Category Archives: Automotive

The Mobilicity system is an automated

It is cheaper to operate than a conventional bus system and offers unrivalled flexibility in operation. The electric vehicles operate on any graded road surface and require no specific infrastructure; this is a major competitive advantage over its only current competition.

As typical new urban developments commit 30% of the available land to the private car for roads and parking, the application of the Mobilicity approach can reduce this to 8%; a very significant amount of land released for other uses.  Further, it can also bring benefits in sensitive areas such as historic city centres where it can improve the environment without any structural impact.

Mobilicity has no direct competitors. Its closest rival is the PRT or Personal Rapid Transit sector. As an example, the Ultra PRT system, which uses a car-sized vehicle requiring extensive infrastructure, has considerable capacity and operational limitations compared to Mobilicity.

This innovative GRT concept has a very wide range of potential applications; from small scale private estates through to entire city centres. An independent analysis carried out for the company estimates the global market for systems of this type to be worth more than $8 billion by 2026.

 

The Mobilicity project had its first developments in 2002 when the parent company, Capoco Design Limited, reached its 25th year of incorporation since it was formed in 1977. The approach at Capoco is always to look forward so the company decided not to concentrate on a reprise of its past activities, but to investigate the fairly urgent requirements for future city mobility.

Copoco with its public transport background, it seemed natural to commission a research project into the needs of city transport over the next 25 years up to 2027. This was to take into account all the major trends acting on the transport scene as a whole. This particularly included population growth and the rural-to-urban drift. It was therefore logical to study the transport needs of the mega-cities that will increase in number as we move from a 50% urban share of a 6 billion global population, to a 65% urban share of a 9 billion global population.

This demographic trend is being accompanied by an ageing population profile in many countries, with its impact on national finances, individual wealth, social exclusion and different mobility needs. These effects will run parallel to the equally well-known trends of reducing oil supplies, environmental pressure on local and global air quality and ever-greater societal losses through traffic congestion.

To study these major trends in our transport world, Capoco collaborated with the Helen Hamlyn Research Centre, headed by Jeremy Myerson, at the Royal College of Art, London. Also part of the team was the famous Vehicle Design department of the RCA, led by Professor Dale Harrow.

The work commenced with an in-depth review of the current situation, the many pre-determined global trends and all possible transport solutions. The project team invited a range of experts, from a range of sectors including city and transport planning, the built environment, social mechanisms, to ideas workshops to discuss and develop different approaches to the challenges ahead. To assist this investigation process, actual city journeys in London, Istanbul and Hong Kong were analysed by tracking actual individuals through a range of different commuter scenarios.

From studying the requirements, an idealised system was proposed that used automated vehicles, effectively of variable size, running over the assorted routes. Then a process of back-casting, or retropolation, was applied to discover how this ideal system could be achieved in practice.

It is important to confirm that the Mobilicity system was never seen as a universal solution to all the transport challenges in all cities. The characteristics were developed to be complementary to other existing systems based on the various existing road, rail and water vehicles.

Power applications in automotives

One of the benefits of slimming down the vehicle body weight is less power energy consumption. Getting more kilometers out of the same amount of energy can be possible by fully exploiting the technology available in the market. A multitude of innovative concepts, technologies and materials are in the market and are used in the vehicles and transport carriers today. The relative high costs associated hindered the development and implementation of advanced materials and production technologies.
Potential novel materials applications have large scope, but the focus on two issues:

  • The development of innovative materials for batteries based on nanotechnology
  • The development of new light weight materials and respective technologies for vehicle applications.

