File photo of worker cleaning Audi A3 in final check area at production line of German car manufacturer's plant in Ingolstadt

Sogefi’s shares rose more than 3 percent on the news, and were up 2.6 percent at 4.09 euros by 1333 GMT, outperforming a 1 percent rise in Milan’s All-Share index.

The new suspension springs, based on a technology patented by Sogefi, will be made from a glass fiber-reinforced polymer instead of steel and will weigh between 40-70 percent less than traditional steel springs, the company said.

They can be assembled on cars and light commercial vehicles without affecting the suspension system architecture, allowing for a weight reduction of 4-6 kg (8.8-13 lb) per vehicle, it added.

Audi will launch the new springs in an upper mid-size model before the end of this year.

Henry Sapiecha

 

DARPA asks the public to design

a new combat support vehicle

By Darren Quick

The XC2V must be designed around the tubular chassis found in the Local Motors Rally Fight...

The XC2V must be designed around the tubular chassis found in the Local Motors Rally Fighter

In an effort to streamline the design and build process for manufacturing military vehicles, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is enlisting the “power of the crowd”. Through the Experimental Crowd-derived Combat-support Vehicle (XC2V) Design Challenge, which asks entrants to conceptualize a vehicle body design for combat reconnaissance and combat delivery & evacuation, the agency is looking to pick the brains of not only armed service members and engineers, but also members of the public and others that usually have no way to contribute to military design.

The challenge is being conducted with Local Motors, a Phoenix-based company that lets a community of car designers and engineers collaborate on designing cars, which can then be bought and built in regional micro-factories. Local Motors’ first “open source” production vehicle is the Rally Fighter, which was developed in 2008 using a crowd-sourced process. The XC2V design submissions must be based on the lightweight, tubular steel chassis and the General Motors LS3 V8 powertrain found in that vehicle.

Budding designers must also devise a vehicle that meets two mission sets – combat delivery and evacuation and combat reconnaissance. To meet the requirements of combat delivery and evacuation missions, the judges will be looking for flexible vehicle body designs that allow supplies, people and equipment to be transported around a potentially hostile battlefield in the quickest and most efficient way possible.

Meanwhile, in terms of combat reconnaissance, the vehicle must also be light and fast with the capability to mount sighting systems on the exterior and space inside to stow items such as camouflage and ammunition so it is easily accessible.

To help make the mission requirements easier to understand for those without a military background, DARPA has provided four different fictitious scenarios that illustrate how the vehicle might be used in different missions. DARPA and Local Motors will also provide feedback to competitors as submissions are received

Local Motors is accepting design submissions until March 3, 2010, which can be as simple as a sketch on a piece of paper or as detailed as a 3D CAD file. However, the submission must include a profile view, front/rear/Combo view and top (half or full) view.

Once the submissions are assessed, those that meet the competition requirements will be put to a vote on March 3 to 10, with anybody able to cast their vote on the designs, meaning that not only the designs, but the winner that is being crowd-derived.

Third place will be awarded US$1,000, second place $1,500, while first place will take home $7,500 and will get to see their vision become a reality as soon as June when a fully functional concept vehicle based on the winning design is due to be ready.

Entrants must be over 18 with full competition details and entry guidelines available at Local Motors’ website.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Sweating stealth vehicle among BAE Systems future battlefield concepts

BAE Systems has presented the fruits of its Future Protected Vehicle program (FPV) to the U.K. Ministry of Defence, and it’s an intiguing glimpse of the what we can expect to see in tomorrow’s high-tech battlefield. With input from over 35 organizations, the FPV study is aimed at identifying “innovative technologies and concepts for short, medium and long term exploitation into future lightweight land platforms.” Hundreds of new technologies were canvassed in the study and seven platform concept vehicles have been floated to showcase the most significant of these, including the use of electronic ink camouflage systems, microwave weapons, floating electro-magnetic armor and a type of mechanical “sweat” that reduces thermal signature. Read More

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha



First Chevrolet Volt delivered to customer

It’s been a big week in the world of mass-produced electric vehicles. Hot on the heels of Nissan delivering the first of its LEAF all-electric vehicles to a customer in California last Saturday, a retired airline pilot by the name of Jeffrey Kaffee has become the first customer in the U.S. to take delivery of a Chevrolet Volt. Although the Volt he received wasn’t actually the first available for sale, with that particular vehicle going to the winner of an online charity auction, which closed on Tuesday with a winning bid of US$225,000. Read More

and more energy stuff here >>> www.energy-options.info

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha




Eyes, ears and brains being developed for underwater robots

Engineers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics are working on an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that would be inexpensive enough to use for industrial applications such as hull and dam inspection, yet independent enough that it wouldn’t require any kind of human control. Typically, more cumbersome but less costly remote operated vehicles (ROVs) are used for grunt work – they are connected to a ship on the surface by a tether, where a human operator controls them. The more technologically-advanced AUVs tend to be used more for well-funded research, but according to the engineers, one of the keys to creating “blue collar” AUVs is to overhaul the ways that they see, hear and think. Read More

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha



Audi’s autonomous Audi TT conquers Pikes Peak – how long before it betters a human driver?

