Tag Archives: Electronics

The 135is proves BMW can still make a sports car

The 2013 BMW 135is restored my faith in “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” Many years ago, I owned a 325is, of the E30 generation, which taught me what BMW was all about. But over the last few years, coinciding with the launch of the X6, the brand seemed to take a turn for the mundane, turning out cars tuned for the mass market rather than enthusiasts. After driving a particularly placid 3-series, I was beginning to fear the worst.

Now, the little 135is has convinced me that BMW still knows how to make a sports car.

Despite the 1 Series being BMW’s smallest, entry-level car, it can be one of the most potent, and the best street performer in the lineup. At just over 14 feet long, the 135is comes to the U.S. in a coupe format, and includes two smallish rear seats. The Europeans also get a really nice-looking hatchback version, which BMW refuses to import.

The 135i, boasting BMW’s excellent direct-injected and turbocharged 3-liter, six-cylinder engine, was already a little rocket. The addition of the “s” to the model name, something BMW has done occasionally through the decades, turns the car into a tuned-up street racer, with acceleration that won’t quit and an exhaust note that will get your attention.

BMW 135is: The fastest 1-series (pictures)

To make the 135is worthy of the extra letter, BMW reprogrammed the engine software, bringing the output up to 320 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque. Likewise, a new traction control program allows for a little more play, and the suspension has been stiffened. On the completely unnecessary side, BMW adorns the 135is with little M badges, evoking the somewhat disappointing attempt at an M version of the 1 Series from a few years back.

Manual transmission
The model BMW sent to CNET was a purist’s dream, with a manual transmission and no navigation system. Although the other transmission option is the truly excellent seven-speed twin clutch, which shaves 0.1 second from the zero-to-60-mph time, it was nice to get some driving time with the manual, which suits the 135is very well.

The gate exhibits what I think of as classic European smoothness. It precisely moves through the gears, but instead of feeling mechanical, there is a well-worn feel to each gear slot, as I imagine the giant gears of a centuries-old town clock would interlock. However, I’m not crazy about the flat-topped shift knob, as it feels too small for an adult’s hand. Add an inch of height to it, and the knob would be a perfect pistol grip.

2013 BMW 135is

This six-speed manual shifts with precision and European smoothness.

(Credit:
Josh Miller/CNET)

I also rejoiced in the fact that the 135is had no buttons for Sport or Eco modes. Essentially, the 135is is always in Sport, and has no time for normal or Eco modes.

A purist might think, good, this is the way sports cars are meant to be: all mechanical with no technical tomfoolery. But don’t fool yourselves, there is a lot of technology at work in this car; BMW just hides it well. First, there is the engine, a real marvel of engineering using precisely programmed variable valve timing and direct fuel injection, which bears as much resemblance to an old, carburetor push-rod engine as a Mac Pro does to a slide rule.

Instead of relying on a limited-slip differential to aid cornering, BMW applies programming to the rear brakes, selectively engaging each one to help the car rotate through the turns.

I was impressed that merely making a fast start, running up the engine revs for a good zero-to-60-mph run, caused the traction control warning to light up on the instrument cluster. Fortunately, traction control never seemed to interfere, and could also be turned off by pressing a button. Holding down that same button also turns off the Dynamic Stability Control, which is not advisable unless you are on a track that you know well.

As for acceleration, the 135is took off quickly, like any well-powered sports car. But its engine programming let it rev up to 7,000rpm, giving me more time in the lower gears. It hit 60 mph in second gear, just before hitting redline, and an upshift to third showed the 135is just had more to give.

Just about where most cars would give up, the 135is got another power bump, seeming to increase its rate of acceleration.

2013 BMW 135is

Engine software lets the 135is rev up to 7,000rpm.

(Credit:
Josh Miller/CNET)

The acceleration was accompanied by one of the best exhaust notes I’ve heard from a car in a long time. With the window down for maximum auditory stimulation, the exhaust growled aggressively under acceleration. Suddenly letting off the gas pedal resulted in a series of little backfires, as if the 135is had to somehow exhale all that power it had at the ready.

With the windows closed, the car’s noise dampening reduces the exhaust note to a low, bass thrumming. It changed tone and tempo with the tachometer needle, making the car seem like an exotic, thereminlike instrument. Really, somebody should sample it.

The beauty of the 135is is that, even with its high-tempo acceleration, it is perfectly drivable in stop-and-go traffic. The manual transmission makes for a little more work when boring driving conditions prevail, but it shifts so well that I didn’t mind. When you stop on an ascent, a hill-hold feature steps in to make taking off easier, too.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/mHpI/~3/hAZ7laVeuBA/4505-10867_7-35805088.html

3D-printed concept car would build itself

Genesis concept art

The Genesis concept would build itself.