We already discussed reducing structural weight in Automotives Body Weight Reduction that discussed on different materials role in reduction of body weight of automotives. While, innovative automotive electrochemical storage applications based on nanotechnology technical content and scope is:

Ford has come up with volume production plans for large-capacity Li-ion rechargeable batteries that are being made targeting electric vehicles and other applications in automobiles. As per Ford, Li-Ion batteries are the obvious energy storage option for PHEV with 50% less weight and 30% less volume with

  • High degree of application compatibility
  • Well resolved SOC
  • Historic research focus on high energy
  • Reasonable power-to-energy ratio design flexibility
  • Wider range of electrode material choices
  • Long term cost potential

Lithium Ion Technology is one of the satisfactory methods that still most car manufacturers would agree for long distance EV use. Energy and power density, cost and safety improvements are needed at a higher ratio. The developmental projects shall solely address the development of innovative materials and technologies for battery components, material architectures and systems for automotive electrochemical storage at cell level within a responsible, sustainable and environmental-friendly approach looking at the entire life cycle. The affect of the battery properties at the nanoscale across a full cell includes modelling and simulation. The focus is on innovative technologies, architectures and chemistries and should address the issues like:

  • performance, safety, recyclability and cost
  • Potential capability for fast charging without significant life reduction
  • Effect of bi-directional flow at charge stations
  • Availability of other associated materials
  • Eco-design and the environmental impact by material production
  • Characterization, standardization and synergies with other applications.

Proof of concept in terms of product or process is encouraged as is participation from the manufacturing industrial sector within strong interdisciplinary consortia.

Globally many events take place on the power applications in automobiles and the industry members are thriving to bring a breakthrough in the technology.

Ticona Material Innovations for Fuel / Hybrid Systems presented its innovative automotive power solutions at ITB Automotive Energy Storage Systems 2012. Being a supplier of engineering polymers, Ticona showcased material innovations for automotive fuel and hybrid powertrain systems that are solutions for aggressive gasoline, diesel and bio-diesel fuel applications, including ESD polymers and hybrid Powertrain Systems Solutions for battery separator films and power distribution, and materials that can reduce overall system weight to offset battery mass, improve packaging and ensure powertrain reliability.

A123 systems, transportation energy storage solutions  are advanced lithium ion energy storage solutions that enable higher performance and increased efficiency in passenger and commercial electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. The knowledge of electric drive-train technologies allows A123 to work closely with its customer’s fully-integrated system level to help commercialize new vehicle concepts. When compared to other battery chemistries, A123’s automotive class lithium ion battery systems delivers durability, reliability, high power density, extended life cycling, superior abuse tolerance for excellent safety performance and higher usable energy due to a wide usable state of charge range.

Talking Cars Coming Up

Driving is a crazy, Driving is Fun, Driving is a Sport. Driving is all about enjoying oneself in a single “machine”. With so many other aspects of our lives guided by computers that never get sleepy or distracted, manufacturers are now making our vehicles communicate with each other to avoid or say minimize accidents.

Vehicles are part of people’s life in modern society, into which more and more hightech devices are integrated, and a common platform for inter–vehicle communication is necessary to realize an intelligent transportation system supporting safe driving, dynamic route scheduling, emergency message dissemination, and traffic condition monitoring.

When “The Terminator” came out in 1984, it involved an annihilating future wherein machines had risen against us. Having arrived in that future, we now know better. The machines won’t kill us. But they are removing us from the equation.

Researchers say, autonomous cars will reduce traffic jams because they will communicate with one another to use the highways more efficiently. Because they will spend less time in gridlock, they will lessen the emission of harmful pollutants. And, they will give greater personal mobility to those who, because of disability or age, cannot drive.

NHTSA and eight automakers did a year long research to determine whether vehicles that talk to each other can prevent accidents. The Safety Pilot Model Deployment project brings together about 1500 cars equipped with Dedicated short–range communications (DSRC) devices that constantly transmit “here–I–am” signals to vehicles around them.

Vehicle–to–vehicle communication can be used to disseminate messages of multiple services generating their content using sensors within the vehicle. These services can include accident warning, information on traffic jams or warning of an approaching rescue vehicle. In addition, information on road or weather conditions can be exchanged.

The warning systems can alert drivers to hazards such as a pedestrian ahead or a car moving into an intersection from the side, and to detect other cars and deliver warnings if they get too close to each other.

