record-setting trio used the feature to drive from Redondo Beach, California to Manhattan in 57 hours and 48 minutes. Apparently drivers Carl Reese, Deena Mastracci and Alex Roy drove around 90 mph and had the autopilot mode engaged 96% of the time. Allegedly they spent most of that time with their hands off the wheel.

Reese, Mastracci and Roy aren’t the only Tesla owners experimenting with Autopilot. Musk claimed that around 40,000 Model S owners already had purchased some form of the Autopilot app, meaning that up to 1 million miles are being driven a day with the help of the Autopilot feature. “Early data is very positive,” he reported, “we’re very aware of many accidents that were prevented by Autopilot, and not aware of any that were caused by Autopilot.”

Tesla investors must be happy to hear that Autopilot hasn’t caused any accidents given the recent trend for autopilot and self-driving car developers to accept liability for any crashes caused by cars operating under their software.uber video

One avoided accident was famously caught on video by an Uber driver in Seattle that somehow owns a Tesla. The video is shot from driver’s point of view and films a car as it unexpectedly pulls into the driver’s lane. The Tesla screeches to a stop, avoiding a head-on collision. According to the driver, he had been scanning the traffic moving in his direction and his foot never even touched the breaks. The video was released only two weeks after Tesla’s autopilot feature hit the public and can be found on nbcnews.com and Youtube.

Perhaps because no accidents have actually been caused yet, Tesla spokeswoman Khobi Brooklyn isn’t too worried about the misuse of autopilot:

“It’s so cool to see Model S owners get out there and use this groundbreaking technology. The more people who use it, the better it will get.”

Still, she extends a warning to Autopilot’s abusers: “Having said that, today’s Autopilot features are designed to provide hands-on experience to give drivers more confidence behind the wheel, increase their safety on the road, and make highway driving more enjoyable. Drivers can’t abdicate responsibility, we expect the driver to be present and prepared to take over at any time.”

Even Elon Musk ultimately ended up tweeting support of the cross-country trio: “Congrats on driving a Tesla from LA to NY in just over two days!”

I suppose the company and its customers are enjoying their legal immunity while they can; laws regarding autonomous driving don’t even exist yet, which was why Tesla was able to release self-driving cars in the first place.

The whole issue is an example of one of the largest and most entertaining problems of the tech boom in America: huge amounts of unprecedented and revolutionary technological advances are being made during a time of the worst governmental partisan gridlock the United States has ever seen.  New technology is creating legal grey areas faster than our government can make decisions… very strange times!