MemeBox’s Garry Golden, Editor of The Energy Roadmap, just meme-blasted the minds of morning commuters across the country with his analysis of the near-term future of transportation and suggestions for our new President-elect. [Podcast of Interview]
Appearing on PRI’sThe Takeaway with John Hockenberry, Golden was asked how he would advise Congress and the upcoming Obama administration on the proposed U.S. multi-billion dollar auto industry bailout. He responded by unequivocally advocating the avoidance of “any further investments into the old combustion engine model” arguing that the country needs to quickly move past hybrids by leap-frogging “to an all-electric platform.”
Garry pointed out that “the electric vehicle is … going global quickly”, thus opening a market window to countries like China who are developing competencies in areas such as battery production. So it’s now incumbent upon U.S. companies like GM to successfully adapt to the new conditions, possibly by building out the new electrically powered chassis that will serve as platform for new transport structures.
In the future, your car will detect danger possibilities and
protect you as you encounter other cars on the road. It will
automatically display a happy, sad, or angry look to convey
appropriate feelings to other drivers in response to their action.
This is the vision of four Toyota Motor employees in Japan who
recently patented this creative technology.
Car modifications include a hood with slits and designs that
resemble eyebrows, eyelids and tears, which glow with different
light shades and colors to reflect desired moods; an antenna that
wags like a puppy dog’s tail to show happiness; and a body that can
crouch low on its wheelbase when timid, or stand tall to express
By 2015 or before, “cars with feelings” could be arriving at
dealer showrooms everywhere. These cars can display a wide range of
expressions to help us interact with other drivers on the road.
Today, we can only honk horns, tap brakes, flash headlights, or use
turn signals. It’s difficult to thank another driver for letting us
enter the lane, or to show disapproval at someone who cuts us
The intelligence system on these new cars with personalities
calculate road and vehicle conditions such as steering angle,
braking, and speed. It also correlates driver reactions, road and
car conditions, and automatically creates correct color and
position for the eyebrows, antenna, lights and vehicle height.
If a pre-set number of points indicate an approaching careless
or hostile driver, the system creates an anger reaction. The
headlights glow red, the eyebrows light up, but the antenna and
height remains in a standard “cool” position. A happy, satisfied
look is displayed to reward a courteous driver. A friendly “wink”
shows that you agree with a driver’s action, or it could also be an
attempt at flirting. (cont.)
reports that beleaguered auto manufacturer Chrysler LLC will begin offering wifi aboard their
vehicles later this year. As the first major auto producer to
provide internet access, this will give the company a big brand and
gadgetry edge, though its vehicles will no doubt continue to lag
in mileage and quality construction.
The feature will be added to existing vehicles by dealers
beginning this year and later be installed on the assembly line,
Frank Klegon, Executive Vice President—Product Development, said.
The Wi-Fi port, initially to be sold as a separate device, will
eventually be built into the vehicle’s radio system and coordinated
with other audio and video technologies to allow such things as
transferring music files from the user’s home computer.
Users will need a subscription to a wireless carrier in order to
connect to the internet, which will likely limit access to areas
within range of cell towers. Nevertheless, it marks a fresh start
for a desperate company sorely in need of compelling consumer
offerings, allowing a variety of applications, such as basic
navigation systems and music downloads, and eventually a much
broader suite of networked add-ons.
Somewhat surprisingly, it appears that the future of auto-web
connectivity will first be championed by an American
General Motors (GM) and OnStar have successfully demonstrated a prototype technology called Stolen Vehicle Slowdown, which does exactly that – it allows OnStar advisors working with law enforcement to send a signal to a subscriber’s stolen vehicle to reduce engine power, slowing the vehicle down gradually.
The exact process for Stolen Vehicle Slowdown (at right) goes as follows:
- Once the vehicle has been reported stolen to law enforcement, the subscriber can call OnStar and request Stolen Vehicle Assistance. OnStar will confirm the subscriber has not opted out of the Stolen Vehicle Slowdown service.
- OnStar uses real-time GPS technology to attempt to pinpoint the exact location of the stolen vehicle and provide this information to law enforcement to help them recover the vehicle.
- When law enforcement has established a clear line of sight of the stolen vehicle, law enforcement may request OnStar to slow it down remotely.
- OnStar then sends a remote signal to the vehicle that interacts with the Powertrain system to reduce engine power which will slow the vehicle down gradually.
Worried that the wrong car might be targeted? OnStar insists that “Safeguards will be in place to ensure that the correct vehicle is slowed down.”
Stolen Vehicle Slowdown comes along just as more people are installing automobile kill switches to protect their property, bring down insurance rates and protect innocent bystanders in the event of a high speed chase.
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics, about 30,000 police chases occur yearly and approximately 300 deaths occur as a result of those chases. Kill switches could have a major impact on these casualties.
The German automaker BMW, in
introducing its new “Light Visionary Model” prototype – which it
dubs GINA (Geometry and Functions “N”
Adaptions”) – writes this: “The key to affecting the development
of tomorrow’s mobility lies in our readiness to challenge what is
established and in the ability to present new options.”
I encourage you to watch the short video below. Notice how the
doors and hoods no longer open – they fold and zip open – and how
the lights do open but they “blink” open (much like the human eye),
and I think you’ll agree that BMW’s
innovative thinking could be providing us a glimpse into the future
of what automobiles might look and feel like.
Check out this awesome car/pod prototype that carries up to
three passengers and can pivot on a dime to change directions. I
recall seeing concept drawings of this and thought it was still a
year or two in the future, so I was surprised to come across this
video of a functional, albeit slow, version of the product.
For the life of me, I can’t recall which company is behind this
elegant weird new car. Does anyone know who’s producing this
totally new approach to transport and when I’ll be able to rent one
What Happened? Responding to the US government's request that they provide plans for what they would do with government loans, the Big Three automanufacturers presented their plans. Here's an overview of what they're asking.
The Big Three automakers all describe a 'perfect storm':
- sales down 30% or so from last year due to downturn in economy - credit markets frozen so they can't offer credit to car buyers, accelerating the decrease in sales. - All in various stages of transition to new technology (smaller vehicles, electric vehicles, more fuel efficient gas engines & drive trains, etc.)
'Help us through this rough patch,' they all seem to be saying, 'and we'll help you by not tanking the economy even further.' GM is the most direct in articulating the threat. "A failure by GM will likely trigger catastrophic damage to the U.S. economy..." while Chrysler goes into detail why a bailout is preferable to bankruptcy. Ford's the most upbeat. "We note that Ford is in a different situation from our competitors, in that we believe our Company has the necessary liquidity to weather this current economic downturn – assuming that it is of limited duration."
“Might this be a first step toward a Singularity X-Prize? :) What do you think a “Singularity University” might consist of?”
I address these questions directly in comments, but all of the foregoing inspires me to suggest a future X-Prize for the good doctor’s consideration: The Island Hop Challenge.
Here are the terms:
A $10 million prize to the first vehicle that can travel from Staten Island in New York to Coronado Island in California, within a six day period and using only the fuel carried by the vehicle at the start of the challenge (plug-in recharge of electric vehicles is forbidden, but an on-board mechanism to re-fill the internal fuel storage is permitted if such is powered from the vehicles on-board power system).