These Cars are fitted with radios that broadcast basic safety messages about surrounding automobiles’ speed and location 10 times per second among this smaller fleet. Messages travel on a special Wi–Fi spectrum designated for vehicle–to–vehicle (V2V) communication. A car’s DSRC signal extends more than 300 meters in all directions, so, unlike unidirectional radar or a sensor, it can pick up the signal of another car approaching too closely from any angle. The “here–I–am” message cannot be blocked by another car, so it can, for example, detect a hazard two cars ahead.

The idea is to give that driver who might possibly be distracted-maybe by talking to another passenger or fiddling with the radio-that extra little buffer to get his attention back on the road and react accordingly.

In order to get a broad safety benefit, a significant number of vehicles must have DSRC, and achieving that penetration would likely require some kind of government mandate.

The trend of light weight vehicles

All these industry efforts are to acquire the untapped market in developed and developing counties that is eagerly waiting for the light weight vehicles because of the high emphasis on growing oil prices and greenhouse gasses concerns. So, these light weight vehicles are going to give more mileage with the same amount of energy compared to regular vehicles. However, the challenge lies at pricing of the end product because of the high costs associated with the development and implementation of these advanced materials and production technologies.

 

Technological dimensions of the automotive industry in producing light weight components

 

The industry is considering the large scope of potential in novel materials applications focusing on light alloys, thermoplastics, carbon or other fiber-reinforced polymers, composites, advanced steels and tailored honeycombs, foams, multifunctional materials into the body parts, chassis and heavier interior systems that includes optimization of structural layouts, numerical simulation, multi-functional design, testing, manufacturing processes. The standardization issues are considered on the innovative structural layouts that could let new electric vehicles to easily adapt the materials involved in the assembling process in order to improve safety by enhanced energy absorbing capability. Hence, this leads to a better deal with asymmetric crash conditions for the compatibility of size and weight proportion of the vehicle.
Investment in research by the Oak Ridge National Labs and U.S. Department of Energy produced a low cost carbon fiber using lignin as part of an initiative to produce multiple value added streams from biological feedstock and lightweight components for vehicles. While ThyssenKrupp’s has come up with many chassis solutions & concepts that use the potential of high and ultrahigh strength steels for optimization of chassis structure which helps to reduce weight of the vehicle. These concepts are also announced as cost effective and used hot-rolled complex phase steel with yield strength of 680 megapascals that remarkably stronger than the steels used in the chassis designs till now. So, the players in the industry are equipping themselves with the competitive edge to sustain in the coming up competition.

 

Industry Facts

  • » The global lightweight materials consumption for transportation equipment in 2006 was 42.8 million tons/$80.5 billion that has increased above 9% i.e. 68.5 million tons/$106.4 billion by 2011.
  • » The above metal quantity largest percentage accounts high strength steel and followed by aluminium & plastics.
  • » The passenger cars and light trucks among motor vehicles are the largest end user segment made of lightweight materials.

 

Materials role in light weight materials for automotives

Steel: Among the metals and composites, steel is the most adorable component that has been playing an important role in the automotives manufacturing process. It is the major interest area for steel industry and component suppliers who are investing heavily in its innovation. The inherent capability of steel to absorb impact energy in a crash situation led the material to be often a first choice for the automotive designers. While the components in a body in white structure should undergo tests that proves the metal be able to absorb or transmit impact energy in a crash situation to decide about the suitability of the materials for automotive application.

ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe set up modernized mills to produce high tensile steels for lightweight automotive construction, starting material for tin-plate, plus steels for oil and gas pipelines, and electrical steel. While, Chrysler and many foreign carmakers depends on zinc-iron coatings, which can be made by electro galvanizing or by producing galvaneal, which is an inline annealed galvanized steel, on hot dip lines.

In collaboration with Sumitomo Metal Industries and Aisin Takaoka, Mazda Motor has become the first automaker to successfully develop vehicle components using 1,800 MPa ultra-high tensile steel. Its CX-5 comes under a lighter vehicle, have more rigid chassis largely made of high-tensile steel, that enables the car to feel solid and composed when slogging through rough terrain, either roads or trails. Another car maker Honda has come up with Accord Euro that is manufactured 50% from high tensile steel.

