Hands up all those who reckon that having an emissions-free go-kart that can zap up to 100k/ph in less than five seconds on its way to a top of 130k/ph is the way of the future? OK, give yourself time to think about it, and then put your hand up because that’s just what Bosch has done in developing what is probably destined to be the powertrain of the future. In partnership with FIA Electric and the German Motorsport Association, the electronics company has come up with a unit that will instantly get the rubber burning at the tap of the pedal even at low engine speeds. The only things missing will be the roar of the engine and the smell of petrol fumes, which is no doubt why many of you still haven’t put your hand up! Germany’s largest kart manufacturer, Mach 1 Kart was also involved in the development and between them all they could undoubtedly be laying the foundations for electrifying performance kart racing, sans loud noise and pollution.
According to Bosch’s Markus Heyn, it just an extension of what is happening on the roads, where he thinks electrification will bring more excitement, driving pleasure and greater efficiency and also to the racetrack. “When the FIA, DMSB, Mach 1 Kart, and Bosch decided to develop an all-new electric powertrain for professional karting, they logically began with a blank sheet of paper. The idea was to create a purely electric motorsport discipline that made no compromises in power or performance.
“Bosch motorsport engineers came up with a solution in the form of the new BRS boost recuperation system, whose first generation will go into production next year. The electrical components of the BRS support the internal-combustion motor in compact vehicles with up to 10kW of additional power, which reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 15% on the street. It also provides the internal-combustion engine with an additional 150Nm of torque during acceleration.”
The system has been modified for use in professional karting with specially developed components and powertrain control software from a single source. Two starter-generators delivering a total output of 20kW form the basis of the powertrain that sends a sporting 300Nm of torque to the rear axle. Energy is stored in the system using a 48-volt lithium battery and the starter-generators can recover energy during recuperation and then use it for acceleration. The nerve centre of the powertrain is a custom ECU that controls energy flows throughout the kart. A set of sensors and a wiring harness complete the overall system.
“The new electric powertrain turns the Mach 1 Kart chassis into a clean, fast, and agile performer on the race track. Even during its initial run, the electric kart was able to hit 100 kph in less than five seconds and achieve a top speed of over 130 kph. Over the coming weeks and months we will continue testing to further explore the capabilities of the new e-kart,” added Markus.
National Motor Museum gets its very own version of Grand Theft Auto
The National Motor Museum in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia looks like it’s come up with its very own version of Grand Theft Auto in the form of a $125,000 grant from the Australian government. The money is to be spent on something called “REVolution: where pixels meet motors – an interactive history of video gaming and motor culture”.
The whole thing is the initiative of museum’s director Paul Rees who first had the idea whilst watching his 15-year-old son playing motor racing video games. “I thought that this is part of motoring history [in] how people interact with motoring culture through video games, there’s an exhibition in this. The project will be looking at the early days of racing in modern culture and the influence on video games from motorbikes to motorcars. At the same time we’ve looked at the dashboards of modern day cars and we want to also explore how video gaming has informed the modern car and the modern driving experience.”
Early racing video games in the 1970s included Atari’s Gran Trak 10 and Sega’s Monaco GP then the 80s and 90s saw the introduction of top sellers such as Pole Position, Out Run, Mario Kart, Daytona and Gran Turismo and of course, Grand Theft Auto, which according to Paul is much maligned but much loved and he feels that the project has a duty to look at everything. Adelaide-based tech company Novus Res is to develop a program that will allow visitors to the museum to create a simple motor racing game based on some basic coding techniques. “The idea is to introduce people to basic computer programming by saying ‘you can whip up a game here in five minutes’ and then allowing them to take that game home somehow,” said Paul.
The National Motor Museum that attracts about 60,000 visitors a year to its extensive collection of cars and automobile collectables at Birdwood, South Australia, has already tinkered with the video game idea by setting up racing games on consoles as part of its school holiday programs. The new exhibition, due to open in December 2017, will be on a much grander scale and more of a ‘fun history lesson’ that will give a large percentage of the museum’s traditional visitors a better understanding and appreciation of video gaming.
“It’s really going to be for anyone who remembers the earliest games but I really think this is going to come into its own as an education program working with students. There’s a lot of science technology, engineering and maths that can be taught through video gaming, especially as people want to move into the creative industries. But also, there’s going to be a bunch of people who go ‘wow I remember this’ just like they do now when they come in and say ‘that was my first car’ now it will be ‘that was my first game’,” added Paul.
Honda upgrades Acura autonomous development program
If their PR/marketing campaigns are to believed brands such as Audi, Mercedes and Volvo are the only ones leading the charge into autonomous vehicle development but there are other players, such as Acura, out there doing their bit. Honda’s luxury brand offshoot recently revealed its second-generation automated development vehicle in the shape of a RLX hybrid with updated hardware and software designed to take automation a step further. Honda has been running automated tests at the San Francisco Bay Area’s Concord Naval Weapons Station (CNWS) using the Acura RLX, which relied on a bulging, roof-mounted sensor tower.
