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Vol. XIII No.3 - Sunday february 9, 2014 - Saturday february 22, 2014


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Automania by Dr. Iain Corness
 

Safer vehicles - or just more things to go wrong?

I am typing this on someone else’s computer. Mine has decided it doesn’t want to play and I am unable to download anything. No self-diagnostic program available to help me. Computers are never my favorite toys right now, or is that “write now”?
Researching this article left me with the feeling that very soon, my mobile phone will be driving my car, and not me. In fact, VW has a system which allows you to park your car from the outside, using your mobile phone like the remote control for your TV set.
So here’s what is in store for the motorists in the next decade. These examples are not “concepts”, but the technology is here now. For many OEM’s, the integration of the new technologies is the only item slowing its adoption. That and the price, of course. In the competitive marketplace of today, the base cost is always a dilemma. The answer, however, is to make all the new technological applications delete options. And since the new car buyer is not really aware of what is coming, this makes it easier for the automaker.
If your car is equipped with a form of emergency brake assist, it already knows when it is too late for late braking. The technology is simple. It is easily programmed into the vehicle for it to appreciate how much traction it has, as well as how many meters it is going to take to brake in time to avoid an accident. However, if you are still too fast, further braking is too late. But this is where Emergency Steer Assist (ESA) comes in.
In this mode, the system does not take over and steer for you. Designed to compliment emergency braking systems, ESA works with your electric steering rack to vary the torque by direction, thus very convincingly “suggesting” the proper steering wheel motion. Suppose you need to swerve left - the torque in the clockwise motion is greatly increased (resistance), but it is very easy to turn the wheel counterclockwise. Similarly, during the maneuver recovery phase (you may know this as a tank slapper), the inverse is true, the steering working in tandem with ESC (electronic stability control, mandatory on all cars in Europe) to control the after effects of the swerve.
The future sees the automakers bringing apps to your dashboard. Continental showed its AutoLinQwith partners such as Navteq, Navigon, Shazam, Pandora and more lined up to bring the perks of your smartphone to your car.
Intelligent Tyre System/Fill Assist:
A new type of tyre sensor, mounted on the inner tyre tread (as opposed to the wheel), measures tyre pressure, temperature, g-force and load. It weighs only a few grams. When a heavy load is detected, for example, the system can notify the driver that more air pressure is needed to optimize gas mileage, handling and safety. The sensors also communicate with ABS and ESC, so that these systems can optimize for a given tyre pressure or vehicle load. Very much F1 technology brought to the daily traffic situations.
Select Your Drive Mode:
Continental is offering up a fully LCD interface to better broadcast differing personas. Sample modes are Eco, Comfort and Sport, but carmakers will be able to customize these profiles. Also, users will likely be able to create their own when the system goes on sale. Like current cars, just about every system is affected with each button push, including throttle mapping, suspension damping, steering feedback, and more.
The difference here is that the actual look of the instrument cluster changes as well - for example, in Eco mode, there is a four-leaf clover that can be “filled” green by driving economically. When all four leaves are green, the driver can head to the dealership for a reward. This, the company hopes, will not only encourage green driving, but will also drive online customers to physical dealerships. Also, the navigation will search for the most economical route, rather than the fastest or the shortest.
In Sport mode, red gauges and an accelerometer replace the green layout, and in Comfort, only the speedometer and relevant functions are shown. The system also works with the new Accelerator Force Feedback Pedal.
Yes, smartphone is going to dictate our lives in the future. Throw the old Motorola ‘brick’ away (it has been sold to China anyway), go Android and sit back and let Ann Droid drive you safely to your destination.


And here is an unsafe vehicle

The Green Monster.

One of my favorite characters in motor sports Art Arfons. He was the “designer” of a series of vehicles, which were all called “Green Monster” even though some were red, white and blue!
His most famous Green Monsters were powered by jet engines, normally powering airplanes, with one powered by an ex-F-104 Starfighter General Electric J79 jet engine, producing 78 kN static thrust with four-stage afterburner. The engine was purchased from a scrap dealer for $600 and rebuilt himself, over the objections of General Electric and the government, and despite all manuals for the engine being classified top secret.
After the rebuild, he tested it by tying it to trees in his garden, a procedure which drew complaints from his neighbors.


Nissan builds 400 BHP 40 kg three cylinder engine

Electric Le Mans racer.

Nissan has built a 1.5 liter three cylinder turbo gasoline engine that produces 400 horsepower from a 40 kg engine. That is a better power to weight than a Formula 1 engine.
The engine is destined for Le Mans in Nissan’s electric ZEOD RC but the accompanying internal combustion engine is set to revolutionize standards of performance and efficiency.
The Nissan ZEOD RC will become the first entry at Le Mans to complete a lap of the Circuit de la Sarthe under nothing but electric power in June. A single lap of each stint (a fuel “stint” lasts approximately one hour) will be electric powered. Then, the new Nissan DIG-T R 1.5 liter three cylinder turbo engine will take over.
The incredibly small engine weighs only 40 kilograms but produces an astonishing 400 horsepower. The base engine is only 500 mm tall x 400 mm long x 200 mm wide. Not quite hand luggage, but close!
Revving to 7,500 rpm, the Nissan DIG-T R produces 380 Nm of torque. At a ratio of 10 horsepower per kilogram, the new engine actually has a better power to weight ratio than the new engines to be used in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship this year.
With the entire concept of the Nissan ZEOD RC focusing heavily on downsizing and efficiency, Nissan turned to new lubricants partner Total to help develop the engine. The French lubricants manufacturer has worked closely with Nissan engineers to develop fuel and lubricants to maximize the potential of the engine.
The Nissan ZEOD RC will occupy “Garage 56” at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, an additional entry reserved by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest for new and ground breaking technologies never previously seen at the classic French endurance event.
Lessons learned from the development of the revolutionary racecar will also be used in the development of Nissan’s planned entry into the LMP 1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2015.
“Our engine team has done a truly remarkable job with the internal combustion engine,” said Darren Cox, Nissan’s Global Motorsport Director. “We knew the electric component of the Nissan ZEOD RC was certainly going to turn heads at Le Mans, but our combined zero emission on demand electric/petrol power plant is quite a stunning piece of engineering. Nissan will become the first major manufacturer to use a three cylinder engine in major international motorsport. We’re aiming to maintain our position as industry leaders in focusing on downsizing. Lessons learned from the development of the engine will be seen in Nissan road cars of the future. Our aim is to set new standards in efficiency in regards to every aspect of the car: powertrain, aerodynamics and handling. For the powertrain, we have worked closely with the team at Total to not only reduce friction inside the engine but within all components of the powertrain. Friction is the enemy of horsepower, and tackling that has been one of the efficiency targets we have concentrated on heavily.”
Both the gasoline and electric power plants run through the same five-speed gearbox that transfers power to the ground via Michelin tires.
The Nissan ZEOD RC will undergo an extensive test program over the next four months prior to it making its race debut at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours on June 14-15.


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Safer vehicles - or just more things to go wrong?

And here is an unsafe vehicle

Nissan builds 400 BHP 40 kg three cylinder engine

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