The number of new vehicle models

One of the biggest challenges in today’s automotive production environment is the incorporation of multiple vehicles at the same plant in much higher densities than in the past. Since the demand for new vehicles is increasing every year, OEMs are adding new models and variants by increasing the production capacity of their existing plant.

Driven by the need to increase production capacity and shorten cycle time, manufacturers in numerous industries are taking advantage of various automation technologies. One of these automation technologies is Robotics. Automakers and automotive related industries particularly implement greater use of robots in their BIW assembly line, as their assembly lines are quite complex. Robots automate the production of various components and simplify most of the tasks on assembly line.

Consequently, to successfully apply robotics technology in BIW assembly line, there lay a stronger need for effective analysis and design tools. Robotic simulation is one of the digital manufacturing techniques that help to visualize entire robotic workcells and sort out any problems before investing in costly equipment. Robotic simulation is widely utilized in the automotive industry as their BIW assembly line involves multiple robots, tooling fixtures, humans, etc. that needs to be validated and optimized prior to system build to ensure that it will yield the desired results. Cost savings, safety and user interaction are some of the advantages that makes robotic simulation a valuable tool in the manufacturing industry.

Why Robotic simulation?

Robotic simulation is a technique of building a model of a real or proposed robotic workcell so that the robot’s behavior may be studied. It aims at visualizing and optimizing the performance of a robot in a manufacturing cell, and can help in validating layouts, cycle time estimates, balance multi robot lines, optimize floor space, and check tooling and fixture designs. Everything from cycle time to robot reach to tool validation is performed in simulation. Robotic simulation:

  • » Accelerates new product introduction (NPI)
  • » Ensures a working process
  • » Provides tremendous scope for optimization
  • » Facilitates collaboration amongst design, digital manufacturing engineers, and shop floor
  • » Eliminates costly mistakes
  • » Saves time

About BIW assembly line

Product BOM of the BIW skeleton consists of more than thousands components, which can be broadly divided in four major groups –

  • » Underbody assembly (assembly of motor compartment, front/rear floor, rear compartment, rocker)
  • » Closures (sub assemblies of doors, decklid, hood , fenders)
  • » Inner framing (assembly of bodyside inner, roof bow, shelf, rear-end)
  • » Outer framing (assembly of body side outer, roof, motor rail extension)

All these major components of vehicle body are assembled through robotic operations like material handling, geo spot welding, respot welding, arc welding, nut/ stud welding, clinching, dispensing, pedestal operations, vision system, hemming, tabbing etc.

Essential capabilities of Robotic Simulation in BIW assembly

The core activities of robotic simulation in BIW assembly are:

  • » Validate and optimize the Process
  • » Validate and optimize the Tools
  • » Validate and optimize Plant Layout
    1. Validate and Optimize the Process
      Robotic simulation is a powerful tool that helps in simulating the entire process and verifying that the robots can perform all the desired tasks efficiently. Automotive workcells usually have multiple robots that have to be sequenced properly to optimize cycle times and minimize interference zone wait times.
      A typical automotive BIW has several thousand weld spots to create the assembly from the individual sheetmetal stampings, and a significant amount of time goes in determining an optimum weld spot distribution between the robots. Robotic simulation addresses the early planning phase of spot-welding design process. It facilitates optimum weld spot sequence and distribution of weld points to multiple stations in a simulation environment. Similarly, other processes like material handling, dispensing and arc welding process sequences can also be validated and optimized through robotic simulation. The robotic simulation team works in close collaboration with the processing team to design and validate all processes in a 3D model. The simulation team analyzes alternate scenarios to identify a process with optimum cycle times. By simulating robot motions during design, the team verifies whether the robots will be able to achieve the required motions without interference and arrive at a realistic cycle time and throughput.

A new era of vehicles

Car makers if not cars themselves are intelligent these days and are intelligent enough to bind fuel Efficiency with ever desired Luxury. It would not be an exaggeration to say that we await to see a new tag ‘ EL ‘ instead of the routine Xis, Dis, A/B/C/E/G/M/R/S classes, A-1/3/4/5/6/7/8 series etc.

