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Commentator

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Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/27/2010 8:09 AM

After reading a number of past posts regarding alternate energy personal vehicles I decided to pose the question to my students. They came up with a number of unique and interesting ideas and so I thought that I would propose the same question to the great, international minds within this community.

When we discuss personal transportation, we seem to always be limited by the idea that a vehicle should meet all of our transportation needs. That is to say that if we commute say 40 miles per day and take a family vacation one week per year, the vehicle should meet both of those needs. I like many weekend warriors do not expect my vehicle to haul a couple hundred pounds of building materials and so I hook up my trusty trailer to my Blazer and proceed. At times, the trailer is not sufficient and so I drive to the nearest rental store and grab a bigger truck.

My point, and therefore my question, is that this discussion in America always seems to be black and white. As an example, a number of contributors to this forum will routinely respond that electric vehicles are not viable because they will not go the distance, but as one of my students pointed out, their family owns a small IC car for daily use, but when they go on vacation they rent a van with a topper for more storage. If you take the time as our class did, the cost analysis is quite interesting.

I will pass on one more of my students ideas and then turn it over the minds on this forum. One student suggested that we take the Volt idea and rather than include the IC motor in the vehicle, to rather make available a small trailer that would include storage and the IC motor for electric power that could be owned or rented when one wants to make a longer trip.

Thank you in advance for any thoughts you might share and have a great day all.

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#1

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/27/2010 9:47 AM

You have to realize that in America the norms that are present, and are past to the children.

IMO

For the most part. Americans love vehicles because they reflect upon themselves. So when looking for a vehicle, they will buy the biggest because they have a project in mind for it, that they may or may not even do. Or not even that, for the younger decisions, this could come from substituting a large vehicle to replace something else in there lives they lack.......like confidence.

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#4
In reply to #1

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/27/2010 1:33 PM

P911,

I understand your sentiment, but given your personal tag line, I would respectfully ask you to pass on comments to my students that are constructive and creative, rather than trying to be cute and critical. Our class works hard to discourage such comments within our discussions and I would ask that you and others please respect this rule for this thread given that students will be reading these replies. Thank you all for your thoughts and consideration.

The question presented the students and to this forum was, given all things considered including American attitudes with regard to vehicles, how can we move forward with our goals for a cleaner and more sustainable form of personal transportation within the United States.

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/27/2010 3:04 PM

I disagree. These are constructive, to advance one has to look at ones environment. Teach your students to look at that environment, and question it. That environment would include yourself, that is if you really are serious to have your students to think out of the box. Or unless you still want to direct them to your style of thinking. Which is not out of the box.

Give your students a chance to think ariginal don't shoot down an idea because it does not fit your preceived requirements .......this would also teach them brainstorming problems, and no idea is silly, stupid or just plain dumb. By keeping an open mind, You may not only be surprised, you may even learn something. We all keep learning and knowledge and ideas can come from anywhere.

The question presented the students and to this forum was, given all things considered including American attitudes with regard to vehicles, how can we move forward with our goals for a cleaner and more sustainable form of personal transportation within the United States.

As I understand your post. Public transportation, is still an option to consider. Unless you still need or want individual personal transportation.

p911

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#9
In reply to #5

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/27/2010 7:20 PM

Thank you for your replay. It was much more thoughtful than your first and my students will appreciate your comments, although I suspect that they will laugh when they consider your comment about them not thinking out of the box. Our sessions get pretty crazy and no ideas are discarded.

Also, if you were in our discussion making the blanket statement as you did to the effect that it is America's lack of self confidence in themselves that drives them to buy bigger vehicles you would find you ideas quickly challenged. Please feel free to elaborate further before I share your comments in class on Monday.

You are correct in assuming mass transit is open game. It became a large portion of our discussion so feel free to share ideas you have that would help to move Americans further into is use.

Thank you again for your ideas.

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#11
In reply to #9

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/27/2010 8:05 PM

I agree with P911 on the confidence issue. Hummers were popular because they were huge. If you drive a huge car, you don't worry about accidents, don't have to learn how to drive well, because all that metal will protect you. Sick.

If you drive a huge car, it's a status symbol. Conspicuous consumption is the American Way. You may be a wimp, but your car is huge. You have finally arrived, are making decent money, buy a huge car. Have a stretch limo, a stretch Hummer, a stretch B&O locomotive, size matters.

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#13
In reply to #9

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/27/2010 9:34 PM

Also, if you were in our discussion making the blanket statement as you did to the effect that it is America's lack of self confidence in themselves that drives them to buy bigger vehicles you would find you ideas quickly challenged.

A challenge is fine.....but take it in context.

If your students are going to be reading, will they be participating?

May be a good idea, for involvement.

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#77
In reply to #13

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/01/2010 9:08 AM

I agree with you in that a lot of males in this country buy vehicles with their mind set on a status symbol. But I differ with you in saying it's a American thing. It's a male image problem the world over. We just consume more then the rest of the world so it's more evident. Consumption is an issue for another discussion.

Look at the high prestige vehicles produced in Europe. You will see we Americans are not alone in our desires to look good in what we drive.

You are right in addressing this image problem in relation to the acceptance more environmentally friendly vehicles. What better place to start then the next generation of drivers. They need to realize that transportation is just means to get from one place to another. Looking good doing it is irrelevant.

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#16
In reply to #9

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 12:39 AM

I'll vote with P911.

Depending upon the family upbringing of the child, and how central vehicles are to the consciousness of that family, and their values, the confidence of the young driver in themselves and their self identity is completely relevant.

When I was growing up as the youngest of 5 males, in an era where we could change engines under the tree, I bought a 1970 plymouth 440 GTX... I was completely into that image of power and sexy. I was afraid enough to back off the hammer and not drive impaired, but many of my friends were decidedly more radical. I'm lucky to have survived. several friends did not.

Many of my notions of cars and transportation were born in that time. The fact that 'sexy' cars are so prevalent in society, (and not just american) is the evidence of the case. Fast cars from europe are just as inspiring to youth in europe. If you have seen the movie "Tokyo Drift", you can see the main characters working out their confidence issues (fear) of speed, competition, danger, women, etc, and finding a greater sense of self identity by the end of the movie.

Mass transit doesn't get sexy until you start to introduce more speed, like europe's TGV, or china's high speed train. (is that a maglev?)

Chris

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#17
In reply to #16

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 1:16 AM

"Mass transit doesn't get sexy until you start to introduce more speed, like europe's TGV, or china's high speed train. (is that a maglev?)"

Come on, now, Chris- sexy is all about slow and easy...Obviously, you have never experienced the joys of a transcontenental rail trip (first class, with sleepers, not the boring economy class...). Now, THAT is sexy...

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#14
In reply to #4

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/27/2010 11:13 PM

I believe Phoenix911's first response was right on target with respect to Americans- for many Americans, selecting a car is about projecting an image. The image being projected may or may not be related to reality. Should your students really want to understand American automobile choices, they will have to understand this basic issue. Another aspect of American car ownership is that it is not unusual for one person (or household) to possess multiple vehicles intended to meet differing needs...

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#30
In reply to #14

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 10:59 AM

good day cwarner7_11,

I believe my other answers were ok also, more so to get it going.

But when I hear a teacher or instructor asked their students to think out of the box. it is only to the extend of, if it in line to the teacher way of thinking. Which is no were near out of the box.

Just because there were no instruction given, is not out of the box thinking. especially when a response comes in that does not align itself with the instructor.

I recall dealing with this in college in a psychology class where we touch off on philosophy. The professor asked each individual in class to describe a chair he put on the table, after the students failed miserably before me with answers like its made from metal, plastic, rubber and such.

When he came to me, I applied an out of the box answer.

my reply was......what chair?

Professor; the chair on the table.

My reply was; what table?

didn't take him long to figure out where I was going with this, the session ended.

So when I hear this crap of out of the box thinking, I'll challenge the seriousness of the intent.

Because, anyone who has done this long enough, like the members here, know good ideas come from anywhere, and at times where lease expected.

p911

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#18
In reply to #4

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 2:34 AM

If p911 was wrong, US city commuters would all be riding the 340 miles per US gallon Honda C50 / Cub.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_Super_Cub.

