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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.
If you were itching to use your phone to make some calls during a flight, you might want to take a look at Dubai-based Emirates, who have just started allowing passengers to use their phones to make calls on its A380 aircraft.
The service is compatible with normal phones in conjunction with OnAir, who is the company that provides Wi-Fi service for the airliner. There is a limitation, through Federal Aviation Administration rules, that the phones can't be used over the United States, where the service will cease working within 250 miles of US soil.
Emirates have been on the forefront of pushing technology in their aircraft for quite sometime, as they equipped their Airbus fleet with phones and fax machines all the way back in the 90s, and in 2006 the airline even offered in-seat e-mail and text messaging to all passengers. The first call with the new in-flight phone service was made on October 2, and was placed to China, said Emirates.
It was only last month that Google's self-driving cars hit 300,000 test miles without an accident, and now we're looking at California getting the self-driving cars hitting their roads. California governor, Jerry Brown, signed a new law that will see the cars hit Californian roads.
The new law signed in will see trials of the self-driving cars on California's roadways, with one condition - there has to be a licensed human in the driver's seat to take over in the case of an emergency. Brown said at the signing ceremony at Google's Mountain View-based HQ - "today we are looking at science fiction becoming tomorrow's reality".
Google did some modifications to a Toyota Prius, which sports video cameras, radar sensors, a laser rangefinder and detailed maps - using all of this data to drive itself. Google's self-driving vehicles also sport a failsafe mechanism that allows the driver to take control by grabbing the steering wheel or pressing the brakes.
I haven't travelled too much in my life, with my first big international trip being Computex earlier this year. But, I plan on getting onto many more planes in my future, and we're finally seeing the beginning stages of airlines accepting that offering in-flight Wi-Fi is a must.
The Verge are reporting from a memo to crew members that they "obtained", that the company is set to offer in-flight wireless networking early next year, with the memo stating:
Customers, especially those traveling for business, with everything else being equal, will choose the airline that offers connectivity, even if the service is spotty or expensive.
JetBlue have chosen to go with ViaSat for their in-flight Wi-Fi, ditching the idea of going with an option like Gogo, which the company says is slow and unsatisfactory. The Verge's source states that there will be an initial trial of the service, and after the trial the service will remain free for "basic email and browsing" purposes.