Tag Archives: Technology

Formula E electric car race adds Los Angeles venue

Formula E

A Formula E driver shows off an all-electric race car similar to what will compete in the series.


(Credit:
Formula E Holdings)

Los Angeles, once known for its smog, has signed on with the all-new Formula E racing organization to host one of the worldwide series of 10 electric-car races, kicking off next year.

Los Angeles joins Miami; London; Rome; Beijing; Rio de Janeiro; Putrajaya, Malaysia; and Buenos Aires, Argentina, in hosting races in the series. Two more cities in the series have yet to be announced.

The Formula E organization demonstrated one of its electric race
cars in Los Angeles on Monday.

Although Formula E intends the series to be open to competitive build teams, the organization has contracted Spark Racing Technology to provide an initial 42 electric race cars for its 10 announced teams. Each team will use four of the cars.

Formula E will release specifications for independent builders to enter their own cars.

The races, which will certainly be quieter than other FIA races, will last about an hour each, and the cars are expected to hit speeds of 140 mph. Formula E and Los Angeles are currently considering courses, which will run on city streets.

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Steering wheel music pad lets you drum and drive


(Credit:
ritwsmackattack.com)

Do you drum your steering wheel in traffic jams and at all the red lights? What if it could make drum sounds instead of dull thumps?

The ridiculously named Re-Inventing The Wheel (RITW) is an electronic drum pad that covers your steering wheel and links wirelessly with your
car speakers and your iPhone.

The gizmo, which is the focus of a Kickstarter campaign, emits drum sounds through the car stereo via an FM transmitter or line-in jack as you rock along to your favorite tunes on your iPhone.

RITW has eight sensors that can be set to trigger a snare, tom, cowbell, or any drum sound you like, or effects like dog barks or even Chewbacca’s howl. You also can hear your drumming — solo or with background music — through earphones or mini speakers.

You might think this could distract you while driving, putting yourself and others at risk. But developer Smack Attack says it can reduce “highway hypnosis,” a trance-like state in which the driver’s mind is not focused on the road.

Inventor Gregor “G-Man” Hanuschak, seen rapping in the promo vid below, says experiencing highway hypnosis while driving from Philadelphia to Silicon Valley inspired the concept for RITW.

I’m a frequent wheel-drummer myself, and I wonder if this wouldn’t tempt me to get my feet in on the action, like kicking a bass drum pedal. Not a good idea if you find yourself stepping on the gas in 4/4 time.

Th G-Man is trying to drum up $200,000 for production of RITW, which is going for $149 with the iPhone app on the campaign page.

What do you think? Would you rock this thing on your wheel?

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Coolest Earth Day ride: The Sora electric superbike

Sora
(Credit:
Lito Green Motion)

If you wanted to impress on Earth Day, you could do worse than this all-electric motorcycle from Canada.

The Sora superbike from Quebec-based Lito Green Motion is finally hitting the streets after years of development and promos. The Canadian Ministry of Transport recently certified the firm as a motorcycle manufacturer, and the $41,000 bike is getting lots of attention.

The Sora, which means “sky” in Japanese, has a 12 kWh lithium polymer battery and a range of 185 miles on a single charge, which takes 8 hours, or 90 minutes with a quick charger. It can be recharged anywhere using a conventional plug.

Its top speed is 120 mph and it can do 0 to 60 mph in about four seconds. Lito is emphasizing that the Sora is designed to satisfy on a performance basis.

Quiet and virtually free of vibration because it has few moving parts, the Sora design was inspired by bobber, streetfighter, and cafe racer bikes. Its innovative seat can be moved up or down at the touch of a button depending on road conditions (low for highway, and high for city driving).

Other features include an integrated 5.7-inch touch-panel LCD that shows GPS information and the Safe Range System app, which manages battery charge depending on the destination you set.

The Sora is being billed as the world’s first keyless and continuously variable transmission electric motorcycle. It also has a regenerative braking system to help preserve battery power on the road.

Check out more pics of the Sora in the gallery below. Would you ride one?