By a conservative back of the envelope calculation that's 35 times cheaper than public transport on direct fuel costs, not counting capital costs for acquiring the product in either case, which I suspect would also lean heavily in favor of the Honda.

If your students were so extraordinary they would have used the Honda as the starting point from which to beat.

For example, since the proposal was for PERSONAL transportation I fail to see how the hugely expensive Volt, with or without a trailer, would come anywhere near the Honda on any measurement you can think of.

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#19
In reply to #18

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 2:50 AM

velisj,

In case you missed it on the wiki reference;

Fuel Consumption 146 km/L (410 mpg-imp; 340 mpg-US) (30 km/h fixed area travelling test value).

With more than 60 million sold worldwide, it is the best selling powered vehicle of all time.

That's the box you have to think outside of and I haven't heard anything from you or your students that even comes close to the edge, never mind gets outside of.

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#2

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/27/2010 10:57 AM

I drive a pickup truck, because I'm always carrying something; trash, buckets of paint, lumber, etc. I spend a lot of money on fuel. I would love it if my truck was hybrid. There is plenty of room under my truck bed for battery storage, my roof and hood could have solar panels, custom fitted ones would look cool. When stuck in traffic, just inch along in electric. Carrying the extra weight of the batteries is no problem for a truck, would even help with traction in the snow, folks have been known to put dead weight in pickups just for that reason.

But this is all in the box. For out of the box, get America off their high horse and use public transportation.

I saw a show about GM and the EL1, their electric car. It showed a part where all the electric trolleys were bought up and scrapped, so folks would have to buy cars. Thanks, GM, I'll never buy your product again. Ford Rules.

Also on GM and the EL1, maybe if they had the car designed to look good, and not like a Citroen, it may have been better received. The Telsa is great looking.

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/27/2010 11:31 AM

get America off their high horse and use public transportation.

Ga, now thats not thinking out of the box, but utilizing what is existing.

Look at alot of small cities public transportation and how they view it. In college they (the students) referred to it as public dinosaurs, and was not very cool to use it.

This was close to 30 years ago. These same students had both mom and dad working at the paper mill with a combined income of excess $160,000.00 and going to school on grants from the parents company. They never graduated.

When I went to college I used the bus and it was empty....all the time, I stopped using it because my night classes ended after the last stop. I walked the first time, it was over 3 miles away. didn't bother me, I came from a rural area and I was used to it, walking home from the late bus from sports. but I stopped because of the traffic (quality of) in the city at night.

p911

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#15
In reply to #3

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/27/2010 11:45 PM

"Ga, now thats not thinking out of the box, but utilizing what is existing."

But if the car is the box then it is. Give us an example of what is out of the box to your way of thinking.

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#28
In reply to #15

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 10:21 AM

To find or develop something different, first find what you have.....i.e. define the box.

And as you define the box, you define a reference, and as the box is being define you begin to input out of the box thinking.

Understand?

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#6

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/27/2010 5:17 PM

By all means brainstorm ideas (call this "generative brainstorming"). But then equally, brainstorm possible flaws to those ideas (call this "critical brainstorming"). Along with the critical brainstorming, apply known engineering principles to examine the viability of the ideas on the table.

For instance, the trailer idea would allow you to ditch the engine weight on short trips where battery power would suffice. Good idea thus far. But then examine it further. There will be occasional hassles in connecting/disconnecting it, parking difficulties, etc. Then too, the engine in a hybrid is not the heaviest item, so how much (or little) is gained?

Rather than call this process "naysaying," reconsider it as avoidance of problems and inefficiencies.

Teach students not to be downcast or defensive when their ideas are shot down, but rather to move on to other, hopefully better, ideas.

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/27/2010 5:42 PM

ideas evolve....

Maybe a good idea to start a list of types transportation, and catagorize them in forms. then work off of these with possible new ideas. Feel free to add to the already mentioned, such as drawbacks, or pro.....

To start with;

Segway, Small, Electric power, multiple driver input contril.

Horse, large, high maintenance, multiple driver input contril.

Bicycle, mid to small, low maintenance, multiple driver input contril. reliable

ect.....

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#8

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/27/2010 5:52 PM

Thinking outside the box varies by what box you may be in in the first place. My line of work requires that I drive a large pickup almost every where I go. So for me there are several things I have done to cut down on operating costs.

One is I converted to a far cheaper fuel source. I use propane instead of gasoline on my pickup so my cost per mile is about half or less than that of gasoline.

Two is I plan out my no load trips to maximize what I get for the trip when possible. Many times I have to make parts run to town so on my way back I stop by a number of local businesses and pick up wood pallets and haul them home for fire wood that I can use for heating my home. Its free fuel and it also give those types of trips a sort of financial off set on what the fuel used was justified for. I didn't waste 5 gallons of fuel for a trip but I spent 5 gallons of fuel to bring home a weeks worth of heating material that is worth far more in offset costs elsewhere.

Three I disable the emission systems and make other modifications on every vehicle I own so that I can gain additional fuel savings by increasing fuel efficiency. Some times viewing the political aspects of what increases your fuel usage or costs because of parasitic losses on the vehicle due to political regulations is worth factoring in.

If environmentalists say its good and politicians back it up take a very close look at it because it more likely just a cleaver smoke and mirrors tactic used to get more money and control over what you do. Understand the physics, chemistry and overall impacts of what they want you to do. What looks good on paper and looks right close up may very well be worse than doing nothing at all when viewed in the big picture of things.

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#10

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/27/2010 7:27 PM

Another area our class looked at closely was the concept of the embedded energy both within the vehicle and the energy system including delivery. We limited the social and political costs within the discussion for no other reason than we were limited for time, but I would love to tackle that one with them at a later date.

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#12
In reply to #10

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/27/2010 9:31 PM

what age level is this class of yours?

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#25
In reply to #12

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 6:22 AM

9th-10th

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#29
In reply to #25

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 10:28 AM

Teenagers........interesting. They have to be prepared, and not just teenager attitude.

for me it seems 16 years ago was yesterday.......and I'm only 49.

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#38
In reply to #29

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 11:34 AM

me2=49

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#40
In reply to #38

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 11:39 AM

happy birthday........

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#20

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 2:52 AM

I find it interesting how people generalize the motivation behind American's (or any other country's citizen) choose what cars to buy. Granted there are a lot who may choose a car for how sexy or powerful it is. I haven't purchased a Ferrari despite many hours of my youth watching Magnum P.I. Maybe when I go through my mid-life crisis I will.

But seriously, people choose their vehicles for numerous reasons:

  • Style (sexy?)
  • Performance (power)
  • Image (goes along with style i suppose)
  • Make up for lack of confidence (related to image)
  • Fuel efficiency
  • Utility (purchasing a truck because you haul a lot of stuff or a large vehicle to tow a boat, etc.)
  • Size (need to transport family members)
  • Safety
  • Cost
  • Reliability
  • Practicality (weighted combination of all the above)

I'm sure not everyone is like me and puts together an Excel spreadsheet when then decide it's time to shop for a new vehicle, but I think most people consider some of the factors I've mention and others I haven't thought of when buying a vehicle. I will admit there are those who choose for a more superficial reason, maybe even a significant number, but it's disingenuous to make such a sweeping generalization about such a diverse population.

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#21

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 3:29 AM

You want "out off the box" ideas?

Here's four:

1. Make it easier for people to have two cars by changing the regulation of insurance companies to require them to have separate insurance policies for cars and people. Why should the car carry liability insurance? Cars can't drive themselves except in very unusual circumstances (like a uninsured driver uses the car without permission). People should be insured in order to get a driver's license. If someone else drives your car they are completely liable for the results of their driving and immune from liability regardless of whether the condition of the car contributed to the loss. Cars would only be insured like other pieces of personal property, i.e. against their specific damage or loss. This would make it much less expensive for someone to own two or more vehicles for different purposes.

