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Electric Highway of The Future (video)

The eHighway concept is the electrification of trucks and select highway lanes via overhead electrified wires similar to how modern day trolleys or streetcars are powered on many city streets. However, personally I do not believe this will be widely used as inductive charging also known as non-contact charging will gain ground. At least I hope it does because having wires all along highways seems so primitive.


Beautiful and Powerful: Audi's E-Bike Wörthersee

The prototype combines a electric and muscle power.

The airy frame boasts a low center of gravity and a compact overall volume. In this way, the e-bike is superbly agile at the sporty handling limits. The lithium-ion battery is incorporated into the frame and needs 2.5 hours to fully charge. On long trial tours, only a few simple steps are required to remove the battery and replace it with a charged one.
The frame and the swinging arm that holds the back wheel are made of carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP). The same material is used for the 26" wheels, which feature an innovative "Audi ultra blade" design with broad flat spokes for an optimized transmission of pedal power. "We were able to demonstrate with the choice of materials just how closely design goes hand in hand with expertise in ultra lightweight construction," Hendrik Schaefers comments.
The cyclist can choose between a total of five cycling modes – pure muscle power, the electric motor alone, or pedaling supported by the electric motor. In the "Pure" mode, the drive power is purely the product of the cyclist's legs, while in "Pedelec" mode you are supported by the electric motor that then makes speeds of up to 80 km/h (50 mph) possible and gives you a range of 50-70 kilometers (31-44 miles). If you select "eGrip", the Audi e-bike Wörthersee runs solely on the electric motor and can reach a top speed of 50 km/h (31 mph). The cyclist then controls forward momentum using a gripshift and can configure the power as desired using the computer.
The electric motor is located at the lowest point on the frame and drives the bottom bracket shaft directly. The maximum torque delivered to the rear wheel is 250 Nm (184.39 lb-ft). The electric motor generates a maximum output of 2.3 kW, a new world best for e-bikes. The complete bike excluding electrical components weighs in at 11 kg (24.25 lb), equivalent to a power-to-weight ratio of 9 kg (19.84 lb) per kilowatt, or 7 kg (15.43 lb) per horsepower – another record-breaking value.
When performing wheelies, an electronic control system support the rider when performing tricks and back-wheel biking. Different modes can be set using a smartphone or directly on the e-bike – either "Power Wheelie" mode, with adjustable wheelie angle for less skilled bikers or "Balanced Wheelie" mode for sporting challenges. In "Balanced Wheelie" mode, the electronic control system maintains the rider's balance, by compensating the biker's movements forwards or backwards via the electric motor. This means the rider can influence the bike's speed by shifting weight: if you lean forwards the bike picks up speed, and if you lean back it slows. You select "Training" mode if you want to keep your performance constant for training purposes.

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New Mini John Cooper Works GP unveiled

Spy shots pretty much said it's coming, and here it is: the new Mini John Cooper Works GP. It's making an appearance at the Mini United Festival in France this weekend, and while Mini has yet to detail specific power numbers or show off the car's interior, it has produced a Nurburgring time: 8 minutes, 23 seconds, which, as we reported back in April, betters the last Mini GP (circa 2006) by 19 seconds.

Like its predecessor, the GP-spec hardtop loses its back seat for weight reduction, gets a full complement of power and suspension upgrades, including a race-spec suspension and brakes, and sports exclusive aero tweaks, wheels and graphics to differentiate itself from "regular" JCW models. Figure on a power figure north of the 214 horses the last GP produced (standard JCW Minis make 208 hp right now). Only 2,000 of the new Mini JCW GPs will be built and sold globally.

Given that the regular John Cooper Works models are fairly marvelous as is, the GP should be deliriously fun. No pricing yet, but since a loaded-up John Cooper Works easily runs into the high-$30K range now, we'd expect the limited-production GP to skip right past the $40,000 mark.

Now, when are they unveiling the GP Coupe?


Saab PhoeniX concept previews future design themes for the brand

The rebirth of the Saab brand under Spyker Cars took a step forward on Tuesday with the reveal of the PhoeniX concept at the Geneva motor show.
Saab says the PhoeniX uses the platform for the next generation of the 9-3, as well as providing hints of the brand's future styling themes under design chief Jason Castroita. Saab calls the design "aeromotional."
The PhoeniX has a 0.25 coefficient of drag and uses winglets mounted on the sides to help manage airflow.

And it is just as radical under the skin. The PhoeniX uses a parallel hybrid setup, with an electrically driven rear axle and a 200-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter engine.
Butterfly doors open to reveal 2+2 seating. There are no exterior mirrors or door handles; that helps cut wind noise and resistance.
The instrument panel is fitted with Saab's IQon car communication setup, which runs the Google Android operating system used by smartphones. Saab says IQon connects to the Internet whenever the car is started.