Not long ago, there was informed debate on whether a purpose-built computer would ever beat a chess master. Now mobile phones have achieved Grand Master status. Computers continue to get exponentially faster, not to mention considerably smarter through improved software, whereas humans are effectively nearing their limits. Hence, it’s arguably only a matter of time and R&D focus before computers (plus improved sensors and software) surpass any specific human capability. This week Audi revealed that its Autonomous TTS research car had completed the 12.42-mile Pike’s Peak mountain course in 27 minutes. An expert driver in the same car would take around 17 minutes – now we have a benchmark, the race is on, and it’s almost inevitable that a computer will one day outdrive the best of our species, and it may be sooner than you think. Read More

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


In April scientists at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) put out a call seeking designs for a tactical flying car under its Transformer (TX) program. One of the first to respond is AVX Aircraft Company – its AVX Aircraft that can be manually driven on the ground like an SUV and also boasts Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) capability.

The stated objective of the TX program is to “demonstrate a four person flyable/roadable vehicle that will provide the warfighter with terrain-independent mobility. This presents unprecedented capability to avoid traditional and asymmetrical threats while avoiding road obstructions.” The TX will be designed to enhance future operations with use in strike and raid, intervention, interdiction, insurgency/counterinsurgency, reconnaissance, medical evacuation and logistical supply.

The Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) from DARPA called for a design that:

  • could be manually driven on the ground like an SUV
  • rapidly configures between ground and flight configuration
  • has Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) capability
  • has a cruise speed equivalent to a light aircraft
  • has automated takeoff/landing flight control.

AVX met these performance requirements with its AVX TX design that has:

  • 1,040 lb payload
  • 250 nautical mile range on one tank of fuel
  • 10,000 ft mean sea level altitude at max gross weight
  • 80mph on road speed, 30mph rough terrain speed
  • 140mph flying speed
  • converts from road to flight mode in 60 seconds

AVX says its TX will also have intuitive controls that will provide non-pilot operator control and navigation systems that are intuitive enough to facilitate the transition from road to flight operations. The vehicle’s dual ducted fans will provide propulsion both on the ground and in the air.

Additionally the AVX (TX) can be quickly converted to medivac with a vehicle operator, medical attendant and littered patient. It can also be converted to a resupply vehicle and can move 12,50 lbs as an unmanned vehicle using a sling or 1,000 lbs as a manned vehicle with the same 250 nm range.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Ultra-Simple Method for Creating

Nanoscale Gold Coatings Developed

Researchers at Rensselaer have developed a new, ultra-simple method for making layers of gold that measure only billionths of a meter thick. As seen in the research image, drops of gold-infused toluene applied to a surface evaporate within a few minutes and leave behind a uniform layer of nanoscale gold. The process requires no sophisticated equipment, works on nearly any surface, takes only 10 minutes, and could have important implications for nanoelectronics and semiconductor manufacturing. (Credit: Image courtesy of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

Gold plated porche.Munich show.

Science (June 21, 2010) — Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a new, ultra-simple method for making layers of gold that measure only billionths of a meter thick. The process, which requires no sophisticated equipment and works on nearly any surface including silicon wafers, could have important implications for nanoelectronics and semiconductor manufacturing.


Sang-Kee Eah, assistant professor in the Department of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy at Rensselaer, and graduate student Matthew N. Martin infused liquid toluene — a common industrial solvent — with gold nanoparticles. The nanoparticles form a flat, closely packed layer of gold on the surface of the liquid where it meets air. By putting a droplet of this gold-infused liquid on a surface, and waiting for the toluene to evaporate, the researchers were able to successfully coat many different surfaces — including a 3-inch silicon wafer — with a monolayer of gold nanoparticles.

“There has been tremendous progress in recent years in the chemical syntheses of colloidal nanoparticles. However, fabricating a monolayer film of nanoparticles that is spatially uniform at all length scales — from nanometers to millimeters — still proves to be quite a challenge,” Eah said. “We hope our new ultra-simple method for creating monolayers will inspire the imagination of other scientists and engineers for ever-widening applications of gold nanoparticles.”

Results of the study, titled “Charged gold nanoparticles in non-polar solvents: 10-min synthesis and 2-D self-assembly,” were published recently in the journal Langmuir.

Whereas other synthesis methods take several hours, this new method chemically synthesizes gold nanoparticles in only 10 minutes without the need for any post-synthesis cleaning, Eah said. In addition, gold nanoparticles created this way have the special property of being charged on non-polar solvents for 2-D self-assembly.

Previously, the 2-D self-assembly of gold nanoparticles in a toluene droplet was reported with excess ligands, which slows down and complicates the self-assembly process. This required the non-volatile excess ligands to be removed in a vacuum. In contrast, Eah’s new method ensures that gold nanoparticles float to the surface of the toluene drop in less than one second, without the need for a vacuum. It then takes only a few minutes for the toluene droplet to evaporate and leave behind the gold monoloayer.

