This weekend scientists were able to measure freeway pollution when a 10-mile section was shut down for construction. The results were surprising. Within minutes of the traffic shut-down, air quality for the region improved by 83%. It also improved by 75% in the surrounding cities and 25% for the 30 miles in every direction.
The findings even shocked the scientists, from UCLA News:
“The air was amazingly clean that weekend,” Suzanne Paulson said. “Our measurements in Santa Monica were almost below what our instruments could detect, and the regional effect was significant. It was a really eye-opening glimpse of what the future could be like if we can move away from combustion engines.”
But just as quickly as the clean air came it was gone. Within a week of cars returning the pollution levels were back to normal. Still, it gives a peek into a future with electric vehicles and much cleaner air.
Read the full article – ‘Carmaheaven’: Closure of 405 in 2011 improved air quality up to 83 percent
Continue reading Close a 10-mile section of highway – air quality immediately improves by 83%
The biggest problem with driving an electric vehicle (EV) is not driving from home to work. It’s the long trips and vacations that scare people – beyond the EV’s range of 75-150 miles per charge. They need a network of charging stations, like gas stations, placed along highway routes for all the popular destinations.
And while the major car manufacturers are content to let governments and utility companies build these – Tesla has announced they will build their own. The company has six in operation in California and plans for twelve by next year. After that, if sales continue to grow, building 100s of them nationwide – allowing you to drive an EV from Los Angeles to New York.
And like all things Elon Musk does – these will be sleek, high technology, sustainable devices. Powered by solar technology, giving a 150 mile charge in 30 minutes, and free for Tesla drivers – while giving energy back to the grid.
For comparison, the standard models on the market offer 16-31 miles for a 30 minute charge.
Continue reading Tesla announces network of free charging stations powered by solar energy
From David Pogue:
You can still use Google’s maps — on the Web. Visit maps.google.com…You won’t get spoken directions, but you’ll get written directions, public transportation details, live traffic reports and, of course, Google’s far superior maps and data.
He also says Google’s Street View will be coming to iOS devices, and for local restaurants there is the app – Google+ Local. And that should make this a complete workaround.
iPhone owners are rooting for Apple Maps to be a winner, but in the meantime we need to get where were going.
Visit Google Maps for more features available in this workaround.
Continue reading Apple Maps workaround – maps.google.com – get the features of Google Maps
The plug-in epidemic is spreading:
Electric cars now primary vehicles
Nine out of 10 owners said plug-in vehicles represent their primary ride — though almost all had a second, conventional car, according to a survey with more than 1,400 respondents released this month.
Monthly mileage averaged about 800 — the equivalent of almost 10,000 miles a year.
These are not hybrids, but the plug-into your garage kind. Pretty awesome…I keep dreaming about the day I will own one!
Continue reading Majority of owners use electric vehicle as primary car
Technology is at its best when it makes people’s lives better, and that’s precisely what we’re going for with our self-driving car project. We’re using advanced computer science to try and make driving safer and more enjoyable.
Our vehicles, of which about a dozen are on the road at any given time, have now completed more than 300,000 miles of testing. They’ve covered a wide range of traffic conditions, and there hasn’t been a single accident under computer control.
We’re encouraged by this progress, but there’s still a long road ahead. To provide the best experience we can, we’ll need to master snow-covered roadways, interpret temporary construction signals and handle other tricky situations that many drivers encounter. As a next step, members of the self-driving car team will soon start using the cars solo (rather than in pairs), for things like commuting to work. This is an important milestone, as it brings this technology one step closer to every commuter. One day we hope this capability will enable people to be more productive in their cars. For now, our team members will remain in the driver’s seats and will take back control if needed.
With each breakthrough we feel more optimistic about delivering this technology to people and dramatically improving their driving experience. We’ll see you on the road!
Source: Google – The self-driving car logs more miles on new wheels
Continue reading Google puts its self-driving cars to use as commuter vehicles
I was never that impressed with the Tesla Roadster. It’s easy to make an exciting long-range electric car if you don’t bother to making it affordable or practical.
Now comes Tesla’s next trick. The Model S sedan, available with seating for up to seven, is now on sale. Once it’s in full production, prices will range from $50,000 to roughly $100,000.
The view from the driver’s seat was striking. Wherever possible, knobs and physical gauges have been replaced by computer screens.
There isn’t even a “Start” button. If you have the Tesla’s car-shaped key fob in your pocket and your butt is in the driver’s seat the car — quite reasonably — assumes you want it to turn on. So it does.