2. Require all companies with more than a certain number of employees to provide transportation at cost to a percentage of employees who commute more than say 3 miles to work and require that the employer pay for work time begining with boarding the transit vehicle and ending with exiting on the way home. Pickup points would have to be no more than some predetermined walking distance from the employee's home. Since employees would be in "working status" during this commute the employer would be encouraged to make productive use of that time by having the employee work on a portable computer or on some other form of productive work while traveling.

3. Change all vehicle emmision requirements from parts per million exhaust composition to weight of emmisions per mile. Part of the fuel tax would be based on the emission numbers and would be read off a magnetic stripe on the registration card or a transponder on the car. Out of state visitors would have to apply for special cards to buy gas at the "clean car" discount if their state didn't have a compatible system. Fuel purchases without the "card" such as into portable containers would pay the top amount of emission tax on each gallon.

4. Provide low speed limit (20-25 mph max.) commuter corridors with some portions having vehicle size limits (1500 lb, 90 inch max wheelbase?) and rigid zero tolerance enforcement to encourage use of small efficient vehicles. (motor scooter lanes?)

Ed Weldon

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#23
In reply to #21

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 4:16 AM

Ed,

I like your first suggestion. It makes sense. I wonder if one reason which makes it difficult to implement has to do with enforcement.

Under the current system (I'm speaking from experience in FL), if I lend someone without insurance my car and they have an accident, there is liability coverage. It's easy for an officer driving by the car to determine the likelihood of a vehicle being insured or not as license plates are renewed yearly and require proof of insurance to renew.

Under your proposed arrangement, I could be insured personally for liability lend my insured car to someone who does not have insurance (or not even have insurance myself) and go out for a drive. How does law enforcement easily identify uninsured drivers? Driver's licenses are renewed much less frequently (every 10 years or so in FL).

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#26
In reply to #21

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 6:31 AM

We discussed the idea of taxes and how they relate or don't to usage. Your response 3 will be good for further discussion on that mark. Thanks!

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#34
In reply to #21

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 11:25 AM

Ed, your answers are usually good, but I don't like these. Like the next poster says, insurance has to be on the car for a lot of reasons. There is comprehensive to cover your car's damage from whatever, and liability is another thing altogether.

Paying for commuting is way out there. There are folks who do ridiculous commutes because they are too stubborn to find work close to home, or are so elitist that they just have to live in a certain neighborhood. And a factory worker can't do factory work on a laptop, can't afford a laptop, and doesn't have a safe place to put the laptop at work. Imposing responsibility on an employer for commuting workers is onerous.

Emissions and taxes are messed up enough, thank you.

Japan, and other countries I'm sure, have dedicated bicycle lanes wherever available. It's a great idea. The little electric cars are cute, but are going to have to keep up with traffic or keep to the slower parts of the highway. We have some here, but the maximum speed here is 35mph. They are ideal town cars.

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#37
In reply to #21

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 11:32 AM

I disagree with these.

Having been in California for work, some people commute over 3 hours a day. The employees pick the job. It should not be the employers responsibility to subsidies the employees travel, unless its a short term transplant.

Now developing a public tranportaion system for this kind of environment in CA would be difficult.

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#53
In reply to #21

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 2:09 PM

3. Change all vehicle emmision requirements from parts per million exhaust composition to weight of emmisions per mile.

???? The standards have been in (fractions of) grams-per-mile for decades.

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#56
In reply to #53

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 2:50 PM

Blink -- You and I must be talking about two different standards. I'm just going by the "ASM Emission Test Results" on California "Smog check Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR)". That report gives either % readings or PPM readings which is all you could expect to read from the transducer they stick in the car's tailpipe during the smog test.

I suppose you are talking about Federal Government standards. I'm not real familiar with them although I suppose I should be given my inclination to express opinions in this community of ours. Perhaps the CA computers put publishied mileage for a given make and model into the calculation to come up with an acceptance limit for PPM and % numbers for a given vehicle in the actual smog test?

Any of you guys out there able to clarify this for me? ...........Ed Weldon

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#96
In reply to #56

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/02/2010 10:43 PM

Hi Ed,

Yes I am talking about the federal standards. The states measure in PPM because it is easier and quicker. For the Fed standards, whole drive cycles are performed with cool down times, soak times etc, etc. Horribly expensive test to perform, but it gives a good indication of actual emissions in actual driving, and is relatively hard to game. It is harder for a heavy car to pass the tests than it is for a light car, if all else is equal. Probably a reasonable situation, if you want to minimize overall pollution.

In many states, the PPM is then compared to the specs for each specific car model, so that a small car's PPM can be higher than a large car's. However, now most of this is a moot point, because in most states the car's computer is relied upon for emission tests, for all cars from 1996 on.

Usually this works fine, although if you fix an emission problem on your car and then go to have it tested, chances are very good that the computer will say "Not Ready for Test" until you accumulate mileage (while the computer does many checks). This can be a royal pain, although many states will give you a temporary waiver (which I found out after driving around with an expired plate, waiting for my car to gather enough data to test). (You can accelerate the process by going through a quite complicated and potentially dangerous set of drive cycles, but even then it takes three cool down cycles to stone cold... generally meaning at least three days) One would think that a dealer could force the codes... but no such luck.

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#97
In reply to #96

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/03/2010 12:24 AM

Thanks, Blink. This is really good information. And it suggests that the sooner one takes his vehicle for smog testing the better.

The relevance of this to the discussion at hand is obvious. Under the current rule structure the smaller the vehicle the easier it will be to meet emission requirements.

Small low powered vehicles will not be as capable of high speeds as the current popular large vehicles since the design of both requires frontal area and therefore aerodynamic drag demanded by two people seated side by side. So while acceleration performance at low speeds will be primarily a function or power to weight ratio the larger car with the same power to weight ratio will not necessarily see the same proportional increase in frontal area that handicaps maximum vehicle speed as well as mileage.

I'm not sure I am explaining this very well; but the point I am driving toward is that smaller vehicles will work well if highway speeds are reduced well below current practice thereby reducing the incentive to drive in a larger vehicle that presumably gives enhanced crash protection. What I would like to see is an objective analysis of just how efficient the current practice of highway driving speeds really is, especially in terms of time savings.

I think we as a society need to confront objectively and in number terms just what we are getting out of driving these 2 ton monsters at 70 MPH to get from one place to another. How much is genuine improvement in the efficiency of human endeavors and how much is ego and sensory satisfaction. While we can't easily put numbers on the latter I think it is important for all of us to know what our selection of transportation choices is costing us.

By now you probably know where I stand in all of this. With respect to this forum subject I want to encourage the OP and his students to creatively explore efficient means of personal transportation and to the extent that they can look out of the box consider the wider aspects of the personal transportation equation.

I firmly believe that our culture is at a point where we need to come to grips with this idea that a necessary function of our personal transportation choices is to provide a significant measure of ego gratification and physical, mental and emotional pleasure. We need to look elseware to find more efficient means to satisfy these personal needs.

I myself made that choice a long time ago. My principal transportation vehicle was chosen entirely to fill my genuine utilitarian needs. There is nothing "cool about a 2wd Toyota pickup with an automatic transmission. For "cool" I have a 32 Ford hot rod that is purely a recreational vehicle as well as an interesting racing vehicle currently under construction. I cannot imagine either of these toys ever serving as "utility" personal transportation tools.

Perhaps the way I do my vehicles suggests why I have made the suggestions about changing the insurance scheme. There are a lot of folks like me that could use a little financial motivation to separate the utility function of our transportation needs from the recreational function so we can set aside the idea of commuting to work or shopping in a 2-1/2 ton "monster".

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#88
In reply to #21

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/02/2010 12:28 PM

Why should the car carry liability insurance? Cars can't drive themselves except in very unusual circumstances (like a uninsured driver uses the car without permission).

What about children and other passengers? This segues into the health insurance debacle. I carry medical coverage for passengers.

Require all companies with more than a certain number of employees to provide transportation at cost to a percentage of employees who commute more than say 3 miles to work and require that the employer pay for work time begining with boarding the transit vehicle and ending with exiting on the way home.

I commute 45 miles each way. This just means no one would employ me.