“The extension of this droplet 2-D self-assembly method to other kinds of nanoparticles, such as magnetic and semiconducting particles, is challenging but holds much potential,” Eah said. “Monolayer films of magnetic nanoparticles, for instance, are important for magnetic data storage applications. Our new method may be able to help inform new and exciting applications.”

Co-authors on the paper are former Rensselaer undergraduate researchers James I. Basham ’07, who is now a graduate student at Pennsylvania State University, and Paul Chando ’09, who will begin graduate study in the fall at the City College of New York.

The research project was supported by Rensselaer, the Rensselaer Summer Undergraduate Research Program, the National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates, and the NSF’s East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

Watch a video demonstration of this new fabrication process at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqkwM9o1s-w

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

More cars vulnerable to computer hackers


SAN DIEGO (UPI) — Increasingly sophisticated cars need to be protected from hackers who could tamper with computerized systems, U.S. scientists said.

As more cars become connected to the Internet through wireless systems, hackers could remotely sabotage the vehicles, The New York Times reported Friday.

In tests, computer security experts at the University of Washington and the University of California, San Diego, said they were able to remotely control braking, stop the engine and activate dozens of other functions, almost all of them while a car was in motion.

The researchers tested two versions of a late-model car in laboratory and field settings. The researchers did not publicly identify the manufacturer or model, but said they believed the cars were representative of the computer network systems found in many late-model cars today.

“You should expect that various entry points in the automotive environment are no more secure in the automotive environment than they are in your PC,” said Stefan Savage, a computer scientist in San Diego.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 7th June 2010

Cars of the Future:

Plastic Makes Perfect?

Automotive Engineers

Bend New Materials

into Futuristic Shapes

February 1, 2006 — New materials for car bodies may soon transform the auto industry. Auto engineers can mold these carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics into virtually any shape. The materials are both strong and light — increasing fuel efficiency and safety at the same time.


TROY, Mich.– Cars built entirely out of plastic could be the wave of the future, making metal a thing of the past when it comes to cars.

New, innovative cars made almost entirely of plastic are paving the way for what you may be driving in the future. Guan Chew,amechanical engineer at Porsche Engineering Services in Troy, Mich., says, “With plastics you can design cars which are very bold, and that gives you an advantage to sell nicer cars.”

Plastics have gained a lot of ground over traditional metals used in cars, making it possible to build almost an entire vehicle completely of non-metal material. Paul Ritchie, CEO and engineer at Porsche Engineering Services, says: “The Carrera GT is what we would refer to as a proving ground for one of our new materials. It’s made essentially from reinforced plastic.”

Mechanical engineers use a lightweight, high-strength aerospace material called carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic. It’s used in the doors, hoods, fenders, chasis and also in support frames for the engine and transmission.

“You can mold the plastics into very complicated shapes that maybe you can’t do in steel,” Chew says. Looks aren’t the only perks of plastic; plastics help cars lose weight to go farther on fuel.

New materials, like plastic, are usually tested on high-end vehicles first. Once the materials are proven to be more efficient and cost effective, they eventually filter down to affordable consumer vehicles.

BACKGROUND: Student designers at the College for Creative Studies are creating new plastic polymer materials as alternatives for automobile elements typically made of steel. The designs were part of a semester-long project sponsored by the American Plastics Council and the automotive division of the Society of Plastics Engineers.

ADVANTAGES: Among other advantages, plastics can significantly reduce the weight of a vehicle, improving fuel efficiency by reducing drag, and also cutting down on emissions. Because plastic can be more easily molded, components can be tailored for more comfortable human-ergonomic features, as well as more streamlined, aerodynamic shapes. Less material can be used than with steel components, and the durability of plastics results in a longer, more reliable vehicle lifetime.

ABOUT PLASTICS: Plastics are a type of polymer, a chemical substance made up of many very large, chain-shaped molecules. These molecules in turn form thousands of repeating units, much like the links in a chain. Different plastics are made by linking together different monomers into different length chains. Mixing polymers with various additives gives them many useful properties, which is why plastics are used so often in our everyday lives. Thermoplastics soften with heat and harden when cooled, such as polyvinylchloride (PVC) and Teflon. They are used in food packaging, milk and water bottles, electrical insulation, carpet fibers, and credit cards, among other applications. Thermosetting plastics harden with heat, such as epoxy and polyester. They can be found in mattresses, cushions, varnishes, glues, and coatings on electrical circuits.

MAKE YOUR OWN PLASTIC! Most plastics derive from oil (petroleum) but you can create the same kind of linked molecules with milk. (1) Pour 1/2 cup milk or heavy cream into a saucepan and heat to simmering over low to medium heat. (2) Stir in a few spoonfuls of vinegar or lemon juice; continue adding until mixture starts to gel. (3) Remove pan from heat and cool, then rinse the rubbery curds with water. The curds are plastic, formed by the chemical reaction between the casein in the milk and the acid in the vinegar or lemon juice.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 15th April 2010