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If you're someone who likes your privacy, this news won't be good for you. Federal regulators are proposing that all new automobiles sold in the US after September 2014 to come featured with a black box.
These black boxes, or as they're called "event data recorders", record everything a driver does. From the speed the car is going, the number of people in the car, and the location of the car itself at all times. You do have a chance to have your voice heard, where on February 11, the National Transportation Safety Agency will hear your comments on its proposal that will see them pushed into all vehicles.
Congress has donned the agency with the power to set the motor safety rules. The regulators' intentions are for safety - but they can be used for much worse things - such as data collection. During "events", such as a car accident, the black box would record all of the last-minute happenings such as sudden breaking, acceleration, swerving or anything else that might lead up to, or cause an accident.
Back to the Future is one of my favorite movies, but I've never been a big fan of Lego. Well, it looks like Lego have announced Back to the Future merchandise, some thirty years since the movie's release.
Lego have officially approved and will provide the above Back to the Future Delorean set which they've taken to their own Kickstarter-like page, Lego Cuusoo.
On Lego Cuusoo, fans have the ability to design and create Legos and once 10,000 other fans endorse it, it officially goes up to the Lego review board. Lego have announced that the BTTF design has been approved, and will see a 2013 release.
Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed that auto manufacturers be required to install "black box" data recorders into all new cars and light trucks beginning on September 1, 2014. However, this proposal isn't fully needed as most manufacturers already include these in some form.
The real issue is the protections of this data. If the government is requiring logging of all this data, there needs to be protections put in place, argue some. The information gathered usually only consists of the last 5 to 10 seconds before a crash and includes information such as speed, whether the brake was applied, steering inputs and a variety of other metrics.
The information can be used to help design safer vehicles as well as determine fault in an accident. However, these black boxes don't tell the full story because they don't record what's going on outside, such as weather, animals, or other potentially dangerous events.
"Basically your car is a computer now, so it can record all kinds of information," said Gloria Bergquist, vice president of the Alliance of Automotive Manufacturers. "It's a lot of the same issues you have about your computer or your smartphone and whether Google or someone else has access to the data."
Technology in vehicles truly is "the next iPhone" in terms of helping us with our day-to-day lives... but Volvo have some grand plans for the future. The automaker is already one of the safest car producers in the world, but their latest statements should build excitement for a lot of people.
Volvo would like to keep this reputation, by introducing technology into their vehicles that would avoid passenger injuries on their own by 2020 - yes, by the end of this decade, just over eight years from now.
The head of development for the program has said that the driver-less cars are the future and that Volvo will be the first one there. Volvo's herbs and spices to reach this lofty goal is wireless Internet, which enables the cars to be assigned a certain point on the road, and give different vehicles the ability to interact with one another.
Volvo are to release a bunch of autonomous vehicles in 2014, which will be capable of speeds of up to 31 miles per hour.
Japan unveils prototype that will offer 311mph train that floats above its track, powered by magnets
Last week, the Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) unveiled a new prototype that is capable of delivering the fastest train service to Japan. The Series Lo prototype is powered by magnetic levitation (maglev), where the train will float above the tracks thanks to the power of magnets.
The new train will run from Tokyo to Nagoya and will reach speeds of 500kmph, or 311mph. The sad thing is, maglev-powered transportation has been around for over 100 years, with the first relevant patent issued all the way back in 1905.
There are currently two commercial systems in service today, the first of which began operation in Shanghai in 2004, which was followed by a Japanese system dubbed Linimo in 2005. Linimo is capable of just 60mph, just 20% of the speed of the proposed new maglev-powered train from JR Tokai.
Most people have heard about Google's self-driving cars, but they probably dismiss it as a fantasy that anything could ever come to reality. However, the fact is that these cars are being tested on California and Nevada roads and have logged over 300,000 miles without incident, unless you count that one in the parking lot when a human was driving.
Now, Google is looking to make the vehicles even safer and has hired the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration deputy director to help them in this quest. Ron Medford has an impressive resume and has worked in the government for more than 40 years, with his most recent job being deputy director of the NHTSA.
Google really wants to get these cars on the road and they will need to pass stringent safety testing if they are to be allowed. Bringing on Ron Medford is an important step to meet these requirements. Medford is both excited to be joining Google, he's also saddened by leaving the NHTSA, an agency that works to save lives:
"While I am excited to embark on this new adventure, I am deeply saddened to leave this agency and the many incredible staff who have committed your lives to making people safer on our roadways. I am at a loss for words to describe the emotion and gratitude I feel for the people I have come to know and admire at NHTSA," Medford wrote.
Our in-house storage editor, Chris Ramseyer, might just love this news, as he is a big fan of F1. Well, it looks as though the on-board cameras are about to get an injection of quality, with the standard-definition cameras being switched with high-def cameras.
The F1 broadcasts in HD, but the on-board cameras in the cars are much lower quality, technology has improved enough to consider putting HD cameras in the cars. Formula One Supporters Association talked to F1 journalist Christian Sylt, who had a look at future plans that include the possibility of HD cameras in the vehicles.
Also teased was multi-channel formats offering different views of the track and an interactive 3D replay feature. All of this might not happen, but we should expect some of it in the near future.
Los Angeles Metro, thanks to a $3.6 million contract with energy company VYCON, will capture and repurpose kinetic energy of their own trains. The new system is set to use flywheel technology, which will store energy generated by braking trains that enter the Westlake and MacArthur Station.
Once captured, it will use the energy to power their acceleration upon departure. VYCON claims that this new system will help reduce energy consumption, as well as lower power demands during peak train hours.
LA Metro already generates two megawatts using solar power, according to project manager Frank Castro. But this new Wayside Energy Storage Substation (WESS) will provide another two megawatts to the system. This is great to see, but it saddens me that it only involves a $3.6 million contract to get it going - for that money, every city in the United States should be incorporating this technology.
I'm based in Australia and Skyfall doesn't reach Aussie cinemas for another week yet, and I seriously can't wait. But this latest news, is that the production of Skyfall required a complete decimation of a classic 1960s era Aston Martin DB5.
Filmmakers wanted to go down a different route rather than just green screen it and had the movie studio contract the services of Augsburg-based 3D printing company Voxeljet, who made replicas of the sweet-looking ride. The company used a huge industrial VX4000 3D printer which spat out 1:3 scale models of the car, all so they could blow it into pieces.
The car was made up by 18 pieces, and were shipped to Propshop Modelmakers in London where they were assembled, painted, chromed and outfitted with fake bullet holes. The final product was used in Skyfall during a high-speed action sequence, resulting in the perfectly-made car blowing into smithereens.
Tesla have just received a huge grant from the California Energy Commission to the tune of $10 million, which will help the luxury electric car maker expand manufacturing capacity for their upcoming Model X SUV.
Tesla's terms of the agreement with Commission will match the $10 million grant, with $50 million if their own money and spend the entire lump sum to keep Model X production rates high when it reaches manufacturing in 2014. This plan involves the hiring of 700 more workers with the manufacturing starts.
If there are no problems between now and the production of the Model X SUV, Tesla will be much closer to their goal of producing a truly mainstream electric vehicle. The Model X SUV won't be that goal, but it is definitely getting closer. The new Model X SUV will hopefully fall into the same price range as the Model S, which ranges between $50,000 and $70,000. Tesla's VP of Finance, Mike Taylor, said:
Too often we're portrayed in the press as only producing an electric sports car. I think that misses the point of what Tesla Motors is trying to do and why it's important for California. Our mission has always been to aggressively promote electric vehicles for the masses.