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#90
In reply to #88

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/02/2010 2:07 PM

Jaen -- About children and other passengers: If you were the insured then an obvious coverage for you as the driver is to cover any passengers in a car being driven by you for all risks until some health care coverage takes a position of greater liability. In such a case the car and its owner(s) have no liability. In this situation it becomes incumbent on you the driver to make sure the vehicle is safe to drive. Inherent in such a legal framework would be very specific limitations of liability for the vehicle owners and perhaps exceptions such as a deliberate act by the owner to disable a safety system in the vehicle.

This would make vehicles no different than other personal property. Like if you loan your chain saw to a friend and he injures himself or someone else or accidentally cuts down another neighbor's tree should you be liable as the owner of the chain saw? Perhaps you will be if the case goes to court. If your homeowner's insurance provides blanket protection that's great. If not then the case outcome depends on the law, common or statutory. But if the statutes specifically exempt you the owner of the saw from any civil liability then you re covered by the law.

In my scenario here what I'm saying is "Why should my motor vehicle be any different than any other tool when it comes to owner liability?"

Relative to mandated company provided home to work transportation: This is one of those things that would have to be pretty well crafted as a legal thing because there are a lot of folks like yourself who would come out on the short end of the deal, especially in times of labor surplus like we're in these days. I'm not sure it would ever be feasible for hourly paid workers unless we were like China where large numbers of workers live in dormitories or "company towns" like in past centuries in the USA. (Uhhh....YUK)

But there may be some merit to the idea for salaried and especially exempt professional and managerial workers. Most of these folks spend a good part of their working time on the computer. There is strong research evidence to show that beyond a certain number of hours per day productivity diminishes substantially for these folks. We also know that in many geographical areas these higher paid folks tend to live in clusters in upscale communities some substantial commuting time from where they work.

Supposing that you could board a special company bus a short distance from home. (perhaps at the local mall where there would be parking available and the local merchants would benefit from being right there for shopping each day when you board or get off the bus). Now this bus would be equipped with seating like in the business class of airliners with wireless connections to the net. You get on the bus, sit down, put your coffee cup in the holder and turn on your computer or handheld and go to work. All the unproductive effort of driving has just gone away. And so do the costs.

Now you may happen to need to run an errand of the type you did at lunchtime when you drove to work. If the company is operating a bus fleet it might as well also operate a small fleet of reservable passenger cars available for such errands. This could well include some inexpensive short range urban vehicles. One little problem is legally mandated lunch hours for employees. There is little practical enforcement of these laws for many work situations where employers can be flexible about when people go to lunch. But a specific legal exclusion for certain types of workers could be easily crafted to give the employer greater formal latitude in scheduling lunch breaks. With this latitude it would be practical to spread out the utilization of the "lunch car" fleet through the whole day and thus require fewer vehicles.

In the last couple of decades of relative prosperity for engineering professionals we have tended to get away from the carpooling thing and build our lives around the availability of our own car. A lot of us may be too young to have experienced the carpooling during the 1970's gasoline shortages. I carpooled three days a week for 3 years. (the other two days I had to take diapers to the Laundromat and haul a 25 gallon water tank). I learned something interesting about carpooling. It forced you to get your work done in a fixed time period and it greatly discouraged managers and others from letting meetings involving us carpoolers drag on late in the afternoon. Many times at 5 or 10 minutes before my carpool left I'd simply get up and leave a meeting and if met with questioning looks I'd say "gotta meet my carpool". The carpooling stopped when I changed jobs.

And the workday, not counting the commute, seems to have grown for exempt engineers from 8 to around 10 when I retired in 2002 and now, according to my son, also an engineer, to 12 plus an average of one weekend day each week. I guess the employers are getting more productivity out of their engineers these days. But at what cost?

Ed Weldon

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#22

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 3:58 AM

I think one reason people purchase vehicles beyond that appear to be more than they need is flexibility. Or worded differently, we aren't always aware of when we will need what.

I would very much like to have a more fuel efficient vehicle (I drive a 2003 Honda Accord). Sure I could get a smaller car...or motorcycle, but when I get to work, I may find that I need to go by the store and pick up some stuff, or take some customers to lunch, or a number of other things. Even though one's short terms needs may dictate a specific choice, if one is looking to keep the vehicle for 10 years they may make an entirely different choice. So the choice is a balance of short term and long term needs and convenience. .

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#24

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 5:05 AM

It's simply, one size does not fit all. Then add to the mix various
reasons, preferences, and motivations, and the soup is endless.

Students by nature (rightly) are revolutionary; not evolutionary.
Happy years, unappreciated 'till past. Success prevails on utility.

The irony is, it is the casual remark, the flash of inspiration, the
dedication of thought towards a target, which influences the score.

Guide the students to dissect a problem, and find a solution in utility.
All the rest is window dressings for the pleasures of life.

jt.

In God we can trust, unfortunately everyone else has to pay.

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#27

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 10:01 AM

I like the suggestion of a trailer with a "power supply" that can be used by multiple vehicles. I'd like to see some designs that could allow people to "build" your own "green" vehicle. For example, a pickup truck that has an electric engine option, that could be powered by batteries placed under the truck bed as someone suggested. Or maybe recharged by a simple Honda generator running in the bed of a pickup. Put some work into designing a new vehicle that can be customized for individual use by the individual, rather than for every use by everyone. If I could select an all electric option with a basic recharged system, then customize it with aftermarket parts to make best use for my needs, I'd make better use of it.

Instead of mass-production of "everyman" vehicles, mass produce the building blocks and develop a system of local assembly shops with trained personnel, to build just what you want from those parts.

Just a few ideas from an idle mind!

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#43
In reply to #27

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 11:41 AM

Chrisg288 has started a rather extensive blog here on CR4 relating to modular vehicle design that may be of interest...

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#45
In reply to #43

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 11:51 AM

kinda like the Jetsons with George dropping off his boy Elroy, His daughter Judy, and Jane....His wife.

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#31

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 11:09 AM

To those who are honestly responding to a class of 9th and 10th grade technology students with constructive suggestions, let me say thanks from both myself and my students.

To those who continue with the usual diatribe about consumptive Americans and their need for large, polluting vehicles to enhance their lack of self confidence, I can only say that you have missed an opportunity to have a positive dialog with a small group of today's youth. Even my students seem to understand at a fundamental level that stepping out of the box is great for coming up with ideas, but to really implement change, one needs to do more than criticize the ideology of a group. You need to bring forward solutions that will solve the issues while not alienating people you are looking to influence.

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#33
In reply to #31

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 11:22 AM

velisj:

You have to remember, this is not about you, its about your students.

Opportunities have been presented to you repeatedly. its up to you to reconized and take advantage of them.

It is too bad that the opportunities do not align themselves with your way of thinking or teaching.

p911

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#48
In reply to #33

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 12:14 PM

You are correct when you say that it is not about myself or you for that matter.

You are also correct when you say that your comments do not mesh with my methods in the classroom. I do not present my ideologies in any fashion and I work to teach my students to recognize when someone is forcing their values on them. It is only when they recognize the source for what it is that they can make a value judgment of their own and it is those judgments that will stick with them and help to form their value system as they grow older.

I would encourage you to spend more time in actual dialogue with young people in the future. You seem to want to talk at rather than talk to. You might be pleasantly surprised regarding just what they have to offer.

Me, I am off to gather up a van load of young people and take them skiing!

Have a grand afternoon.

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#41
In reply to #31

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 11:40 AM

The Emperor has no clothes. Quite apropos, and out of the box as children's stories go.

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#46
In reply to #31

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 11:55 AM

If you do not understand the motivations that drive certain behavior, you have no chance of modifying that behavior, or understanding whether the alternatives you are proposing are really addressing the issue you are trying to impact. The junkyards of the world are full of failed attempts to offer a "better solution". One hundred years ago, electric automobiles far outnumbered automobiles with internal combustion engines. Why did the technology fail to maintain market share? What are you proposing for the future that will address this failure? Fifty years ago, public transportation was readily available in most major urban centers in the US. Why has this concept fallen by the wayside in the US? If you don't understand the reasons, you have no chance to alter the attitudes that drive today's perceived needs.