(Credit:
Nir Siegel)

Designers and makers have been busy imagining uses for 3D printers, ranging from casts to houses to duck feet. Vehicle designer Nir Siegel doesn’t just want to 3D-print cars, he wants them to assemble themselves.

Siegel’s Genesis concept would involve the delivery of a specialized 3D printer to a
car buyer. The printer would then print out a car all around itself to match the buyer’s specifications.

Siegel’s vision of the car-buying and car-building future earned him a Pilkington Design Award from the Royal College of Art in London where he studied vehicle design.

The Genesis car is just an idea right now, but it’s an intriguing concept. As 3D printers advance, we inch closer to a sci-fi future where you could call up Audi or Toyota, order a car and have it delivered, ready to create itself to match your desires.

It may sound farfetched, but 3D printers have already been used to create an accurate stunt model of an Aston Martin and the Urbee II, a 3D-printed electric car, is slated to go into production. Siegel just wants to take it a few steps further.

Genesis car concept drawing

A concept drawing of the Genesis car.


(Credit:
Nir Siegel)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/mHpI/~3/g83i6DXe98c/

BMW 135is: The most "BMW" of them all? (CNET On Cars, Episode 21)

Subscribe:

iTunes (HD)iTunes (SD)iTunes (HQ)

RSS (HD)RSS (SD)RSS (HQ)

I remember when the first BMW 320i ( E21) hit U.S. shores, hitting U.S. roads when I was in high school. It forever changed my idea of what a sporty
car could and should be and did the same for much of the world’s car-buying public. Today’s 1 Series is the nearest thing to the 320i and I approached it that way when we got our hands on a 135is on the road and on the track. Turns out it may be BMW’s best car if you had your head spun around by the 320i back in the day.

You may know that a hybrid car is not one thing: Wrapped up in that now household word is a wide variety of ways of blending two power plants for a different motive goals. In our Car Tech 101 we compare and contrast the flavors of hybrid car so you know what you’re really driving when you’re behind the wheel of one.

And the boys at XCAR deliver us a thoroughly modern classic: The seventh gen VW Golf, a car that can’t help but be a staple in the garage of real world car lovers everywhere.

As always, e-mail me your thoughts, suggestions, and comments.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/mHpI/~3/DptJ2JzBsNE/

Tesla battery swap a dead end

Teslas demo shows how fast the Model Ss battery can be swapped.

Tesla’s demo shows how fast the Model S’s battery can be swapped.


(Credit:
Tesla)

One hundred years ago,
car makers could have devised different fuel types and filling techniques for their internal-combustion cars, and drivers would have had to visit a Ford station, a Dodge Station, a Chevy station, or whatever the make of their car, to fill the tank. Fortunately, gasoline and filling standards prevailed.

In a publicity stunt last night, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk began pushing electric cars on the nonstandard path that gasoline cars didn’t take.

At Tesla’s design studio in Los Angeles, Musk showed a video of a Tesla employee filling the tank of an Audi, while simultaneously a Model S drove onstage and had its battery replaced. A timer ticked off the seconds and, as the Model S battery swap was finished in 90 seconds, another Model S rolled out for its battery swap. Meanwhile, the Audi took more than 4 minutes to fill up.

The demonstration was completely realistic. The Model S was designed for quick battery swaps. You can argue that the Audi driver took extra time swiping his card to pay for the gasoline, but Tesla could use automatic payment technology, as the Model S is a very connected car.

Watching Tesla’s video, it gave me chills — the bad kind — when Musk said Model S owners could pull into a “Tesla station.” Will the landscape be populated with Nissan Leaf stations, Honda Fit EV stations, Ford Focus Electric stations?

One advantage of electric vehicles is that the grid is pretty much everywhere. There are charging posts in public and private garages. We don’t need dedicated stations, as we have for internal-combustion vehicles.

Of course, this battery-swapping technique isn’t Tesla’s first move down the nonstandard path. Its fast-charging technology, supplied by its network of Superchargers, is also a proprietary standard. Tesla’s Superchargers and its battery swap technique are great for Model S owners, but bad for electric-car development in general.

Tesla’s “walled garden” approach is common in the technology industry. Apple, from which Tesla seems to have derived some of its inspiration, is notorious for coming up with proprietary technologies. Likewise, mobile phone makers tend to embrace captive markets, good for their bottom lines, but limiting consumer choice.

Don’t get me wrong, I think most of what Tesla Motors — and Musk — have accomplished is brilliant. I absolutely love the Model S, and do think it is an excellent template for the future of the electric car. I reviewed one last year and gave it CNET’s Editors’ Choice Award. It also earned our Tech Car of the Year award.

I have also been extraordinarily impressed with how Tesla built up a luxury car manufacturing plant faster than it would take most automakers to approve a new design.