Luxury is a secondary consideration in car making. Hence, efficiency comes to the fore in present day’s Automotive Industry thought process. Of course, Emission control can also be considered in the tag ‘EL’, but, it any ways is another facet of efficiency. Coming to the efficient proving technologies in the automotive industry, an evolution has to be re-visited.

Engine design, exhaust system design, aerodynamics design and transmission system design are the core entities of a vehicle that reflect in its net efficiency. A particular company selected one among these entities to make their product efficient, and claim it. Whatsoever, moulding the engine design proves concrete in terms of delivering desired (efficiency) results. Several technologies, fuel injection mechanisms in particular, are in an evolutionary use since the diesel combustion engine was first used for automobiles way back in 1930s. The idea of efficiency was reckoned when the fuel injection mechanism was direct, and was first used by Fiat in its Croma during 1986. Since then fuel injection has been a core design component for every company to make a master piece, Efficient vehicle. Add to that, a hint of Luxury, it can be tagged ‘EL’.

The evolution still continues and the next big thing in fuel injection adjacent to Direct Injection technology is the Common Rail Direct Injection technology or in simple terms CRDi. Next to this is a diesel engine specific injection system called the Turbocharged Diesel Injection, in simple terms TDi. Another hybrid out of TDi is the Turbo plus Supercharged Injection (Twincharged) or simply called, TSi. All these are the basically available fuel injection mechanism technologies from which a car maker can choose one to make his product and accordingly design the other vehicle mechanisms to support the engine and its fuel injection eventually giving out an Efficient vehicle.

Modified versions of above mentioned injection mechanisms are used in several vehicles by several companies. Like, Tata used CRDi mechanism in their branded DICOR and CR4 engine design, Ford Motor Company used the same mechanism to design their TDCi brand engine where as General Motors branded CDTi and VCDi are also based on the same injection mechanism.

Earlier mentioned injection mechanisms are basic and can be used in conjunction with certain other vehicle systems modified to produce a better product than before. One such technology that is worth commending now in mid 2011 is the BlueMotion technology, introduced by the Volkswagen in 2006 via MK6 Polo and latest, Passat. The revolutionary BlueMotion clubbed various basic technologies to make an outstanding combination that delivered perfectly what is desired from it.  An engine tagged with BlueMotion uses either TDi or TSi alongside the modified Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) with dual clutch to offer the best in class fuel economy. In addition to a better fuel economy the emissions are also considerably cut in the name of Nitrous Oxide (NOx) emission reduction. It also features injection Start-Stop system in normal, hybrid as well as electric drive. It gives a sheer drive pleasure with all these in perfect sync and hence, BlueMotion technology is considered to be one of many combos that can possibly be implemented to bring the best or the ‘EL’ tag eligible vehicle out.

Achieving Cleanliness Reliably

Component cleanliness is a quality criterion in the motor vehicle industry. Requirements are becoming stricter and stricter with each vehicle generation – with simultaneously increasing cost pressure. And thus for the automotive industry and its suppliers it’s becoming more and more important to exploit optimisation potential in the area of parts cleaning.

Global emphasis is being placed upon reducing CO2 emissions and fuel consumption, as well as increasing safety and comfort within the vehicle manufacturing industry. Downsized engines are in demand which run more efficiently with high power output, as are components that are capable of withstanding extreme loads and are distinguished by tight tolerances. However, this is only possible with high precision components – and this is associated with increased sensitivity to contamination. If they end up in the wrong place, even particles with sizes down to 500, 200 or even just 100 µm can cause damage and failure in the field. This is why, in the meantime, the automotive industry has started defining particle size distributions for certain parts in functional modules such as the power train, steering and brakes, for example no more than 1,000 particles between 100 and 200 µm, 500 particles between 200 and 400 µm etc. In order to fulfil and document these requirements, large investments in industrial parts cleaning technology are required in some cases. For example, based on calculations, the outlays required for cleaning technology which fulfils a specified requirement of “no particles larger than 1,000 µm” are two to three times higher than for systems in which cleaned parts are contaminated with larger particles.