Focusing on the situation in the US is helpful because the US represents the largest world market for the automobile, and because, in many parts of the world, there is a tendency to want to emulate the life style many people perceive is the norm in the US (noting, of course, such perceptions may or may not be based in reality).

Personal transportation is far more, to many people, than just a technology to get from point a to point b, and not just in the US. If this is not recognized in your thinking, you are spinning your wheels.

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#47
In reply to #46

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 12:04 PM

this may have started out innocently enough, but one can quickly realize the impact.

The OP may be looking for an answer, but did not realize the answer will more then likely (will) be a compromise.

This is what separates between the learning and the learned and experienced. There will be no definite answer because this is not a text book. Very good experience for the students.

p911

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#49
In reply to #46

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 12:22 PM

Personal transportation is far more, to many people, than just a technology to get from point a to point b, and not just in the US. If this is not recognized in your thinking, you are spinning your wheels.

Excellent point. Telling others to take public transportation some times is like telling us rural dwellers to move into town and live in apartments because it is safer and cheaper than living out in the country. BS!. I have lived that city life style before and I will just as soon die or kill someone before I will go back.

It may work well and be right for some but it is not right and does not work for all. Its also the biggest issue behind why some of us have bigger vehicles. Its not an ego thing but its more of a multi level personal fit thing. I am 6' 3" and 250# so I just don't fit into smaller vehicles comfortably. My line of work and life choices dictate that I have to use larger vehicles as well. I know I am safer in crash because I have the structural and mass advantage. Tough luck if your driving the little economizer car that I ran over. That was your decision to drive it not mine.

Largely for many others like me its because we have tried the other alternatives and found them to be lacking in enough of the necessities for our applications that great fuel mileage just does not justify us owning a small vehical.

I have work and lifestyle reasons that justify my having to drive a 4.5 ton 400 HP 12 MPG truck because that is what I need. I dont like knowing that it could do better on fuel because some tree hugging Eco twit got some politician to mandate that it has to get worse mileage to save the world because it looks good on paper and makes THEM "feel good".

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#50
In reply to #49

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 12:33 PM

Telling others to take public transportation some times is like telling us rural dwellers to move into town and live in apartments because it is safer and cheaper than living out in the country.

That is a stretch, One has to realize that public transportation is usually setup for the city. I was in Benzonia, Michigan (small town, maybe 1,000 - 2,000 people?) last summer on a number of occasions for a total of about 4 weeks and for a small rural community that had public transportation. You just had to call in and on their next route come and pick you up, at your drive way. The rural population used this quite often, students and taxpayers.

They started this about 2 years prior. Hopeful they can afford to keep it running. Just being greener and more efficient does not cut it (pay for itself).

I have lived that city life style before and And had positive results.

I will just as soon die or kill someone before I will go back.

You just reinforced my point from my earlier post #1 and what other posters presented. This is not just a technology issue. Its a social one.

p911

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#61
In reply to #50

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 7:29 PM

My family and I use the local transportation in Benzonia, along with the transit system in the county to the north. Both are great systems, but a prime example of subsidized mass transit. Not really sustainable on a per call basis, but very cool for those of us who use it as long as it lasts and we as taxpayers are willing to support it. And it does come up on a regular basis on the ballot.

So what do you do in the summer when you are up my way P911?

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#66
In reply to #61

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 10:33 PM

I was surprised at the transportation for such a small community.

Had work in the area, so I visited some friends there.

Hope the ski trip went well. I myself just got back from vacation in Colorado Springs.

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#51
In reply to #31

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 12:54 PM

I understand what you are after. ( I think) I took a science class in grade 10 called "Space and Man". most considered it lightweight, but it was very inspiring to me.. paper airplanes, model rockets, physics, etc. loved it. helped form the really special mind I have. Please forgive the long post of images.

Firstly, it is not all about the mechanical technology. Great strides could be made in commuting by creating an organization that cooridinates riders and drivers. (ie web based) If most drivers on the road could go to a system and log their drive times, and advertise their space available, destination, return times /destination, then riders could bid for those slots, on a daily basis, then great value could be created without ever creating a new transportation product. I would recommend some sort of rating system by other riders/drivers that helps protect riders and drivers. (and maybe, ie, police record checks I dunno)

Here are some CONCEPT ART images i've made over the years, and are mostly posted elsewhere on cr4. It is well suited to students imaginations, but be warned that they are untested and certainly not fully engineered. they are not all 'personal' but they are all transportation.

6 person commuter cycle

pedestrian beltway (older solidworks) basically and I-beam with rollers at the ends a motor and handrails. very simple. build hundreds of them. 1 per city block in each direction.

a special electric tram that runs on precast concrete rails. (older solidworks again)

one set of wheels is up while the others are down. the contacts are swing-arms for the given direction.

next the all terrain commuter train/rescue/tour vehicle. land, sea, mud, ice, snow (older solidworks again)

more 'water train' concept art.

variations on the theme. (working out connections between 'cars')

and don't forget flying swimming cars...

one-man copter

I've also started another thread on here about modular vehicle design which may interest you and your class. (be warned its over 400 posts and gets off topic quite a bit)

http://cr4.globalspec.com/thread/49156/Feasibility-Discussion-on-Modular-Vehicles

sample modular vehicles.

and just for fun

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#62
In reply to #51

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 7:44 PM

Hello Chris,

I always enjoy your posts and my class will truly enjoy your concept vehicles. It really is all about opening up the discussion as this thread has shown

I come from a automotive family with many members working in the industry at many levels, but I am very intrigued by the idea of a modular design. I haven't looked at your thread in a while, but I will certainly point my gang in that direction.

Thank you again for taking the time to respond and congratulations on an excellent job with the Olympics! One heck of a hockey game that was, eh!

John

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#64
In reply to #62

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 7:56 PM

Thank you John

tears of joy and goosebumps for a whole nation today... I haven't seen the like since 1972. (although I do love that 1980 us olympic story) I'm proud of every participant, and sad for those who came so close... some really amazing human stories.

on the modular site, I would completely love some creative input from you and your class. I have a few more ideas yet to be posted, but have been diverted by the Haiti thread, working a new job, and the olympics. (amongst other things)

Chris

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#54
In reply to #31

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 2:14 PM

"The question presented the students and to this forum was, given all things considered including American attitudes with regard to vehicles, how can we move forward with our goals for a cleaner and more sustainable form of personal transportation within the United States."

Although you have chided those who bring up the American attitude as missing the point, I think you have missed an important point as well. Attitude is the most important variable in the equation.

If it were just an engineering exercise, then you can ignore attitude. However, you have asked your students to consider attitude, so you have to address it.

Inexpensive, reliable, sustainable transportation has always been available to Americans. As far back as I remember (50 years), small cars that get good gas mileage have always been on the market. Until recently, they never sold well in America. Why? Attitude. It is human nature to want the best that we can afford. "Wants" turn into "needs".

A couple of generations back, cars were a luxury, not a need. Most people could not afford cars and society was structured around this concept. They lived near work and shopping, took the trolley, rode a bike, rode a horse etc. As Americans became more affluent, cars became a "need". In my parents time, each family "needed" one basic car. Today, the norm is that each person of driving age "needs" a car. Families "need" a minivan or SUV. How did we get along without them? I could go on, but I think the concept of real needs vs. perceived needs is clear.

In America, gas has always been relatively cheap, so we "need" SUVs, minivans, Hummers etc. In Europe, where fuel is more expensive, they need smaller vehicles that get better gas mileage. In many developing nations, where both the initial purchase as well as fuel is relatively expensive relative to income, all most families need is a scooter, if that.

Rather than looking at the end result (new forms of transportation), you may want to have your students spend a bit of time on how to shift the perception of need. We 'need" these wasteful forms of transportation only because we can afford them. As other have alluded to, that mindset is unlikely to change without a paradigm shift in attitude. Hybrids are fine, but cars that got 40 mpg have been available since the 70's at least. You can invent all the new vehicles you want, but the truth is, vehicles that meet your criteria of "cleaner and more sustainable form of personal transportation" already exist. Americans simply don't buy them.

