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Automotive Technology

The Automotive Technology Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about electrical/electronic components, materials, design & assembly, and powertrain systems. Here, you'll find everything from application ideas, to news and industry trends, to hot topics and cutting edge innovations.

Reinventing the Wheel

Posted August 20, 2014 12:00 AM by IHS GlobalSpec eNewsletter

Two materials companies have teamed up with a German automaker to reinvent the wheel. Instead of metal, the new configuration will be a composite made of a high heat-resistant thermoplastic polyetherimide (PEI) resin. Kringlan Composites of Switzerland is using the groundbreaking Ultem resin from chemicals maker Sabic to design a wheel that not only offers superior performance but may one day replace those made of metal and aluminum alloy - helping automakers reduce weight, cut emissions, and lower manufacturing costs.

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5 comments; last comment on 08/23/2014
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Manufacturing Goes Virtual

Posted July 24, 2014 12:00 AM by IHS GlobalSpec eNewsletter

Ford's IntoSite pilot project takes manufacturing into the virtual world, eliminating much of the risk of innovation, enabling global collaboration, and honing a tool that can optimize production processes. The IntoSite cloud-based application uses Google Earth technology and unified communications to share data, better understand manufacturing processes (see video), and enable navigation through 2D and 3D versions of assembly plants.

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Plug-in Sales Outpace Previous Hybrids

Posted July 08, 2014 12:00 AM by IHS GlobalSpec eNewsletter

Plug-in hybrid and electric car sales are far ahead of those of first generation hybrids at the same stage in each technology's development. A report from IHS Automotive says that at the end of 2013, Nissan's Leaf had sold 100,000 units and Chevy's Volt 70,000. When first introduced, the Toyota Prius sold 52,000 as of its fourth year of production. The report adds plug-in sales should surge even more with Ford's introduction of the C-Max Energi plug-in (video) in Europe this year.

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6 comments; last comment on 07/09/2014
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How Will Driverless Cars Respond to Emergencies?

Posted July 04, 2014 12:00 PM by IHS GlobalSpec eNewsletter

Decision-making software in driverless cars must cope with significant challenges. Suppose the car must choose between colliding with a pedestrian or a car full of people, or colliding with a relatively crash-resistant Volvo or a more vulnerable Mini Cooper. In the second case, the laws of physics suggest opting for the Volvo, which will likely suffer less damage. As this article from Wired magazine suggests, liability law may not agree. Learn how seemingly sensible programming design could very well present ethical challenges.

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17 comments; last comment on 07/09/2014
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Chinese Propose Asia America Rail Link

Posted June 30, 2014 12:00 AM by IHS GlobalSpec eNewsletter

As fantastic as it may sound, railway experts at the Chinese Academy of Engineering are said to be discussing a high-speed rail line from Beijing to North America. The proposed line would include a 125 km (78 mi) underwater tunnel connecting Siberia and Alaska - four times the length of the Channel Tunnel between England and France. Assuming an average speed of 350 km/hr, a one-way trip would take at least two days. While the engineering challenge is daunting, some argue the impact on world trade and shipping would justify the project.

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28 comments; last comment on 07/02/2014
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Red Light Cameras: Is It Time To Admit Mistakes?

Posted June 25, 2014 2:17 PM by HUSH
Pathfinder Tags: autmotive CAMERA traffic transportation
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Red light cameras tend to create a bit of a controversy whenever they are considered. Here in New York, if you stay out of the Big Apple itself, it's unlikely you'll encounter one since they are prohibited in cities with a population of less than one million. And if you are driving in NYC, you're crazy rich anyway so what's a few red light tickets?

While red light cameras were first enacted in Israel in 1969, New York was actually home to the unfortunate incident which seriously spurned the development and popularity (and subsequent unpopularity) of red light cameras. In 1982 a careless motorist hit a toddler in a stroller and a media firestorm ensued. Politicians advocated that technology could provide an ever-watching eye over busy intersections, and one thing to know about New York City is this: they want to monitor you all the time forever. Just in the past two years they've prohibited large fountain sodas and selling tobacco to anyone under 21.

Anyway, these cameras are typically placed at intersections where there have been pedestrian accidents in the past, or where red light running can be a frequent occurrence. The cameras utilize induction loops embedded in the asphalt to estimate the car's speed. Based on this measurement, if the software believes a car is unlikely to stop for the light, it takes two photos: one right before the car enters the intersection, and one as it crosses. This is forwarded to a police department for review, who issue violations or citations.

But red light cameras have many, many drawbacks. Let's see:

  • Sometimes a bug, a bird, fog, or any other object can obscure the photo, meaning it's impossible to accurately identify a license plate. Some jurisdictions require a photo of the driver as well. When not enough photo evidence exists, some places resort to "snitch tickets." An affidavit, which resembles a ticket but is my no means a citation, is mailed to the presumed vehicle owner. If they're dumb enough, or exceptionally honest, the owner will admit the infraction, and this confession develops into a fine and ticket.
  • Traffic fines are a reliable source of income for small governments. When these governments come to expect revenue from traffic fines, and begin to notice shortfalls, red light cameras are liable for abuse. A town in Italy synchronized light cameras at adjacent intersections to coax drivers into either speeding or running the light.
  • Small towns and cities may choose to have a third party review red light camera reports if the local police do not have the manpower to do so. The legitimacy of infractions issued by these contract-services is often disputed.
  • In California, 7,600 traffic tickets that were issued using intersection cameras were dismissed, rescinded, or refunded because studies showed the duration of the yellow light was not enough warning to brake and stop the vehicle before the light turned red. In this instance, basic physics principles were ignored. As of 2014, a new U.S. national requirement states all yellow lights must have a minimum duration of 3 seconds and a maximum duration of 6 second.
  • Finally, and most importantly, hundreds of studies have been inconclusive about the safety effects of red light cameras. The consensus seems to be that how much they improve safety varies intersection to intersection. Most studies have found a reduction in injury-causing and t-bone car collisions, but an increased in rear-end collisions. While driver safety has improved, sometimes the result is a higher number of vehicle accidents overall.

Some studies and agencies have promoted other mechanisms: improve traffic light visibility and conspicuity; improve signage around intersections; program the light to have a brief all-red cycle; and monitor neighboring traffic lights and traffic frequency to eliminate unnecessary red lights. Ultimately, these concepts require some infrastructure redesign, and don't offer the revenue stream that red light cameras do.

So here we have one instance where a technologically advanced monitoring system hasn't made our processes noticeably safer or more efficient. Is it a problem with how it's been implemented, or have we finally found a task that our systems can't adapt to because there as just too many specifications?


Wikipedia - Red light camera

Federal Highway Administration - Making Intersections Safer...

108 comments; last comment on 07/08/2014
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