Cutting steel with electromagnetic fields

Tom Marcinko @ 10-12-2009

plexiglassThe bodies of vehicles need to be strong, but manufacturers also need to cut holes in them, for cable routing.

Working together with a number of partners including Volkswagen, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU in Chemnitz have come up with another way to make holes in press-hardened steel bodywork. Dr. Verena Kräusel, head of department at the IWU, explains: “The new method is based on electromagnetic pulse technology (EMPT), which was previously used primarily to expand or neck aluminum tubes. We’ve modified it to cut even hard steels. Whereas a laser takes around 1.4 seconds to cut a hole, EMPT can do the job in approximately 200 milliseconds — our method is up to seven times faster.”

Another advantage is that it produces no burr, thus doing away with the need for a finishing process. Stamping presses become superfluous, and no costs arise from the need to replace worn-out parts.

I confess I didn’t know this was already being used to cut aluminum. It might be part of the workaday grind to some, but there’s something sf-nally satisfying about using electromagnetism to cut through metals.

[Image: Plexiglass zapped with electricity from Wikimedia Commons via Ethan Hein]


Scaled-elextric: slot cars for transport

Tom James @ 11-08-2009

slot-carToday’s dose of technocratic mass-transport conceptual design is brought to you by German designer Christian Förg. His Speedway Transport System is inspired by slot cars of his youth:

Förg’s Speedway Transport System concept uses a network of linear electric motors to propel cars along the highway.

He sees us driving around in futuristic dual-mode electric cars with small motors for city driving. When we’re ready to leave town, a contact-free linear motor would propel the car over long distances with a drifting magnetic field. Förg says linear motors would work under our existing roadways, complementing – not replacing – existing automotive technology.

“This means that you can use the roads with normal cars and also at the same time for the Speedway system,”

If this ever gets taken up it’ll be interesting to see what alternative uses the street finds for this technology.

A slight non-sequitur: Will Hutton writes in the Guardian on the dire state of the UK rail network, and how in order to remain economically competitive, Britain must invest in the kind of high-speed rail they have in Europe.

[via Wired][image from Wired]


Smartdust on the roads, in the cars

Tom James @ 01-07-2009

highway_insomniaThe old chestnut of fully automatic cars trundled a little bit closer with the development of EM2P by the European research group EMMA:

“We sought to hide the underlying complexity of in-car embedded sensors so that developers could quickly design new applications with existing electronics,” explains Antonio Marqués Moreno, coordinator of the EMMA project. “EMMA will foster cost-efficient ambient intelligence systems with optimal performance, high reliability, reduced time-to-market and faster deployment.”

The project hopes that, by hiding the complexity of the underlying infrastructure, its work will open up new prospects in the field of embedded, cooperating wireless objects.

The key of the idea is to make a middleware application between the embedded sensors in cars and designers who want to develop interesting and useful applications.

it could also work between cars – opening the prospect of cooperating cars – and, of course, it can work with traffic infrastructure like lights, warning signs, and other signalling information. All of this via the same middleware platform.

Also a possible route of entry for a hypothetical Internet of Things.

[from ICT results, via Physorg][image from Nrbelex on flickr]


Smarten your car with downloadable software

Tom Marcinko @ 27-02-2009

flickrFirefox prompts you for updates every 15 minutes. Why can’t your car be more like that?

…[A]n automotive software architecture [is being] developed by European researchers to keep vehicles up to date with the latest technology.

Developed over two and a half years by a consortium of research institutes, software companies, vehicle manufacturers and parts suppliers, the architecture represents a fundamental building block for an intelligent car able to reconfigure and update itself autonomously, as well as communicate with other devices, such as the driver’s mobile phone or PDA.

Much as the software on a personal computer connects to the internet to download and install updates, the DySCAS architecture allows automotive software to automatically download patches and improvements whenever the vehicle is in range of an accessible wireless hotspot – in the owner’s garage, for example, or even in a public parking lot. It could then download new maps for the navigation system, update the entertainment system to play new music formats, or even adjust engine timing based on more fuel efficient settings supplied by the manufacturer.

A little better fuel efficiency — well, a lot better — and we’ll be good to go. In a few years, the researchers say.

[Image: FlickrMobile by Leo Reynolds]


Toyota To Test Plug-In Hybrids

Jeremy Lyon @ 31-07-2007

Toyota-PriusThe good news: Toyota’s developing a plug-in Prius hybrid that can run off the battery alone for short trips. The bad news: we’re talking really short trips (8 miles or less). These cars are “not fit for commercialization” because the battery technology hasn’t kept up with the potential usages. Damn that bunny. [slashdot]


Next Page »