How can attitudes change? There are a lot of ways. We are now starting to see a bit of a shift. The ecology movement has been a factor. Hybrids are now seen as status symbols in some circles. Hummers have lost their status symbol position and have died. In Europe, high taxes on fuel have led to much better fuel economy. Would (gasp!) higher fuel taxes have the same effect here in the US? How about a tax based on vehicle weight and/or fuel economy? How about if these additional taxes went towards developing a usable, economical, sustainable public transportation infrastructure?

I realize that you have stated that your students are technology oriented, so the focus is naturally on the technology of transportation. Maybe you feel that the above issues are out of the scope of what you are trying to teach. I understand. But I also feel that you would be doing your students a disservice if you do not at least touch on these issues. Students of technology need to realize that they do not innovate in a vacuum. You can invent the greatest vehicle (or whatever gizmo) in the world. If perceptions, attitudes and economics do not support what you have invented, it is worthless.

So, I agree that those who have stated here that American attitudes will not allow your potential innovations to be fruitful have not been helpful to you or your class. However, if you ignore this reality and do not address it in some way, all your engineering will be for nothing.

Changing a whole society's attitude is probably beyond the scope of a high school technology class. But attitude change can also occur on a more manageable scale. It's called marketing. It may be worthwhile to take a small portion of the lesson to have the students explain how they would convince the American public to buy their world changing design, given the present American attitude.

Just a thought.

So, I think students today need to learn that physical engineering alone won't solve the world's problems. But, a bit of social engineering along with the physical engineering can be an awesome power in changing the world for the better.

Tad

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#57
In reply to #54

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 3:04 PM

Stellar! GA

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#58
In reply to #54

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 3:52 PM

Attitude is unpopular because it does not fit into the curriculum. And with this unpopularity it makes it difficult to next to impossible to "Think out of the Box".

Engineering or product development is not a place called Shan Gri La, but it can be enjoyable and stressful at the same time.

The point that is not registering is everything that is laid out will be subject to criticism. hence compromised drive to the best solution. But it seems that if it does not fit the profiled curriculum it is deemed valueless.

And the "Out of the Box" agenda is nothing but idle words.

When brainstorming, there is no dumb response or opinion.

True brainstorming can be a humbling yet a learning experienced, but brainstorming should be facilitated.

To the inexperienced, alot of energy will be spent on technique, presentation as to not ruffle feathers.

p911

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#63
In reply to #54

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 7:48 PM

Well said and with a lot of thoughts for my students to digest!

Thank you for your time.

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#68
In reply to #54

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/01/2010 1:03 AM

Right on the money.

As a developer of a vehicle that can be seen as decidedly outside the box, I would love to think that people will see the benefits of high efficiency and minimal resource consumption in manufacturing. But I know that people like me will need to work hard at changing attitudes -- the engineering is, by comparison, simple; as you have said, we've always had very efficient vehicles available but people do not buy them in large numbers.

Since 1985, we have (in the US) gone from 24 ton-mpg to 46 ton-mpg (this article is not up to date, but gives the general idea) while tightening emission standards dramatically, and while also getting far more hp per liter. Today's V6 Accord and Camry, about as plane Jane as you can get (by today's standards), out-accelerate the fastest cars of 1985 (including Ferrari, Porsche, etc). But despite huge gains in every aspect of engine performance and fuel efficiency, we've been buying bigger and bigger cars, completely squandering all that engineering development. Therefore, since 1985, the fleet average fuel efficiency has gone down constantly. The most popular vehicle in 1982 was a Ford Escort with a whopping 68 hp. Now the most popular vehicle is a Ford F150, of twice the mass and twice the aero drag.

Mike Jackson, the CEO of Auto Nation (the largest car dealer group in the US) has advocated for higher gas prices, and makes a good case that CAFE standards will not change buying behavior.

We say we want energy independence for security reasons. We say we want to conserve resources used in building new cars (It takes twice as much energy and steel to make an F150 as it does to make a Toyota Yaris.) We say we want to emit less CO2. We say we want clean air in cities like Atlanta, where the air is so dirty (mainly from car emissions) that old folks and asthma sufferers are frequently warned to avoid going out. But we shout, with buying behavior, "We do not care."

Even in electric cars we're going backwards! The Tesla roadster consumes 310 Wh per mile. The 10 year old GM EV1 consumed 190 Wh. (We've gone from over 5 miles per kilowatt hour to a little over 3). Even the boxy RAV4 EV from a decade ago consumed less than the Tesla.

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#80
In reply to #68

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/01/2010 12:09 PM

awesome knowledge as usual.

what program is your model (image) made in?

Chris

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#85
In reply to #80

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/02/2010 1:45 AM

Hi Chris,

It's Design CAD 2000. Its main virtue when I first bought it more than a decade ago (15 years ago?) was its reasonable price for a 3D package. It has some annoying quirks, and I'd prefer SolidWorks, but for my purposes, it is OK. For some things, of course, it works just fine.

For something like drawing a shape with curved panels and then flattening the panels for cutting, its useless... but I have a simple boat drawing program that does that. (In fact that's what I used to make panels for the Zing! prototype.)

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#86
In reply to #85

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/02/2010 5:15 AM

Hello Mr. Blink,

I am building a kayak this summer and was looking for a program similar to the one you describe. Can you share the name with me?

Thanks,

John

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#87
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Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/02/2010 11:25 AM

Design Cad 2000, just like he says.

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#91
In reply to #87

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/02/2010 2:19 PM

Much apologies sir. I was not specific in my inquiry. I was asking about the boat design software.

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#95
In reply to #86

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/02/2010 7:33 PM

Hi,

If it is hard chined, "Hull Design" is perfect, and free! You can output VRML files if you want to spin the model around to see what it looks like in 3d. If you want to get sophisticated you can use it to drive a cutter. It performs simple hydrostatics, so you can see if the boat will float about where you want it too.

Have fun -- any time spent boat building is not subtracted from man's allotted time on earth. The same applies to sailing and kayaking. If you need epoxy sources, etc, stop in and ask.

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#98
In reply to #95

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/03/2010 5:11 AM

Hello Blink,

I am looking at putting together a stitch and glue this spring. I have seen that software, but never took the time to download it.

I have mostly been looking at Pygmy and Chesapeake kit designs but I have also thought about just going for it and seeing what I get the first time.

Thanks and have a great day.

John

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#92
In reply to #85

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/02/2010 3:42 PM

Blink-

If you are interested in 3D rendering at a reasonable cost, have a look at BrlCAD- OpenSource and Free. Maybe not as intuitive as the commercial products, but quite capable...

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#94
In reply to #92

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/02/2010 4:25 PM

Thanks! I'll look it up.

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#32

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 11:18 AM

My son is training for the NYC Triathlon. When he's running or biking I tell him to stop off at the store to pick up some items and do curls on the way home. Sometimes I'll tell him to pick up 60 lbs of dog food and we don't even own one. He can be very rude at times.

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#35
In reply to #32

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 11:27 AM

is your son a teenager?

As a youth, they do not recognize when your instilling character, that does will not serve them immediately but later in life when they will cherish it. Teacher/mentors

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#36

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 11:29 AM

I would think that your students have a very good idea on having a trailer to add on to an electric car to extend it's range, why not a PV mat that could be added to the roof to add charging compacity when you are not running.

The trailer could be a pusher type vehicle with its own engine and fuel source for an extended trip say up to a 300-500 mile range.

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#39
In reply to #36

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 11:38 AM

What is the energy used to traversed with trailer as compared to with out?

The trailer could be a pusher type vehicle with its own engine and fuel source for an extended trip say up to a 300-500 mile range.

This would need to be drilled down more, especially when you use numbers like 300-500 miles. like where were these numbers derived from. Or to get the extended range are you just having a larger fuel tank and such.

p911

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#42

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 11:40 AM

Now Hotwater's answer got me thinking about that "pusher" concept.

It could be a puller...a "standard" vehicle that tows the riders in their very own special trailer. Controls could be via wire, not much different than today. (don't start ranting about Toyota...this is future think) It might be cheaper to build the custom trailer that folks ride or move their items in. The puller is then a simple traction device that has various power options for various loads as needed. Could be a rental device.

