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‘Self drive’ Daimler truck hits the road in Nevada

  One of the biggest manufacturers of trucks in the US has been granted a license that will allow a number of corporations to test self-driving vehicles on the roads of Nevada. Daimler’s Freightliner Inspiration Truck concept recently took to the highway near Las Vegas and managed to drive itself, with Nevada governor Brian Sandoval behind the wheel…if a pollie can drive the thing, then it must have a brain of its own. The FIT is a follow-up, or follow-on, [ read more ]

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Boxer Rocket ‘on yer bike’ at $10,000

    What’s this got to do with an automotive blog? Well, it is a form of transport and anyway every now and then something comes along that we think, you’ll think, is sort of worth a read. Cargo cycles tend to look much more visually interesting than traditional bikes and trikes, but even within a segment of such new and unusual designs, the Boxer Rocket stands out with bold, stylish looks. Inspired by both fictional and real-life aircraft from decades [ read more ]

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F1 suspension adds extra track speed to new tank

  CLICK HERE TO VIEW BAE Systems has introduced active suspension to its CV90 range of combat vehicles. The British defence engineering giant has adapted a system, originally developed for use in Grand Prix racing in the 1990s, to improve handling and speed across the battlefield. The ‘active damping’ system has seen the firms CV90 combat vehicles fitted with it breaking speed records in rough terrain and displaying increased agility by reducing the vehicle’s pitch acceleration by approximately 40%.   [ read more ]

‘Self drive’ Daimler truck hits the road in Nevada

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One of the biggest manufacturers of trucks in the US has been granted a license that will allow a number of corporations to test self-driving vehicles on the roads of Nevada. Daimler’s Freightliner Inspiration Truck concept recently took to the highway near Las Vegas and managed to drive itself, with Nevada governor Brian Sandoval behind the wheel…if a pollie can drive the thing, then it must have a brain of its own. The FIT is a follow-up, or follow-on, to the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025, unveiled late last year, which is being used to develop similar self-driving technology over in Europe.

 

The truck features Daimler’s intelligent Highway Pilot system for autonomous driving, which is being developed with technology used by Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles. For licensing on Nevada roads, the technology was further developed and put through a series of tests including more than 10,000 miles on a dedicated circuit in Germany.

 

The Highway Pilot system comprises radar and stereo camera monitoring systems that look up to 250 metres ahead and incorporates cruise control, lane-keeping and collision-prevention technologies. Once the driver activates the system, it regulates the speed, applies the brakes and steers the vehicle under a wide range of driving conditions, automatically complying with speed limits, regulating the distance from the vehicle ahead, or operating the stop-and-go function during rush hour.

 

Overtaking and entering or leaving the highway is the responsibility of the driver who can deactivate the Highway Pilot at any time. If the vehicle is no longer able to process crucial aspects of its environment, such as road construction or severe weather, the driver is prompted to retake control well in advance. FITs can communicate with each other using radio waves to link up in convoy that allows them to drive much closer to each other and improve fuel efficiency by lowering drag.

 

CLICK HERE TO VIEW

Boxer Rocket ‘on yer bike’ at $10,000

 

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What’s this got to do with an automotive blog? Well, it is a form of transport and anyway every now and then something comes along that we think, you’ll think, is sort of worth a read. Cargo cycles tend to look much more visually interesting than traditional bikes and trikes, but even within a segment of such new and unusual designs, the Boxer Rocket stands out with bold, stylish looks. Inspired by both fictional and real-life aircraft from decades way past, the new bicycle carries passengers in an aluminum-skinned ‘rocket.’

 

If it looks like a piece of functional art that should be behind velvet rope at a museum then that’s not surprising as the thing was originally put together as a one-off promotional design for a bike shop named Rockets and Rascals. But after receiving all kinds of positive feedback, Boxer decided to put it into production, marketing it as tricycle that can add some fun and flair to pedalling with children.

 

If you have that unshakeable feeling that you’ve seen the Boxer Rocket trike somewhere before, it’s probably because the front ‘rocket’ shell was inspired by the most infamous aircraft of all time, the Hindenburg. It’s not a dead ringer…unfortunate, phrase that…but the button nose and ribbed body show clear Hindenburg influence. Boxer also took some inspiration from the aircraft of the fictional worlds’ of Flash Gordon and Jules Verne, creating a familiar but unique fuselage that Boxer calls an art deco rocket.

 

 

The Rocket’s front seating area offers room for up to four children on two bench seats. Five-point seat belts keep the beasts safe and secure and the seats recline, using quick-release hardware, allowing the children to get comfortable and hopefully, nod off to sleep. When the trike’s not in use, or parked in at the gym, the seats can be reclined into a flat bed. The hollow nose cone compartment, accessed by the interior panel, includes space for storing up to five helmets or other items.

 

While it looks like the Rocket passenger cell could be handy for transporting other types of cargo, Boxer tells us that it wasn’t specifically built for hauling anything but passengers. The UK-based company offers the Cargo and Shuttle models for other hauling needs. Boxer continues the whimsical look of the Rocket trike right into the rider section of the frame. It describes this part of the build as a heavy-duty 1930s-airliner-inspired girder frame, and it certainly complements the rocket box better than the typical tubular cycle structure.

