Concept cars are nothing new. They’re utilized by auto manufacturers to gauge public response to body-styles, used as platforms for new technology and ideas, and sadly, rarely ever see the light of day as real vehicles. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Daimler-Chrysler has seemingly been turning more of their concepts into production vehicles than any other manufacturer.
Daimler-Chrysler released their latest concept car at the Geneva Auto Show - the 2007 Dodge Hornet. Bearing a striking resemblance to both the modern Mini Cooper and Suzuki Swift vehicles, the Hornet is designed as Dodge’s new low-cost vehicle (below the Caliber). Small enough for the European market, but big enough for the U.S., the Hornet is equipped with a supercharged 170hp engine that will zip it from 0-to-60 in approximately 6.7 seconds (firmly in Mini Cooper territory). The grille has Dodge’s trademark look, while the rest of the exterior and interior speak of European influences.
Will the Hornet make it to market? Only time will tell, but given Chrysler’s past track record there’s a good chance. Estimated sticker price will be below that of the Dodge Caliber (which lists for $13,985).
It’s been said that if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door. While that may have been true some years ago, in today’s ever mobile world, the proverbial mousetrap is now the battery. Electronic devices of all kinds require power, and if it’s not plugged into the wall, that power has traditionally been supplied by the humble battery. Fuel cell technology, while promising, isn’t quite ready for primetime yet so batteries are still center stage. With the battery industry worth billions of dollars, it’s no wonder that companies are always vying to outdo one another for dominance.
With the introduction of the M1, A123 Systems has introduced a remarkable upgrade to the Li-Ion battery. In comparison to a standard Li-Ion cell they’ve been able to double the power density, increase the peak power fivefold, and significantly reduce the time required for charging. Those gains have been accomplished by shrinking the size of the particles that coat the battery’s electrodes from 5-20 microns (standard Li-Ion) to below 100 nanometers for the new M1. Another benefit to the technology is safety. A typical Li-Ion cell when penetrated will explode, whereas an M1 cell will merely emit smoke.
One of the first adopters to bring the M1 technology to market is DeWalt. Their new line of 36-volt power tools have batteries that weigh the same as competitor’s 18-volt products, yet deliver more power and longer runtimes. While DeWalt’s application is all well and good, A123 Systems have their sights set firmly on the automotive industry. For example, the 100-lb battery in a Toyota Prius could have it’s weight reduced by nearly 80% and a quick re-charge to 90% capacity would only take 5 minutes! Certainly a technology to keep an eye on.
Getting ready for NASCAR weekend? We have a racing related post that will knock your socks off. Although this has been out there for a while, I figured you race fans would really appreciate this. After all - this does qualify as not only gear, but the ultimate in gear, gadgetry and gaming. Check out what happens when too many engineers have nothing better to do, who also happen to love racing…
Read More | Racing Sim Video
You’ve seen it before. A bike rack with a cut chaincable laying on the ground, or a locked up wheel being the only portion of the bike left behind. To combat this, people resort to different approaches. Some use the latest in super-duper, titanium-impregnated, hardened-steel locks, and others remove a seat or a wheel (or two). Whatever your method, if somebody wants your bicycle badly enough, they’re going to get it. Unless of course, they can’t reach it. The Bike Tree is a Swiss invention that lifts your bicycle overhead and stores it under a protective canopy. Not only is your bike now protected from theft and vandalism, but from Mother Nature as well. A non-contact smart card allows an authorized user to retrieve their bicycle and go about their merry way. The Bike Tree can also be utilized as a bike rental facility, and since it can be solar powered, is easy to implement no matter the location.
Doesn’t it just make you feel sad to see the ultimate in automove excellence - an Enzo Ferrari - cracked up on the side of a mountain road? Yeah, we thought so. Seems this genius figured he would see if the needle on the speedo could actually see 200+ mph. I guess he forgot that he was on the PCH and not the Autobahn. Way to waste a million bucks. Lets see…how many cool toys could be buy for that much coin?