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#44

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 11:48 AM

velisj:

I do like to add, though it was mentioned you may not see it. there is no right answer that we are driving to. and posters will be criticized.

You being a teacher may not be used to this but any professional here will relate his experience and or opinion good and bad, but one can not take it personally, what you set out is basically a brainstorming session that can have great potential.

Don't give up. Criticism is welcome here. But realize something, we are not students here, we will present or defend our position until convinced otherwise.

p911

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#52

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 1:30 PM

...a new pair of SHOES, because walking bare-footed is so-o-o-o gosh.

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#55

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 2:28 PM

I think what is a better idea. is what was mentioned earlier.

You have a mother vehicle to make the initial long distance travel. This can have solar Chargers. and then Segway types of vehicles to unload to make your small runs to your final destinations.

Example.

Your going to work, and have to drop you kids off to school, why? because its uncool to take public transportation.

You stop at a central location on your way to work or errand. dispense your offspring and sent them on their way. And go to work. While at work you vehicle is recharging and at the end of the day even though your reserve is not fulling charged (inefficient that was talked about on a previous thread, though maybe batteries surpassed this)

You pick up any of the kids, that had after school activities, while the rest made there way home (if within ability of the kids or vehicle).

At home you park and recharge again.

p911

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#59

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 4:38 PM

This issue is a factor in one of my own personal dilemmas: the desire to savor the fruits of the city but to live in the tranquil isolation of the country. Clearly if we are going to live stacked up on one another in Asimovian metropolises than the personal automobile becomes an absurdity, but I for one don't want to have 1 family sharing a building with me, let alone 100 or 1,000 or... and if I'm going to enjoy the benefits of modern civilization and enjoy a rustic environment I am going to need a good vehicle that can serve all my needs (or as many as is reasonable) because there probably isn't going to be a rental shop for me to go to when god knows what happens and I need a big truck. One day this will be a moot point as we will grow to be so populous that there won't be any rural areas left, I just thank god I will be dead before that happens. This of course only relates to me, soccor moms driving their big rig, er I mean SUV, around the city running errands is a different thing entirely...

If you want to understand the American mindset, look at our pop culture, what do you think motivates a society that can sustain programming like "American Idol", "America's Next Top Model" and "who wants to marry this rich moron"... we are largely a shallow posturing people more concerned with social status, image and comfort/pleasure than with reality, when we are forced to face reality we resort to escapist tactics (including alcohol and narcotics, 'benign' drugs such as energy drinks and/or sleep aids and non-pharmacologic 'drugs' like food, TV or World of Warcraft) and then when that doesn't work we go to 'rehab' (preferably on tv so everyone will see us, thereby improving our social status and image). Doesn't make sense to me either, but I've seen too much of it to doubt it. If you can succesfully factor this into your concepts you should be able to achieve success.

Americans may pick the car they buy because it boosts their ego, but they choose to own a car because in most parts of the country, if you don't, your life will be pretty confined. I'm not saying that this confinement is an evil (to use a Bush-ism), just that anyone who owns a TV (which is most of America) is going to want to experience something other than the confines dictated by their feet, and if they were raised on traditional American ideology then they're going to feel that this degree of freedom of movement is a birth-right. Most cities in this country are too sprawled out and poorly designed for pedestrian traffic or public transit systems to be reasonable considering our 'go go get it done and do some more' culture. Also, the auto industry has spent billions, if not trillions, of dollars over the decades to brainwash the populous into believing that not only is owning a car an absolute necessity, but that $40,000 is a reasonable investment for a heap of scrap you're going to have to replace in 5-10 years and which won't be worth half what you paid the instant you take possession of it; besides, you really should buy the $80,000 rolling scrap heap, it's got 'Babe Magnets' in addition to the radical value depreciation/short service life package... we're clearly not very intelligent...

In response to Public Transportation advocacy as expressed by Mike K's statement "But this is all in the box. For out of the box, get America off their high horse and use public transportation." Speaking as one who has been dependent upon public transportation in a number of cities across the nation, I can say quite confidently that until the standards for service go up and the cost to ride goes down it isn't going to happen in this country. Service hours are limited, schedules aren't adhered to, travel times are excessive (2+ hours to go as little as 10 miles...), fares are exorbitant and fare schedules are absurd (e.g. here in phoenix, you can get on a bus or the light rail for $1.75, but you can't transfer to a different bus or make a return trip. You can get an all day pass for $3.50 that is good on any bus or the light rail for unlimited rides on that day, unless you buy that pass on the bus, in which case it will cost you an extra $1.75. So a two mile round trip to buy groceries (assuming you don't have to change buses or buy a day pass) costs the same as joy-riding around the city for 21.33 hours; that seems reasonable, unless you bought that ticket on the bus... or know basic math or marketing). I'm all for public transportation, but so far it doesn't work very well in most of the places that have it and won't work for most of the country because we're too spread out.

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#74
In reply to #59

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/01/2010 5:05 AM

Good points. I will pass them on to my students. Thank you.

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#60

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 6:28 PM

One student suggested that we take the Volt idea and rather than include the IC motor in the vehicle, to rather make available a small trailer that would include storage and the IC motor for electric power that could be owned or rented when one wants to make a longer trip.

This is a viable idea that has been in use for many years in the homebuilt EV world. It is not a unique idea or a new one, but it represents sound thinking on the part of your students. An important next step in generating such ideas is to research what has already been done. The prototype (T Zero) that morphed into the Tesla Roadster was developed with a matching trailer for this purpose.

Another idea that has shown up in the homebuilt EV world is the front half of a front wheel drive car cut off and made into a pusher trailer. Hook it up and push your EV around for along trips. Safety issues etc, but kind of fun.

Your students might get a kick out of my prototype, for which I had considered a trailer, rather than building in the generator. With my 40 mile range (which permits a small, inexpensive battery pack) the trailer concept would not pan out, however, because 1. range is quite variable, so you can't count on exactly 40 miles, 2. the vehicle dynamics change too much with a small vehicle when adding a trailer, 3. 40 miles is too close to the likely daily usage to enable most people to confidently leave the trailer at home. 4. the hassle and complexity is too high for a small gain in trailer-less efficiency.

( I use your strategy for Home Depot trips -- I hitch a trailer to my Accord. Works great. But you and I are not in the norm.)

but as one of my students pointed out, their family owns a small IC car for daily use, but when they go on vacation they rent a van with a topper for more storage. If you take the time as our class did, the cost analysis is quite interesting.

On a cost basis, it can be well beyond interesting: it's compelling. A tiny fraction of people routinely make legitimate use of massive vehicles -- only a few decades ago, pickup trucks as heavy as today's did not exist, and large SUVs did not exist in meaningful numbers on the road. Of course, most people are aware that a small car is more practical, and far less costly in terms of initial purchase price, insurance maintenance costs and operating costs. Most good quality small cars can easily accumulate ten years (150,000) without requiring any serious maintenance at all, but people nevertheless feel compelled to buy new large cars fairly frequently. Obviously, the manufacturers encourage this, but small efficient cars are still available. A current Honda Civic is substantially upscale from (and heavier than) an Accord of two decades ago. Yet many people feel the psychological need to buy the Accord rather than the Civic, even if they were happy with their Accord years ago. (I am an exception in this respect. Honda has lost me as an Accord customer; my current one still drives like new at 6 years old, and my next Honda will likely be of Civic or Fit class -- but I am out of the mainstream: most people are perfectly happy to buy bigger and bigger cars, frequently.)

My point, and therefore my question, is that this discussion in America always seems to be black and white.

That's probably a bit of a stretch. We have viable, popular cars ranging from BMW Mini's and Toyota Yarises to huge SUVs. We have bicycles and motorscooters. We've had electric cars, and will soon have them again. The Teslas are unlikely to sell in meaningful numbers, but cars like the Nissan Leaf could be viable commuters. Logical, concerned drivers will ask "Is it better to buy a new expensive electric car that consumes resources in its creation and consumes coal in its operation, or to buy a small used car for a fraction of the price, and follow the reuse, recycle paradigm?" For some, economics alone will dictate and small gas car. My guess is that the Volt will outsell the Leaf, even though the Leaf could be equipped with a charging trailer, and even though the Volt will cost more. The peace of mind of knowing that you'll never have to call a two truck will outweigh the likely cost advantage with the Leaf, I'd guess. The Volt will be seen as a real car, the Leaf as only a commuter. It will be interesting to see how it shakes out.