It runs in “Accessory” mode, allowing you to use the computer screens and listen to the stereo, until you push down the brake pedal. Then the speedometer and other driving gauges appear and the car is ready to roll.
Keep reading: CNN – Tesla Model S review: A good first impression
Continue reading A first look at the Tesla Model S
Japan’s Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry will soon embark on a project to realize an “autopilot system” for automatic driving, a system for guiding motor vehicles on expressways without human assistance.
The system is expected to contribute significantly to such goals as alleviating drivers’ fatigue, preventing road accidents and easing traffic congestion. It would be for vehicles referred to as self-driving cars capable of sensing their environment and navigating by themselves, with people not required to perform any mechanical operation besides choosing their destinations.
With a view to making an autopilot system a reality in the early 2020s, the ministry will launch a study panel of experts this year, to start full-scale discussions about a self-steering vehicle control project.
The ministry envisages an autonomous vehicle system in which, after leaving your home, motorists would enter an interchange of a nearby expressway while manually operating their cars.
When pulling into the expressway’s lane exclusively for the autopilot system, the driving mode would change to “automatic driving” and input your destination into the system. Motorists would take their hands and feet off the steering wheel, gas pedal and brake.
Via – ‘Driverless driving’ envisioned for Japan in early 2020s
Continue reading Japanese government begins plans for driverless driving by 2020
Profiled by a Los Angeles Times travel writer, it reminds me of the $1 DC to NYC bus ride.
One traveler finds the ghost of Jack Kerouac and more on a bus trip up California’s spine. At $1 each way, it has to be the best bargain in all of travel.
Mindful that great American road trips occur in all sorts of vessels — heck, Huck rode a rickety raft — we’re on a Greyhound bus heading up California’s flat, slender belly.
“Why?” you ask.
That’s a sensible question, but let us open our hearts and heads to this for a few seconds:
By the time we’re done, we’ll meet a vagabond grandma and a former prostitute, an impish computer genius and just maybe the ghost of Jack Kerouac, who looked at Greyhound and California’s wide-open roads as gateways to the finest American right of all: the right to wander.
So, climb aboard. No security checkpoints, no luggage fees. No pillows or drink service either, but also no charge. A few of my fellow passengers, some more hollow-eyed than even I, have prison on their faces. A few are students, but most look like the same sorts you see on commercial airlines these days.
The full story – Greyhound Express: new spin on an old-fashioned ride
Continue reading California begins offering $1 trips on Greyhound from LA to SF
If you’ve ever had to slam on the brakes to prevent an accident, you know that the time it takes to get your foot to that pedal can seem like an eternity. Now, German researchers aim to cut that reaction time by getting drivers’ brain waves to help stop the car. Their findings appear in the Journal of Neural Engineering.
When you’re behind the wheel, or doing anything physical, your brain knows what it wants you to do before your body swings into action. Most times, this minor delay between thinking and doing is no big deal. But when you’re moving at 60 miles an hour and the car in front of you stops short, every fraction of a second counts.
Researchers recorded how quickly volunteers reacted when the lead vehicle in a driving simulator suddenly hit the brakes. Sensors monitored the subjects’ brain activity. Turns out drivers knew they needed to slow down more than a tenth of a second before they tap the brakes.
That might not seem like much, but if cars could read minds, they could stop 12 feet sooner at highway speeds. Which could mean the difference between a scare and a smash.
Listen to the podcast version of this story – Brain Brakes Car Faster Than Foot
Continue reading Our brains can brake a car faster than our feet
“I’d rather sit on batteries than a tank of gas, in terms of explosion risk,” says Olivier Chalouhi, who became the world’s first Nissan LEAF owner when he took delivery of one in late 2010. It is a sentiment that Patrick Wang, one of the first to own the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt, shares. “There’s a ton more energy in gasoline than in the battery pack—so to me it’s not a concern at all,” he says.
The only safety concern among a small sample of EV owners interviewed in conjunction with the May EVS26 electric vehicle symposium in Los Angeles relates to pedestrians’ obliviousness to the quiet electric drivetrain. Chalouhi, whose LEAF is equipped with an automatic pedestrian-alert sounder, says he has not had any such issues. Yet Wang, whose Volt is equipped with a driver-actuated pedestrian-alert sound, says that sometimes in parking lots pedestrians have not noticed him, so he activated the chirping noise.
Maintenance and driving range
Given that the battery pack is the single most expensive part on the vehicle—some estimates are up to 45 percent of the total cost of the vehicle—questions have been raised as to how frequently it will need to be replaced.
via Nick Chambers – Scientific American
Continue reading Electric Car Owners Dish on Their Real-World EV Experiences