Minimising Contamination

The issue of potential for economic optimisation in the parts cleaning process is pursued despite, or perhaps precisely due to the large investment sums involved in some cases. One approach is component design, because the geometry of the workpiece and the individual steps of the manufacturing process, for example turning, milling and assembly, as well as cleanability, are determined during the design stage. The latter usually plays no role at all, for which revenge is taken during the subsequent production process: The parts have corners, edges or drill holes from which particles and processing residues can only be removed with considerable effort, or not at all.

Due to the fact that material is removed during the course of chip-forming machining processes, contamination can never be entirely avoided. The quality of cooling lubricants and machining fluids influences the quantity of chips, burrs and particles on the workpieces. Suitable purification/filtration prevents previously washed away contamination from being returned to the component once again.

A special rinsing step with the tool in the machining centre – perhaps even with more finely purified fluid from a separate tank – can also make a contribution to reducing the number of chips. At first glance, this represents an additional expense. But it pays for itself later on in the manufacturing process thanks to shorter cleaning times and/or a longer bath service life, as well as better component quality. And residues which are removed after machining by means of mechanical pre-cleaning based on vibration, shaking, spinning or vacuum blasting the surfaces of the part do not place any unnecessary load on the cleaning agent.

In the case of multi-stage machining processes in metal forming and machining applications, intermediate cleaning steps prevent the accumulation of contamination, as well as any mixing or drying out of media on the workpieces.

Ideally Laid Out Cleaning Processes

Modern cleaning systems are capable of fulfilling even very high demands for component cleanliness – assuming the cleaning process has been ideally matched to the contamination to be removed, part geometry, the utilised material and the cleanliness specification to be complied with.

The limit value of “smaller than 1,000 µm” for components in engines and gearboxes can only be adhered to with a cleaning process which has been laid out specifically for the respective part. The current state-of-the-art makes use of a multi-stage procedure to this end. The workpieces are thus usually subjected to mechanical cleaning during the first step, which removes some of the adhering machining fluid. The second step involves immersion flooding: Water is injected into the cleaning chamber below the surface of the bath at a pressure of 10 to 15 bar. The resulting whirlpool effect rinses chips and contamination out of hollow spaces such as threaded blind holes. Water jet systems which are aimed at openings in the component, and lances which advance into holes, allow for optimised results within short periods of time. This applies as well to subsequent high-pressure cleaning or deburring. Rinsing is followed by a drying process.

Innovative automotive solutions

Windows Embedded Automotive has spent more than 15 years enabling vehicle-based infotainment systems that let drivers control their car stereos, mobile phones and other devices with voice commands. Consumers have since come to expect that they can access and share information — even while they’re driving. They have traded the legacy driving aids of the AM radio and road atlas for entertainment, navigation and communication services.

The in-car infotainment systems are now one of the top selling points and are helping the automotive industry create what it calls the “connected car.” Depending on the system they’ve selected, drivers can listen to text messages, connect to social media, receive driving directions and more, all without taking their eyes off the road or their hands off the wheel. The connected car is one more example of what Windows Embedded calls intelligent systems.

Windows Embedded Automotive 7 includes state of the art hands free phone control including address book and calendar download with secure simple pairing.

New in Windows Embedded Automotive 7 is SMS Reply by voice. Drivers can reply to text messages using voice controls where the system matches the drivers reply to stored messages like “Running late” or “See you in 10 minutes.”

Support for media devices like iPod and Zune, a cornerstone of past Windows Embedded Automotive platforms, have been upgrade and improved including iPhone/iPod Touch Firmware 3.x support, Bluetooth 2.1 and the latest DLNA.

 

Additionally Microsoft provides regular device updates to car makers so that the platform always works with the latest devices keeping your solution relevant for years.

What’s New for Microsoft Auto Customers?

Those familiar with Microsoft Auto can enjoy the new tools that the Windows Automotive development environment (the Automotive Adaptation Kit [AAK]) brings to Windows Embedded Automotive 7:

  • Next-generation Automotive System Tools

The AST tools support the stable integration of advanced, high-performance systems. They include improved test modules and easy-to-use product engineering guidelines to help simplify the development process and increase reliability.

