An organization called Luxury Lab decided to create a digital IQ test for all of the major automotive manufacturers’ websites. On a scale from feeble to genius, the sites were tested on their abilities to attract viewers from search engines, showcase their products, and interact with social media in a unique, user-friendly, and elegant way. Altogether, 44 different car sites were evaluated and ranked using L2’s methodology.
The Germans demonstrated digital excellence, filling the only three “genius” spots. Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz took positions 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Volkswagen was 2 points behind Mercedes-Benz, in the top “gifted” slot, and 4th overall. Things change quite a bit after that. Ford placed 5th overall, the highest of the domestics, and it’s a pretty good mix from there on down the list. Lamborghini scored the lowest, with other luxury brands like Maserati, Aston Martin, and Rolls Royce only slightly better. Luxury Lab called Lambo’s site “a navigational nightmare”.
Electrical engineer, Scott Brusaw hopes to make glass roads a reality in 2010, with funding from the United States DoT. The premise of his design is to introduce a network of highways to the U.S. that will provide enough solar power to make fossil fuel power plants obsolete.
Mr. Brusaw’s company, Solar Roads is developing the solar panels that will be used in the prototype driving surface, scheduled to be presented to the Department of Transportation on February 12th. If successfully developed, the new type of road surface could provide some economical benefits. Plans include heaters below the surface to melt snow and ice, LED powered markings and messages, and an energy storage system that could potentially provide enough electricity to power the nation’s households.
As CAD software becomes more integral to automotive component design, engineers rely more heavily on digital 3D models for packaging of components and assemblies. Given strength and dimensional requirements, designers and drafters can create parts, assemblies, and even complete vehicles in virtual space. This allows engineers to see the completed product and look for potential assembly or interference issues without making a single physical part.
This task becomes quite a bit more difficult when designers must consider human interaction with the vehicle. The movements of people are extremely complex compared to that of most mechanical components found in a car.
A new concept in road safety gives drivers behind large trucks a picture of oncoming, making it easier to decide when to pass. A Russian designer named Art Lebedev has introduced plans for a system of cameras and projectors that would place an unobstructed picture of what the truck driver sees on the back of his truck/trailer.
That’s right folks. What could be better than looking at the actual earth while driving on it? Looking at pictures from outer space, of the earth you are driving on, while driving on it. The technology of the future makes this possible, thanks to Audi and Google. The 2011 Audi A8 will be the first production vehicle to feature the Google Earth software built right in to its navigation system. Audi has also given the A8 the ability to connect to cellular date networks via a built in modem or a bluetooth connection to a cell phone.
LED lighting is more compact, use less energy, and produce less waste heat than traditional incandescent lighting. That’s all good stuff right? I mean, obviously LEDs should become the standard choice for lighting. This was the idea behind LED powered traffic lights gradually being implemented throughout the country. They provide great visibility and are an arguably “green” option. Unfortunately, one of their strengths seems to have become a weakness in some cases.
In cold weather, the LEDs fail to melt frost or snow that may collect on the lenses. This has already been known to cause some accidents in LED equipped intersections. I can understand how this could cause confusion to drivers, yet I would hesitate to blame the lights completely. I don’t know about you, but when I’m about to drive through an intersection with unlit traffic signals, I’m going to think seriously about stopping and looking both ways first.
A better solution would be to use lasers. The use of laser equipped traffic signals introduces two key benefits. First of all, a laser will easily burn through any snow, ice, frost, insects, bird’s nests, etc. that may develop on the lens. Secondly, if the signal detects a vehicle approaching too quickly, it will slice that car up into harmless little pieces before it even gets to the intersection… PEW PEW!