The Jets of the Future

NASA asked the world’s top aircraft engineers to solve the hardest problem in commercial aviation: how to fly cleaner, quieter and using less fuel. The prototypes they imagined may set a new standard for the next two decades of flight.


Target Date: 2025
Passenger jets consume a lot of fuel. A Boeing 747 burns five gallons of it every nautical mile, and as the price of that fuel rises, so do fares. Lockheed Martin engineers developed their Box Wing concept to find new ways to reduce fuel burn without abandoning the basic shape of current aircraft. Adapting the lightweight materials found in the F-22 and F-35 fighter jets, they designed a looped-wing configuration that would increase the lift-to-drag ratio by 16 percent, making it possible to fly farther using less fuel while still fitting into airport gates.
They also ditched conventional turbofan engines in favor of two ultrahigh-bypass turbofan engines. Like all turbofans, they generate thrust by pulling air through a fan on the front of the engine and by burning a fuel-air mixture in the engine’s core. With fans 40 percent wider than those used now, the Box Wing’s engines bypass the core at several times the rate of current engines. At subsonic speeds, this arrangement improves efficiency by 22 percent. Add to that the fuel-saving boost of the box-wing configuration, and the plane is 50 percent more efficient than the average airliner. The additional wing lift also lets pilots make steeper descents over populated areas while running the engines at lower power. Those changes could reduce noise by 35 decibels and shorten approaches by up to 50 percent.—Andrew Rosenblum

Target Date: 2030
The first era of commercial supersonic transportation ended on November 26, 2003, with the final flight of the Concorde, a noisy, inefficient and highly polluting aircraft. But the dream of a sub-three-hour cross-country flight lingered, and in 2010, designers at Lockheed Martin presented the Mach 1.6 Supersonic Green Machine. The plane’s variable-cycle engines would improve efficiency by switching to conventional turbofan mode during takeoff and landing. Combustors built into the engine would reduce nitrogen oxide pollution by 75 percent. And the plane’s inverted-V tail and under wing engine placement would nearly eliminate the sonic booms that led to a ban on overland Concorde flights.
The configuration mitigates the waves of air pressure (caused by the collision with air of a plane traveling faster than Mach 1) that combine into the enormous shock waves that produce sonic booms. “The whole idea of low-boom design is to control the strength, position and interaction of shock waves,” says Peter Coen, the principal investigator for supersonic projects at NASA. Instead of generating a continuous loop of loud booms, the plane would issue a dull roar that, from the ground, would be about as loud as a vacuum cleaner.—Andrew Rosenblum

Target Date: 2035

The best way to conserve jet fuel is to turn off the gas engines. That’s only possible with an alternative power source, like the battery packs and electric motors in the Boeing SUGAR Volt’s hybrid propulsion system. The 737-size, 3,500-nautical-mile-range plane would draw energy from both jet fuel and batteries during takeoff, but once at cruising altitude, pilots could switch to all-electric mode [see Volta Volare GT4]. At the same time Boeing engineers were rethinking propulsion, they also rethought wing design. “By making the wing thinner and the span greater, you can produce more lift with less drag,” says Marty Bradley, Boeing’s principal investigator on the project. The oversize wings would fold up so pilots could access standard boarding gates. Together, the high-lift wings, the hybrid powertrain and the efficient open-rotor engines would make the SUGAR Volt 55 percent more efficient than the average airliner. The plane would emit 60 percent less carbon dioxide and 80 percent less nitrous oxide. Additionally, the extra boost the hybrid system provides at takeoff would enable pilots to use runways as short as 4,000 feet. (For most planes, landing requires less space than takeoff.) A 737 needs a minimum of 5,000 feet for takeoff, so the SUGAR Volt could bring cross-country flights to smaller airports.—Rose Pastore


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Dubai’s underwater discus hotel lets you sleep in a high-tech aquarium

 Sleep with the fishes, dine with the sharks. Now you can literally do both when the Underwater Hotel premiers in Dubai.

Without a doubt, Dubai is one of the hottest exotic destinations with amazing skyscrapers and luxury amenities to rival even the most modern cities from the rest of the world. Now, a Polish architecture design firm has unveiled a new hotel concept that will make use of space below the ground, giving guests the ability to sleep underwater while enjoying the marine landscape.
Deep Ocean Technology (DOT)’s Underwater Hotel is shaped like a spaceship found in most sci-fi movies, except the hotel rooms plunge 21 stories underwater. The rooms will contain panoramic glass windows that offer views below the Persian Gulf, allowing guests to feel like they are sleeping inside a 24-hour aquarium with local flora and fauna right outside the other side of the wall. The windows are even equipped with special lighting and macro photography sensors so guests can zoom into even the smallest creatures for detailed look at their colors, patterns, and movements.
The hotel will also include other amenities such as a diving and water sports center, spa, helipad, and an above ground terrace should guests feel a bit claustrophobic stuck inside the discus all day. It is also located a short distance from a beach if you really prefer to feel some actual ground.

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