We have numerous transportation options. If we were really serious about fuel efficiency, more of us would be driving Priuses and Honda Insights and riding bicycles. The problem is in minds, not hardware. I hope that your students' generation will favor small, efficient cars.

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#75
In reply to #60

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/01/2010 5:07 AM

Thank you for your thoughtful responses. I will pass them on to my students.

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#112
In reply to #60

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/16/2010 8:33 AM

Great going Blink! Eat mice!

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#113
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Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/16/2010 5:12 PM

Thanks. A mouse a day keeps the doctor away.

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#65

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

02/28/2010 10:07 PM

I think your student made a fine suggestion that is worthy of pursuing.

It might work for some people, somehow.

We do often here discuss cars.

I consider Anonymous Hero the resident expert.

For the young couple, or the singles two cars, space for much of anything, may well be short.

Public transport is hit or miss depending on what urban area you live in in the US.

The Mountain ranges for transcontinental trips require enough power to cross somehow a couple of mountain ranges on the East West Routes, and North and South trips can well require cars such as the Subaru for many months of a year.

I know when short of money, which has for some reason long been a problem for me, I have attempted to get ahold of vehicles that would do a variety of jobs.

I really ought to have made some better choices and think my life may have been a bit more successful if I had bought a Volkswagen Bus, and stuck with that sort of thing.

One of my most significant failures was the Ford F 150.

My Super Beetle was really a fine thing.

The Kia Sephia did better than expected.

But damn, my 1954 Pontiac Star Chief, well, you could move the family and listen to the radio, and probably put folding bicycles in the truck along with inflatable or folding furniture, plus food for a trip without known end.

Dream car for me is a Subaru.

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#70
In reply to #65

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/01/2010 1:43 AM

You say: " I know when short of money, which has for some reason long been a problem for me, ..... "

You have a problem being short of money? I find arriving at that state quite easy to achieve. When I have too much money I go to a book store, home depot, electronics store or just tell my wife I'll take her to the mall.

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#81
In reply to #70

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/01/2010 12:10 PM

Aint that the truth.... to make it worse, I just got a job at Home Depot. I want one of everything.

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#67

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/01/2010 12:00 AM

I like the idea of wind tunnels to "blow" bicycles to their destinations. So I guess about 6 ft wide and 8ft high with occasional fans in the top to keep the wind blowing at about 15 miles per hour. Pairs of tunnels (One to go home after work too). 15 mph is a nice speed on a bike. And if the wind is always blowing with you, it is so easy too. I do not know how the loading would change if there were more or less people in it.

I am not sure how the entry ways would work, Perhaps enter at 25 degrees at a venturi tightening of the tunnel? and you would not need a door?

I am sure someone somewhere has worked the whole thing out.

Brian

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#69
In reply to #67

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/01/2010 1:06 AM

Wouldn't that be cool!

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#76
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Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/01/2010 5:09 AM

Lets make them clear and raise them above the traffic!

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#110
In reply to #67

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/10/2010 10:30 PM

I got a mag called cycletherapy a few days ago. They have something like the "blow bycycles to their destinations tunnels idea" and it "may have been" inspired by something called The high Line project in New York thehighline.org

The thing is velo-city.ca Some very nice small pics of the concept in the magazine but I did not see them at velocity.

Anyway, I used to be an avid cyclist but stonemasonry killed my knees and exausts me.

Cycling at speed effortlessly, with the wind behind your back, gives a godlike feeling!

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#71

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/01/2010 2:08 AM
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#82
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Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/01/2010 12:20 PM

That one was on "The Dragon's Den"... Brett invested in it.. that kid (Ben Gulak) that invented it was going to MIT in the fall.. bright future there.. but the design has changed again, and now the cycle is only a unicycle below 20km/h.. above that it automatically splits and becomes a motorcycle, to improve high speed stability. very cool.

http://www.cbc.ca/dragonsden/pitches/uno.html

Chris

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#72

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/01/2010 3:02 AM

I think it's time for a real Cyclops. No longer the fantasy car of tomorrow, Stan Motts car should be the car of tomorrow....no wait , Today February 29, 2010

http://sbiii.com/cyclops/cyclops.html

Ed Weldon

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#73
In reply to #72

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/01/2010 3:37 AM

OOps ......I forgot. It's March 1. Where did FEb 29 go? Well, it's still a fantasy locked in another time warp.

Hmmmmm..... Not quite. Supposing someone can come up with a nice little high efficiency turbocharged 200 or 300 cc 30 hp engine. This little car with its natural roll cage supported simple aluminum body, 2 seats, near go-cart sized wheels and two seats ought to weigh in at around 700 pounds. Gear it so the maximum speed is about 65 mph (this was good enough for 36hp VW's) with the ordinary transmission drive setup but also provide an overdrive mode where the engine is governed (by a movable carb restrictor plate?) to a maximum of 25 mph at 1800 rpm for easy in-town cruising and incredible mileage. The overdrive would also engage a flywheel to smooth engine operation in this gear at low speeds. Imagine the handling performance with the low cg and the tires as wide as they are high and the full 30 hp in 2nd gear!!

Am I crazy? Perfect for a hatchback for light cargos. A small ripstop tent over the back would make a cozy sleeping compartment. (Too bad Stan Mott didn't build a real Cyclops body on his "Round the World" gocart. sure would have made for a more commfortable ride.)

Imagine this. The perfect little commuter car for mileage in high traffic conditions but really a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Ed Weldon .......... Hey I'm not crazy. This is doable. 250cc 2 cyl bike engine and tranny. Got to invent the OD drive setup. ........ Anybody make a little turbo for a motor this size? Could I get enough air to the engine to keep it cool? Do they make water cooled bike engines that small? Is a simple curved safety glass windshield possible or do I have to use flat glass?

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#79
In reply to #73

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/01/2010 10:08 AM

Ed-

I know of a couple of communities where golf carts are the vehicle of choice- one uses electric golf carts, another prefers gasoline-powered golf carts. In the community where the gasoling-powered golf carts are preferred, there is a tendancy to "upgrade" to bigger and bigger vehicles over time- the Kawasaki Mule is becoming more and more the favorite. The community favoring the electric golf carts is decidedly more up-scale and "exclusive"- populated by those who have no need to "prove" to others that they have arrived. The carts are for getting about the island, and speed is not an issue, because there just isn't that much distance to travel. On the smaller island, speed is all the rage...

I think your Cyclops might go over quite well in these environments, but you need two models. One , very basic transportation for those that want to get from point a to point be in reasonable comfort, and another that can achieve the same thing in about 20 seconds...hopefully without endangering too many of the other residents...

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#78
In reply to #72

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/01/2010 9:24 AM

The Cyclops reminds me of Jorie Squibb's car, the Moonbeam.

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#83
In reply to #78

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/01/2010 2:10 PM

Wow -- Jorie Squibb's Moonbeam looks like it has solved all the important design issues. The only deal for me and a few of my contemporaries is the sacred nature of the Cyclops thing. Most of you guys are too young to have connected with Stan Mott and the Road and Track articles of the 1960's. They left a lasting impression on me. Problem is that members of his old fan club are starting to die off.

But it would be real easy to wrap a Cyclops look-alike body around a Moonbeam chassis. Trouble is there are too few people around that would recognize it's heritage.

BTW, I think I have an answer for the snow tire problem ...... ATV tires or maybe even an entire ATV rear axle if they are not too heavy.

Ed Weldon

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#84
In reply to #83

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/01/2010 3:15 PM

Most of you guys are too young to have connected with Stan Mott and the Road and Track articles of the 1960's.

I had a collection of all the 60's Road and Track and Sports Car Graphics issues (I write, as I hobble away on my cane).

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#89

Re: Personal Transportation - Out of the Box Thinking

03/02/2010 12:35 PM

I'd like a fuel efficient VTOL to get me in & out of the holler - maybe a convertible.

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