Science

Driverless Cars Could Save A Million Lives Annually

Posted in Car Tech, driving, Pop Culture, Science by Kurt Ernst | April 12th, 2011 | 8 Responses |

According to Sebastian Thrun, the engineer behind Google’s driverless car project, up to one million lives could be saved in the United States each year if we just left the driving to sensor equipped, computer controlled pods. Humans, it seems, aren’t very good at mastering the complex processes (like paying attention to traffic ahead, or yielding the left lane) required to operate a motor vehicle in today’s fast-paced society. Keeping in constant contact with our peers via Twitter and instant messaging has become more important than mastering the skills required to drive a car proficiently, so one or the other has to go. Thrun insists that driverless cars would not only save lives, but would ensure quicker and more efficient transportation, reduce fuel consumption (and hence, pollution) and eliminate traffic jams. His ideas were presented at the recent TED Talks conference, and were backed up by data accumulated over 140,00 miles of autonomous, robot driving. Read More…

Today’s Science Lesson: How Headers Work

Posted in Cool Stuff, Featured, Horsepower, Science, Videos by Kurt Ernst | March 17th, 2011 | 4 Responses |

If you’ve ever turned wrenches on a car or a bike, chances are good that you’ve upgraded an exhaust system at one time or another. The cheap and easy way to do this is to replace the muffler, or (better yet) the exhaust system from the catalytic converter on back. The real horsepower gains come from replacing stock exhaust manifolds with headers, then replacing the entire exhaust system with a less restrictive one. Dyno data shows this to be an effective way to add horsepower to almost any vehicle, but do you know why this works? The video below shows how it works and even (briefly) explains why; think of it as science class for those of us with dirt under our fingernails. Read More…

Magic $1.50/gallon Fuel

Posted in Environment, News, Oil Industry, Science by Dustin Driver | February 14th, 2011 | 2 Responses |

Announcing that you’ve just invented synthetic fuel that produces zero carbon emissions and costs just $1.50 a gallon is a great way to get oil company commandos to burn down your house. But that’s just what a company in the U.K. has done. Cella Energy, an advanced materials lab, says it can turn hydrogen into a fuel that’ll free the world from grasp of fossil fuels. Read More…

Safe Roads, Cars, Drive Commuters to Take Risks

Posted in FAIL, People, Safety, Science by Dustin Driver | January 7th, 2011 | Leave a Reply |

It’s just as we’ve always suspected: Uninspiring automotive appliances and arrow-straight, hyper-safe roads drive commuters to sheer boredom, turning driving into a chore and making drivers inattentive and dangerous on the road. The cure? Make cars and roads dangerous again.

Source: Autoblog, Toronto Sun

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Like To Drive? Enjoy It While You Can

Posted in auto industry, Car Tech, Cars, Environment, Fuel-efficient, Hybrid, Legal, Newsworthy, Science by Kurt Ernst | September 24th, 2010 | 4 Responses |
2011 Ford Mustang GT

Want to buy a muscle car? Don't wait too much longer. Photo: Ford Motor Company

One of the more interesting topics in pit lane conversation during last weekend’s CTS-V driving event was the growth of hybrid offerings from virtually all car manufacturers. As enthusiasts, most of us had a common opinion: hybrids were a knee-jerk reaction from manufacturers, scrambling to comply with upcoming Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements. The new standards set by the current administration call for a CAFE of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016; to put things in perspective, current CAFE requirements call for 30.2 mpg for passenger cars and 24.1 mpg for light trucks. Fines for manufacturers who don’t meet these standards (Porsche or Ferrari, for example) are reasonable today, but will rise to as much as $10,000 per vehicle sold by 2016. In other words, hybrids are seen as the best way to meet these Draconian standards in just four years. One problem: to an enthusiast, current production hybrids aren’t nearly as satisfying or entertaining to drive as their fossil-fuel-only siblings.

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Bad News For The Paranoid: TPMS Sensors Are A Gateway For Hackers

Posted in auto industry, Car Tech, Cars, Electronics, General, Safety, Science by Kurt Ernst | August 12th, 2010 | 2 Responses |

TPMS Sensors

Most people don’t give much thought to the tire pressure monitoring systems used on production vehicles starting in 2007. When the light on the dashboard illuminates, you know it’s time to check your air pressure; aside from that, TPMS is largely ignored by most drivers. That may not be the case for hackers, as a group from the University of South Carolina and Rutgers University has proven that a car’s ECU can be accessed via the tire pressure monitoring system.

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NHTSA Addresses Congress, Finds No Evidence Of Faulty Electronics In Toyota Vehicles

Posted in auto industry, Cars, Crash Testing, Crashes, Detroit, General, Newsworthy, Popular Cars, Recalls, Safety, Science, Toyota by Kurt Ernst | August 11th, 2010 | Leave a Reply |

The NHTSA is finally starting to release details that would clarify the cause behind “unintended acceleration” of Toyota vehicles. In a briefing before Congress, NHTSA officials presented data on 58 crashes involving Toyota vehicles, where owners claimed sudden, unintended acceleration. Here’s the breakdown by case:

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Japanese Inventor Designs Common Gas, Brake Pedal. Disaster Looms.

Posted in Bizarre, Car Accessories, car modifications, Car Tech, Conversion Kits, Crashes, Design, General, Safety, Science by Kurt Ernst | August 6th, 2010 | 2 Responses |

Japanese Inventor Designs Common Gas, Brake Pedal. Disaster Looms.

Masuyuki Naruse always believed that the two pedal arrangement for the accelerator and brake pedals was a bad idea. In his eyes, it’s human nature to stomp downward in a panic situation, which led him to develop an innovative gas and brake pedal combination some 20 years ago. With Naruse’s design, there’s no way a driver can confuse the gas for the brake; in a conventional layout, this happens with some regularity, usually with disasterous results. You could ask the NHTSA for details about this, but don’t expect a straight answer since it might vindicate Toyota.

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Intel Builds Web Connected Car: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

Posted in auto industry, Car Tech, Design, General, Newsworthy, Science by Kurt Ernst | July 9th, 2010 | Leave a Reply |

In the future according to technology giant Intel, cars will become very smart, much like HAL the computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Equipped with sensors, data recorders and the ability to communicate wirelessly from vehicle to vehicle, Intel’s car of the future will report potholes to municipal authorities, block drivers from going the wrong way down a one way street and can even work with onboard cameras to determine street names and provide ‘hands on’ navigation. Should you be unfit to drive (maybe that second bottle of wine wasn’t a good idea after all), the Intel based car could, in theory, have the ability to get you home safely.

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Flying Cars May Be A Reality After All: Meet The Terrafugia Transition

Posted in Car Tech, Concept Cars, Cool Stuff, General, Newsworthy, Science by Kurt Ernst | June 30th, 2010 | 2 Responses |
Terrafugia Transition

Photo: Terrafugia

Remember all those issues of Popular Science that told us we’d be driving flying cars by the year 2000? Sure, the bastards lied to us, but flying cars may soon be a reality thanks to some flexibility from the FAA.

The Terrafugia Transition, pictured above, represents our best hope for a flying car. Until recently, it was just a prototype, uncertified by the FAA for flight. Why? Because in order to meet vehicle safety requirements such as crumple zones, air bags and steel door beams, the Transition was too heavy to be a “light sport aircraft”. In a rare moment of compassion, the FAA granted an exception to the Transition, allowing it into the light sport aircraft classification despite being overweight by 110 pounds.

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