Read More | LA Times
In the spirit of all things gadget related, we thought this would qualify as something you would want to see. This Evil Knievel Female just happened to have her video camera running when Mr. Fast and Furious wannabe decided to get sideways in front of her. Needless to say, she didn’t have much room to maneuver and here’s the result. A quick warning - we don’t recommend you try this at home kiddies, it could leave a mark or two if you know what we mean. At least she was sportin’ some leather and a helmet for the ultimate in safety gadgetry. You go girl…
Biometrics do have their disadvantages, but the technology is undeniably cool. Automotive Technology Research and Development (ATRD) has brought biometrics into your car as an aftermarket option to help deter vehicle theft with the Biometric Immobiliser. The premise is simple enough - you have a fingerprint reader that is placed in an easily accessible location and positive identification of your finger is required before the car can be started. The brains of the Immobiliser are in a steel enclosure designed to be hidden away within the car, and the unit is capable of working as a stand-alone device or in conjunction with an existing alarm system.
Flying cars aren’t exactly science fiction, but they certainly aren’t something you see every day either. While there have been many attempts, and many failures, some concepts have had rudimentary success at least in function if not in sales (Moller SkyCar as an example). A start-up company called Terrafugia is determined to create a flying car that is street legal, flyable as a light sport craft, has practical value, and is marketable to a wide audience. Known as the Transition, the car currently only exists on paper and in the minds of it’s designers, but is slated to be available in prototype form by 2008. With heavy backing from MIT, Terrafugia appears to be aware of the pitfalls associated with the concept of flying cars, and plans on marketing the Transition by telling prospective buyers both the pros and cons.
With the need for a sport pilot license and an estimated street price of $148,000 the Transition won’t be for everyone, but may open the doors to future concepts that are.
No, that’s not a go-kart sized version of the Prius, it’s a Mac mini running through the on-board display of a Toyota Prius! Nice hack by a post from a member of the MacVroom forums. Dr. FrankenMac has almost brought this beast to life, but still has a few bugs to iron out…
So my goal was to get a mac working on my Prius’s MFD display, and be able to use it’s touch screen to control the front end (currently Front Row)
I don’t have audio hooked up, figured the video would be the hardest part.
I’m going through a Can-View which normally is just used for display the car’s CAN data http://hybridinterfaces.ca/, but has RGB+S in and outputs the MFD’s touchscreen through a serial cable.
I tried using SwitchResX to output the 640x480 at 15.75khz with no luck (got it working with powerstrip on a pc) Ended up buying a used scan converter off of ebay that outputs RGB+S.
Wrote a perl script to listen to the serial port (keyspan USB->serial converter) and sends Front Row commands through apple script. Broke the screen up into a 3x3 grid (9 boxes) Up, Down, Left, Right, center for enter/play/pause, and left top for menu/escape.
Here is what I have so far. This is just the prototype phase. I need to figure out audio, and then I’ll actually get a mac mini and try to hide all the components.
You can check out some of the images on his website. For the full scoop, check out the post on MacVroom.com.
Read More | MacVroom.com
For you fellow pilots reading Gearlive, here’s a treat for you. If you fly some of the lighter, single-engine bad boys, they can get pretty cramped in there. If cockpit space is at a premium, sometimes using the standard knee-board just tends to get in the way. Zuluworks has come up with with their miniZ kneeboard as a solution to our problems.
Made out of the same high-quality materials and superb craftsmanship as our regular boards, the Economy Mini-Z comes with no Zulucards and a blank flight pad. Standard model adds Five Mini Zulucards and 3 in 1 flight pad
* Repositioning clipboard system
* Rugged ballistic or stylish waxed canvas exterior
* Durable anodized aluminum back plate
* Clean, low profile clip aluminum clipboard
* Organizer post keep everything on your lap
* 50 sheet blank flight pad
* Breeze cheater strap keeps papers flat
* Multiple pen pockets
* Ventilated elastic knee strap
* Stable 4-point knee strap mounting
* Replaceable knee strap
Closed: 5.5” x 7.5” x 1.25”
Open: 11.25” x 7.5”
Clipboard: 4” x 5.9”
Read More | Flight Essentials