The Model S not only gives Tesla Motors credence as a serious automaker, but it also serves as a flagship for the nascent electric-car industry. In that regard, Tesla should be pushing for standards, especially in fast-charging. The company should be opening up its fast-charging technology to the SAE for standards approval, or adopting the SAE’s new Combo fast-charging technology. I wouldn’t suggest the rival ChadeMo standard, just because the bulky, ugly plugs don’t go with the Model S’ elegant aesthetic.

If Tesla continues to ignore standards, the company could end up with Tucker and DeSoto, abandoned on the shoulder of the great American highway.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/mHpI/~3/l29XYE6Jthc/

Electric aircraft start finding a foothold in aviation industry

EADS E-Fan is an all-electric, zero-emission aircraft. It can carry 550kg of weight with a cruising speed of 110kmph and maximum speed of 160kmph. But its range is fairly limited compared to conventionally fueled aircraft: it can fly only about 45 minutes to an hour.

EADS’ E-Fan is an all-electric, zero-emission aircraft. It can carry 550kg of weight with a cruising speed of 110kmph and maximum speed of 160kmph. But its range is fairly limited compared to conventionally fueled aircraft: it can fly only about 45 minutes to an hour.


(Credit:
Stephen Shankland/CNET)

LE BOURGET, France — Maybe we should call them e-craft.

At the Paris Air Show here, a handful of companies tried out their own version of a change sweeping the automotive industry: electric power. There are abundant challenges to the approach, but some believe that the technology will catch on at least in some circumstances.

Early electric
cars were small and light, and electric aircraft are following suit for the same reason: having less mass to push around means a vehicle can get farther on a limited amount of energy. Thus, you shouldn’t expect a 250-passenger electric jet any time soon, but perhaps in a decade an all-electric six-seater Elektra E6 will carry you and a couple friends on a shorter flight.

Electric aircraft energize Paris Air Show (pictures)

The benefits of electric flight include lower carbon dioxide emissions, quieter aircraft, and machinery with less punishing vibration. Greenhouse gas emission is still an issue for coal and natural-gas power plants that supply the electricity, of course, but the supply of solar and wind energy is gradually increasing and even fossil-fuel burning plants can be more efficient than combustion in a small engine.

The old guard is working on improving efficiency with conventionally fueled aircraft, for example by moving to lighter materials such as carbon composites as in the case of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Its new rival, the Airbus A350 that’s just made its first test flights, is 53 percent composite, 19 percent aluminum alloy, 14 percent titanium, 6 percent steel, and 8 percent other materials.

But several electric aircraft made news at the Paris Air Show, a top aeronautics event that attracts not just aviation buffs but also component suppliers and airlines looking to buy planes for their fleet. Among the aircraft:

Diamond Aircrafts DA36 E-Star 2, built in cooperation with EADS and Siemens, isnt an electric aircraft, strictly speaking. But it uses battery-powered electric motors to power its engines; a conventional fuel engine charges the battery as the plane flies.

Diamond Aircraft’s DA36 E-Star 2, built in cooperation with EADS and Siemens, isn’t an electric aircraft, strictly speaking. But it uses battery-powered electric motors to power its engines; a conventional fuel engine charges the battery as the plane flies.


(Credit:
Stephen Shankland/CNET)

• The E-Fan from aerospace giant EADS is a compact two-seater aircraft with lithium polymer batteries and dual electric propellers that produce 60 kilowatts of power. It can cruise at 100mph for 45 to 60 minutes for new pilots in training or 30 minutes as an acrobatic plane, EADS said. And one more novelty: when taxiing, it’s driven by a powered wheel, not by its flight engines.

EADS expects “significant benefits” in the cost per hour to fly for initial training, and it’s a lot quieter than conventional small planes. The E-Fan is subsidized in part by the French Directorate General for Civil Aviation (DGAC); the European Commission’s Flightpath 2050 report calls for lowering carbon dioxide emissions by 75 percent and cutting noise by 65 percent from 2000 to 2050.

EADCO and PC-Aero hope to build a prototype of this six-passenger aircraft, the Elektro E6, within three years and have it licensed for use within ten years. Itll have a range of 500km, the companies said.

EADCO and PC-Aero hope to build a prototype of this six-passenger aircraft, the Elektro E6, within three years and have it licensed for use within ten years. It’ll have a range of 500km, the companies said.


(Credit:
EADCO)

• EADCO, or European Aerospace Design Consultants, announced a partnership with PC-Aero to build the Elektro E6, a six-seat, two-engine electric aircraft that by 2019 will be able to carry a payload of 480kg up to 500km.

It’s just a design for now, but the plan is to build a proof of concept in three years and a certified model in a decade. The wings’ top surface will be layered with photovoltaic cells, though it’s unclear how much of a boost to battery life that will give.

