Archive for May, 2010
Toyota announces a gut-wrenching innovation: Crash test dummies with intestines. I remember the unappetizing times when crash tests were performed with (dead) pigs, or, even more gross, with human corpses (not for public consumption.) The crash test dummy changed all this. No species developed faster than the anthropomorphic test device, a.k.a. the crash test dummy. Now, it made a big leap forward.
From crude beginnings in the 70s, more and more sophisticated dummies evolved. The dummy had a wife. The dummies had children. Following generations progressed rapidly. As crashes were more and more computer simulated, computer simulated crash test dummies begun to populate the virtual world.
All the while, the crash test dummy species was haunted by a big problem: Lack of internal organs. Itâ€™s damage to internal organs that kills you, and those organs could not be easily replicated. Until now.
In the labs of Toyota city a humanoid was created that would make Dr. Frankenstein faint with envy. The new guy is called THUMS 4, as in Total HUman Model for Safety, version 4.
The adult male of average build has detailed models of internal organs, which sets him apart from previous iterations that were all bones and brain. The brain was added in the previous release.
According to Toyota, THUMS 4 will yield 14 times more information than the previous generation of dummies, and represents a quantum leap in the studies of internal injuries. Damages to internal organs account for approximately half of all injuries sustained during automobile collisions.
Soon, THUMS 4 will receive a wife and a larger male cousin. With all internal organs properly in place, a child should not be far off, and with the help of Toyota technicians, even more sophisticated generations will be bred.
Toyota will not keep THUMS 4 to themselves. In fall of 2010, you can place an order with Toyota Technical Development Corporation, a TMC subsidiary, and theyâ€™ll sell you one.
The plug-in aficionados of the Japan Electric Vehicle Club hit the track this weekend in a Daihatsu Mira Van with a 74 kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery to see how far they could go on a charge. The last time the crew attempted this feat in November 2009, they managed to squeeze out 345 miles before running out of juice.
This time out, the members reduced some mass with new features likes a carbon fiber seat and even lower rolling resistance tires from Toyo. The van used the same Sanyo battery as the previous record drive and continued rolling for an amazing 623 miles before running out of electrons.
Seventeen drivers participated in the 27.5-hour drive with an average speed of just under 25 miles per hour. While getting over 600 miles on a charge is certainly impressive, we aren’t likely to see many 74 kWh batteries in production vehicles any time soon thanks to their prohibitive cost. Plus, the driving style on the closed course was doubtlessly extremely conservative, which doesn’t bode well for real-world driving. Regardless, it’s quite a feat. A tip of the hat to Paul!
by Sam Abuelsamid of autoBlog
Thinking about zipping through that red light? Well, you wonâ€™t physically be able to if IBM has anything to say about it. The technology giantâ€™s recent patent application forÂ â€œA System and Method for Controlling Vehicle Engine Running State at Busy Intersections for Increased Fuel Consumption Efficiencyâ€ prevents cars from running red lights byâ€“get thisâ€“remotely stopping vehicle engines.
The patent describes a system that can receive position data from all vehicles waiting at traffic lights and send a â€œstop-engineâ€ notification to cars waiting for more than a specified amount of time. The patent explains, â€œThe method may comprise..responding to a proceed status indicated by the traffic signal, further comprising: sending a start-engine notification to a first vehicle in the queue; calculating an optimal time for an engine of a second vehicle in the queue to start when the first vehicle starts moving; and sending the start-engine notification to the second vehicle in the queue at the optimal time.â€
This seems at first glance like a simple way to prevent traffic accidents, but weâ€™re not thrilled about the idea of a traffic light having access to car engines. What happens if hackers get a hold of the system? And what if there are glitches? Weâ€™ll be watching to see if this patent application brings about any actual products.
How cool would it be if you could drive a car with your eyes? The answer: Very cool! Unless of course a good-looking member of the opposite sex happens to be walking by. Well, assuming you donâ€™t look astray, researchers at Freie UniversitÃ¤t Berlin have developed the eyeDriver software which can steer a car simply using eye movements.
Right now the software is in testing and is proving its concept, but it definitely works, as you can see in the video below. The driver wears a helmet with cameras mounted to it which capture the driverâ€™s eye movements. Those eye movements are then translated by a computer into directional signals.
I know the system will continue to undergo rigorous testing and modification, but there are already a few hang ups I can see. For one, parallel parking would likely be too cumbersome to attempt. Also, as I jokingly mentioned earlier, distractions could be deadly. Looking even for a second in the wrong direction at high speeds could cause many problems. It seems the team already has a solution for dealing with distractions, but with something as concerning as safety, this will indeed need to be perfected. It will be interesting to see how the team solves these problems, as the application could be critical for amputees, paralyzed individuals, and otherâ€™s for whom regular driving presents a problem.
Here it is in action:
A rally car driver wrecked his car in New Zealand, but it is the apparent cause of the accident that has drawn attention. According to Autoblog, Mark Tapper was distracted by a mooning bystander. “A very white bottom that was beside the road put me off for a fraction of a second, then I just ran wide and rolled,” he explained.
Tabloid Prodigy writes that Tapper “was poised to win” the race at the time of his butt-fueled wreck. Scroll down to see the crash in action.
MALIBU â€” A California teen who made headlines as a pioneering mountain climber could face charges for allegedly surfing up the Pacific Coast Highway on top of a car on his way to school.
Authorities say 18-year-old Johnny Strange of Malibu was photographed Wednesday by a bus passenger after climbing out of a BMW’s passenger window and standing on the car as it moved with traffic in a 50 mph zone.
Strange was later confronted by sheriff’s deputies in the halls of Malibu High School. Prosecutors are deciding what charges to file.
Strange made headlines last summer when he climbed Mt. Everest and then Australia’s Mt. Kosciuszko, becoming the youngest person to summit the highest peaks on all seven continents.
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. â€” The victim might have forgiven the woman who ran him down in a Massachusetts crosswalk, but police havenâ€™t.
Police say a Pittsfield woman has been cited for running down a man named Lord Jesus Christ as he crossed a street in Northampton on Tuesday.
The 50-year-old man is from Belchertown. Officers checked his ID and discovered that, indeed, his legal name is Lord Jesus Christ. He was taken to the hospital for treatment of minor facial injuries.
Police say 20-year-old Brittany Cantarella was cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.