  • A wider selection of middleware components

These include Windows Internet Explorer and Windows Media technology, required for the development of an automotive multimedia system.

  • Significantly improved middleware

Updated Bluetooth profiles, enhanced media and phone modules and application cores all to make sure that Windows Embedded Automotive continues to be the preferred and leading in-car infotainment platform.

  • Microsoft Tellme speech technology engines and Silverlight for Windows Embedded

Ford Motor Company also used Windows Embedded Automotive to power the award-winning Ford SYNC, SYNC with MyFord Touch and SYNC AppLink.

Multilanguage functionality in Ford SYNC was unveiled with the all-new Focus available now in China. With the introduction of the Focus, SYNC will feature Mandarin as its interfacing language, recognizing wide-ranging accents from 13 provinces, while also responding to English commands. Spoken by more than 1.2 billion people, the Mandarin language has subtleties that necessitated extensive research to allow for the differences in the pronunciation of the same word.

How to detect behind you

According to Infiniti America’s Vice President Ben Poore ,

“The system can detect vehicles approaching from either side when you back up. If a vehicle appears to be entering your path, it provides three layers of warning – visual, audio and gas pedal force feedback – and ultimately can apply brake pressure to help you avoid a collision if you don’t take action yourself.”

Not only does it enhance one’s driving experience, it also ensures in more than just one way, that drivers enjoy a safety feature which can prevent a lot of accidents.

When an approaching vehicle is detected, the driver hears an audible alert and witnesses a flashing light indicating its oncoming direction. Next, as the vehicle gets closer, the driver hears three beeps and sees a red frame indicator on the in-dash display as an additional warning.

If one fails to act, at this point, the system counteracts by pushing back on the accelerator. If one continues to back up, the system will engage the brakes momentarily to draw attention, in a matter of few seconds.

When in reverse, BCI helps detect crossing traffic as well as large, stationery objects behind the vehicle.

The BCI system is bundled with the $1,900 Driver Assistance Package and also requires the $3,000 Premium Plus navigation, traffic info and voice recognition package.

However, since the system is aimed at parking lot and driveway assistance, it is only active below 5 mph. Drivers are hence advised to look back while in the reverse as an extended safety measure.

So, no more missing while trying to back up!

A new carbon composite

This composite can be viewed as a substitute to assembling two separate components that could aid electric vehicles by constructing bodywork which stocks power too, thus saving up on space as well as weight.

‘Multifunctional structural energy materials hold great promise in enabling more energy efficient and environmentally-friendly technologies, as they will make a considerable difference in terms of how we store and deliver energy in the future,’ says Guihua Yu, an energy storage specialist at the University of Texas in Austin, US.

Milo Shaffer of Imperial College of London, UK, is of the idea that carbon based materials are the base of various structural composites as well as electrochemical devices. He created a material that combined the strength and stiffness of structural carbon fibers and the ionic conductivity of activated carbon.

A crucial part of the study revolved around increasing the surface area of structural carbon fibers for usage as supercapacitor electrodes. The surface area and specific capacitance could be increased by three orders of magnitude formation of highly porous carbon aerogel around the fibers and this provided added benefits to its mechanical properties.

Shaffer confirms that the main challenge of the study arrived in the form of multifunctional electrolyte which needs to combine mechanical properties with ionic conductivity – two essentially inverse concepts. A balance in the performance levels was achieved by coming up with a bicontinuous structure consisting of an epoxy resin for its mechanical properties and an ionic liquid for purpose of ionic conduction.

The composites have a laminated nature and this helps energy storage devices like for instance lithium ion batteries, and the like. The question remains – ‘Why a supercapacitor then?’ Batteries have a lot of issues with volume expansion and therefore it is a tad bit difficult to make these devices well structured. Shaffer explains, ‘which is why we found supercapacitors interesting; you can have a useful energy function but don’t necessarily have any volume change.’

There is something else that needs a mention too: the power density of the material – which happens to be lower than the current technologically advanced supercapacitors. Nevertheless, Shaffer is conscious of the shortcomings of the material and the development of such a system is no easy task.