AgustaWestlands Project Zero is an all-electric tiltrotor. The aviation company showed it off at the Paris Air Show.

AgustaWestland’s Project Zero is an all-electric tiltrotor. The aviation company showed it off at the Paris Air Show.


(Credit:
Stephen Shankland/CNET)

• AgustaWestland’s Project Zero is more exotic, a single-passenger tiltrotor whose propellers produce upward thrust during takeoff then pivot to produce forward thrust for flight.

The company didn’t disclose range, speed, or weight, but said the prototype on display at the air show does fly. It’s also a prototype to develop and demonstrate what’s possible, not an early version of an aircraft actually intended for production.

Diamond Aircrafts DA36 E-Star 2, built in cooperation with EADS and Siemens, isnt an electric aircraft, strictly speaking. But it uses battery-powered electric motors to power its engines; a conventional fuel engine charges the battery as the plane flies.

Diamond Aircraft’s DA36 E-Star 2, built in cooperation with EADS and Siemens, isn’t an electric aircraft, strictly speaking. But it uses battery-powered electric motors to power its engines; a conventional fuel engine charges the battery as the plane flies.


(Credit:
Stephen Shankland/CNET)

• The DA36 E-Star 2, an update to the Siemens’ serial electric DA36 E-Star from two years ago. It’s not, strictly speaking, an electric aircraft, but it is a step in that direction: it uses a battery-powered electric motor to drive the propeller but charges that battery with a small engine burning conventional fuel.

The DA36 E-Star 2 is built by Diamond Aircraft Industries; EADS Innovation Works, which supplies the batteries; and Siemens, which supplies the drive system based on a Austro Engine rotary engine. EADS is the aerospace giant that runs Airbus. Compared to the first-generation model that appeared two years ago at the same air show, the E-Star 2 increases engine power from 70 kilowatts to 80kW.

“The DA36 E-Star 2 demonstrates for the first time that a serial-hybrid electric aircraft is suitable for commercial use, providing an appropriate payload and range for a utility aircraft,” the companies said.

Electric flight is unusual with passenger craft, but it’s a closer fit for a much bigger trend in the aviation industry: unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), aka drones. Big drones used for launching missiles aren’t electric, but small quadcopters and fixed-wing surveillance craft can be.

Building an EV powerful enough to carry people is difficult, but not all aircraft have a human payload. Tekevers AR1 Blue Ray is designed to carry a camera for police. The companys bigger unmanned aerial vehicles use conventional liquid fuels.

Building an EV powerful enough to carry people is difficult, but not all aircraft have a human payload. Tekever’s AR1 Blue Ray is designed to carry a camera for police. The company’s bigger unmanned aerial vehicles use conventional liquid fuels.


(Credit:
Stephen Shankland/CNET)

At the Paris Air Show, one such electric UAV on display was Tekever’s AR1 Blue Ray designed for police who need surveillance.

“It can be used for crowd monitoring at major events with lots of people, or for VIP security for providing clearance ahead,” said Pedro Petiz, a Tekever business-development manager. “You can carry it in a backpack. It snaps together,” he said, adding that it’s launched by hand but lands by parachute after a flight time of about 2 hours.

The big practical problem with electric aircraft is energy density — the amount of energy that’s stored in a given amount of material, energy that’s extracted and converted into propellers spinning or some other form of propulsion. Batteries weigh a lot, and it’s tough to match liquid fuel, which despite the energy-wasting inefficiencies of combustion still have a lot of oomph packed inside all those chemical bonds.

Tekever’s larger drones, such as its AR5 that has an 8- to 9-meter wingspan, use conventional aircraft fuels because of the energy density requirements, Petiz said.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/mHpI/~3/WmlHvnyXRYY/

Is it a motorcycle? Is it a disco? It’s a discomocycle!


(Credit:
Yuhan Zhang)

Wouldn’t it be great if you could have your very own disco everywhere you go? Forget the shoulder-borne boombox — student Yuhan Zhang from Sweden’s Umea Institute of Design has brought mobile music into the 21st century.

Called the Marshall Dicycle, the concept is designed around amp maker Marshall, although the look of the thing seems to skew more toward “Tron” than Marshall’s rather traditional style.

Slung between two enormous hubless wheels is the body of a motorcycle, with enough seating room for two riders. Storage space for musical instruments sits beneath the seat. The frame itself is rigid, as the wheels turn inside the rims, with a cutout at the base allowing them to come in contact with the road.

The wheels themselves also function as amplifiers, with an array of knobs on each one. All you have to do is plug in your instruments, and boom! Instant disco!

(Source: Crave Australia via Inhabitat)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/mHpI/~3/ZB9dYtKXve8/