The 120 mph Sora electric motorcycle: A hot green ride (pictures)

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Subaru BRZ: Underpowered, under-tech, but overwhelmingly fun (CNET On Cars, Episode 16)

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Few
cars have inspired as much hope as the Subaru BRZ: Hope that cars can still be unvarnished, affordable, and directly connected to the road and the driver. The BRZ isn’t overwhelmingly powerful, it doesn’t raise the bar on tech — hell, it barely meets it in many areas — but it’s a lot of fun to drive in a classic fashion that harkens to the 240Z, 2000GT, and S2000.

2013 Subaru BRZ

We did a video on the Scion FR-S a while back, but waited for a BRZ to arrive for the real performance romp because these stablemates are more Subie than Toyota: Boxer engine and basic Impreza platform are its DNA. I think you’ll enjoy our hopeful video.

I’ve detected a lot of confusion over the array of new headlight tech that has cropped up in the last few years, so that’s our Car Tech 101 this time around. On the other end of the car is your rear-view camera, which is common today, possibly ubiquitous tomorrow if a new federal law takes effect. That’s of interest to the smarter driver.

Plenty of high-tech cars in the $40K to $60K range, but how about something that isn’t a huge investment? After all, in an age when a $200 phone leads in innovation, a car starts looking like the lowest value way to get tech. This episode, I run down my Top 5 cheap connected cars, all in the $15K to $25K range.

As always, reach me at oncars@cnet.com.

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‘Tornado Junkies’ try to build twister-proof van

They call it Dorothy: The Tornado Junkies’ Intercept Vehicle will have hydraulic flaps to keep it on the ground.


(Credit:
Tornado Junkies)

What would happen if you could take “The A-Team” and “Storm Chasers” and put them together in a blender? You’d get something like Tornado Junkies.

As their name suggests, this trio of young men are crazy about tornadoes. So crazy they think they can build a tornado-proof van.

Yes, this $5,000 Kickstarter project wants your money to build an armor-plated Ford to carry these Des Moines dudes down Tornado Alley chasing twisters.

They want to get as close as possible to the devastating power of tornadoes. Indeed, they want to park in a tornado. But it’s not for fun.

They’re doing us all a public service: “When we chase, we report weather conditions through storm spotter systems, the National Weather Service, and social media, which aids in the storm warning process,” they write on their campaign page.

“When we see a tornado, our very first action is reporting it, so that a tornado warning can be issued. We want to keep you and the ones you love safe. This is why we chase. We chase for you.”

Along the way, they’ll be grabbing tons of high-def video of supercells and compiling it into a Web series so you, too, can get high on the adrenaline.

The trio–two photographers and a student meteorologist–removed the Ford’s body and welded 14-gauge steel sheets to the frame, as seen in the vid below.

They’re also adding 3/4-inch polycarbonate windows and hope hydraulically lowered plating will prevent high winds from picking up the van.

I would really not want to test that myself, but these guys are gunning for danger. Do you want to encourage them with a pledge?

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Fast fixie: Bicycle with giant chainring aims for 100 mph

Donhou 100mph bike

Zoom, zoom.


(Credit:
Donhou)

Most of us don’t put much thought into the components that make a bicycle move. Things like chains and chainrings are pretty much out of sight and out of mind as we peddle along. With Donhou Bicycles‘ 100-mph bike, you can’t ignore the chainring. It’s so big, you could serve a large pizza on it.

The Donhou bike has a purpose in mind. It’s made to go fast. The strange-looking handlebars keep the rider hunched forward in an aerodynamic position. That humungous serving plate-size chainring then goes to work to propel you forward at speeds your Huffy would never even dare to dream of.

That monster of a chainring sports 105 teeth and is 17 inches in diameter. That means every go-round of the pedal sends the bike forward way farther than your standard road or mountain bike.

According to NPR, the bike has already reached speeds of 60 mph on the open road, but creator Tom Donhou would like to get it up to 100 mph. Getting there under pure leg power alone is a little out of reach, which is why many speedster bicyclists use a lead vehicle that provides a good draft to follow in. That’s how Donhou plans to get up to speed with this unusual bike.

The Donhou 100-mph bike won’t be breaking any speed records, but it does manage to look much more like a regular bike than most of the specially designed creations that have set records. That chainring is certainly an attention-getter.

The bike was unveiled at the Bespoked Bristol 2013 show, but so far it looks like it will remain an specialty item and not go into wider production.

Donhou 100mph bike

This bad boy isn’t for dawdling around town on.


(Credit:
Donhou)

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