The new automated RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD uses a much sleeker roof-top hardware set and the new hardware suite includes new radar, Lidar, camera and GPS sensors. Supporting hardware has also been updated to include higher performance CPUs and GPUs and upgraded circuitry, heat management equipment and cables and more intelligent software algorithms designed to support increasingly complex testing scenarios. Honda Research Institute USA will continue to use the same 5000-acre CNWS proving ground that includes 32 kilometres of paved, urban-style roadway grids, along with buildings and other infrastructure.
Google’s ‘gloogle’ a sticky problem all round
Whilst on the subject of autonomous cars Google has been fiddling around with the idea for a few years and so far its track record for safety is looking pretty good. But even for the best robot drivers, accidents do happen, which has led the tech giant to patented a creative safety feature. And creative it certainly is in the form of an adhesive front end that can glue a pedestrians to the vehicle and prevent them bouncing off and further injuring themselves.
The system, which we hope will be marketed as ‘Gloogle’, takes the opposite approach to pedestrian airbags by using an adhesive layer installed into the hood and front side panels of the self-driving cars. This sticky layer is protected by a thin coating designed to break open on impact. In the unfortunate event that the car collides with a pedestrian, the force cracks the coating, exposes the adhesive and holds the person firmly onto the front of the car, avoiding the secondary impact he or she could suffer by being thrown onto the road, under the vehicle or into another object.
It sounds like an interesting idea, but there are still a few questions left unanswered. What the adhesive itself is made of still seems to be up in the air, with Google canvassing the use of quick-acting, contact, pressure-sensitive and viscous adhesives in the system, as well as the all-important step of ensuring it’s a “releasable adhesive so that the colliding object may be decoupled from the adhesive layer after a period of time.” When that colliding object happens to be your face, you’re going to want it back asap.
Another point to ponder is if this system would actually prove to be saferin all situations than its absence. If a car hits a pedestrian and then falls off a bridge, for example, there’s a definite downside to being glued to the hood, especially is you can’t swim! Like many patents, the technology might never materialise and the patent application acknowledges that even if it does find its way onto the company’s autonomous cars, it may only be a stop-gap: “Such safety mechanisms may become unnecessary as accident-avoidance technology is being further developed.” Source: gizmag
NSX supercar on a steep learning curve
Honda is set to wow visitors to this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed with two very different displays of power in the form of an NSX supercar taking on the legendary hill climb and a CRF1000L Africa Twin kicking up the dirt in the Forest Rally State. McLaren-Honda F1 driver Jenson Button will pilot the supercar and the new CRF1000L Africa Twin will be under the control of four-time motocross world champion, Dave Thorpe.
According to Honda UKs Philip Crossman, the Goodwood Festival of Speed is the unofficial British Motor Show and the perfect opportunity to show off the latest embodiment of two of the company’s iconic products. “We are delight that these two Honda heroes will be piloted by riders and drivers of such significance to both the Honda family and visitors to the Festival of Speed. Made in Marysville, Ohio by a team of just 100 people, the much-anticipated NSX boasts supercar performance is powered by a 3.5-litre DOHC V6 engine, features dynamic torque-vectoring technologies, including super-handling, all-wheel drive and an advanced three-motor sport hybrid system with a twin turbocharged engine that delivers instantaneous, yet broad torque.”
The NSX is due to go on sale in Australia later this year. The Africa Twin is said to be designed as a true adventure motorcycle, mixing touring comfort with all-round usability, whatever the terrain. It boasts switchable rear ABS, multi-mode Honda selectable torque control and an option to specify an all-new dual clutch transmission. The Goodwood Festival of Speed takes place from June 23 to 26.
UK CarConnect plugs into growing PIV energy needs
CarConnect, a pioneering project that will help the electricity industry better understand how plug-in electric vehicles (PIVs) charge at home in harmony with the electricity grid, is now underway in the UK. With increases in battery size and charger rating, PIVs and hybrids are set to become commonplace, with a widening mass appeal and by the early 2020s there could be as many as one million ultra-low emission plug-in-vehicles on UK roads.
This is all good news for air quality and the environment, but PIVs and other projects will have an impact on local electricity networks that will need to be managed. Analysis shows that by 2050 the electricity industry in Great Britain may have to invest an additional £2.2billion to upgrade electricity supply infrastructure to customer premises owing to the additional demand from plug-in-vehicles. This investment needs to start in the early 2020s as plug-in-vehicles become more popular.
CarConnect will find solutions that could avoid the need to replace electricity substations and cables to customers’ homes and workplaces, saving significant cost and disruption to customers. The project will run for three and a half years and will:
- Develop and deliver an electricity network-modelling tool that will enable a power company to identify which parts of their network are susceptible to plug-in-vehicle loads and to assess solutions to avoid network reinforcement works.
- Develop a method for monitoring the effect of plug-in-vehicles on low voltage networks that will inform the network modelling tool development.
- Recruit and manage a mass-market customer trial to prove the technical/economic viability of plug-in-vehicle/V2G demand control to avoid or defer network reinforcement.
Set to be the largest PIV project in the world, CarConnect will be working with up to 700 EV drivers in its trials to ensure that such systems are acceptable.