 

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The company says that the chassis geometry was custom designed for a smooth ride and includes a leaning action for sharpened cornering. Each cycle includes a full electrical system with centrally mounted headlight with high/low switching, tail/brake light, left and right turn indicators and electric horn. Boxer was selling both electric-assist and manual models but has decided to focus on the electric version leaving manual models for customised jobs.

 

The E-Rocket is equipped with a Swiss-designed motor system of between 250 and 500 watts, has seven gears and is powered by a 36V 11.4-Ah battery. The unit also includes an LCD handlebar computer and USB port for charging devices. Standard components include front and rear disc brakes, a Brooks B33 saddle and ultra heavy-duty wheels wrapped in Schwalbe Marathon Plus kevlar-reinforced tyres and a rain cover, which one would regard as a must in the UK. It’s all very cute, but not very cheap. This Rocket will burn a hole in your pocket to the tune of £5500 (about $A10,500). Thank you and good night.

 

Source: Boxer Cycles/gizmag

F1 suspension adds extra track speed to new tank

 

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CLICK HERE TO VIEW

BAE Systems has introduced active suspension to its CV90 range of combat vehicles. The British defence engineering giant has adapted a system, originally developed for use in Grand Prix racing in the 1990s, to improve handling and speed across the battlefield. The ‘active damping’ system has seen the firms CV90 combat vehicles fitted with it breaking speed records in rough terrain and displaying increased agility by reducing the vehicle’s pitch acceleration by approximately 40%.

 

The system works by sensing the speed of the vehicle and lay-out of the terrain ahead and responding by pressurising the suspension to keep the vehicle on a level plane at all times. In Formula 1 this was done to ensure a stable aerodynamic platform in cornering, something that was also achieved more recently with FRICS. The increased stability on the combat vehicles helps reduce the wear and tear and subsequently reduce through-life repair costs for each vehicle, despite seeing each able to travel 30–40% faster on rough terrain.

 

CLICK HERE TO VIEW

For the crew of a CV90, the technology means a smoother ride and a reduction in fatigue; an important factor on the battlefield. The reduced vertical motion also increases the gunner’s probability of finding and hitting targets. In trials the CV90’s using the system proved to be faster on a rough terrain course than main battle tanks such as the Challenger 2 and Leopard 2.

 

Dan Lindell, CV90 platform manager at BAE Systems, said: “Adapting the active damping system for the first time from a light weight car to a heavy tracked vehicle such as CV90 was a unique challenge for us, but this advanced technology will deliver results to our customers in terms of vehicle performance and savings on the through life costs, as well as providing real benefits to the front line solider”

 

The CV90 is designed and built by BAE Systems in Sweden and is one of the largest families of armoured combat vehicles. CV90 is currently used in countries such as Norway, Finland and Denmark and has successfully performed in global operations including UN and NATO collaborations. Formula 1 has considered re-introducing active damping in recent months to make up for the loss of front to rear interconnected suspension systems. Active suspension was openly used in F1 during straight line testing until testing away from F1 standard circuits was banned. Similar systems are still used in Nascar. Source: Racecar Engineering

CLICK HERE TO VIEW

 

Beaurepaires wins top employer accolade

 

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Our previous post, Random act of kindness helps house homeless youth, was intended to show that not everything happening in the world is as bad as the media makes out and now, quite by chance, we have another good news story, this time from Perth. Beaurepaires, one of Australia’s leading tyre retailers, has been named Employer of the Year for its commitment to providing and supporting employment for those with disabilities.

 

The award was made by Bizlink an organisation that assists people with a disability in preparing for, finding and securing a job with ongoing support. For the past five years Beaurepaires has partnered with the not-for-profit organisation during which time the tyre retailer has supported seven employees.

 

The strong relationship between the two organisations began when Beaurepaires’ Kelvin Harvey and Bizlink’s support coordinator Troy Sabetta got together to secure a work experience opportunity for a Bizlink client that resulted in a successful full time contract:  “We’ve had some incredible employees through the Bizlink programme over the years and some particularly great success stories. The employees have become great assets to our business and are reliable, popular and confident team members,” said Kelvin.

 

True to the notion of success is Mitchell Weckman of the Beaurepaires’ Claremont store, who joined the company as a tyre fitter in March 2014 and is now the assistant store manager. Mitchell is diagnosed with autism and found it difficult to gain employment before being employed by Beaurepaires:   “I was referred to Bizlink by a friend when I was struggling to find work and quickly found employment with Beaurepaires through the programme. I really enjoy my job and the company has been a great support, along with continued help from Bizlink. I’m now working towards one day becoming a store manager,” he said.

 

Beaurepairers was considered for the award, alongside 95 other employers, on the basis of the number of Bizlink workers employed, the level and nature of interaction with staff and customers, the level of support given for training and inclusion, and a commitment to the value of a ‘fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swaying, sagging, bouncing and other towing hazards

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If you’ve ever been on the M3 out of Sydney towing a caravan or trailer and heading into a strong southerly then you’ll be well aware that it can be quite a hairy experience. Even in calm conditions, on a friendly suburb street towing a trailer, boat or whatever, can present problems, especially when the load being pulled is in excess of the power of the vehicle to do so safely and efficiently.

 

All-Air Suspension recently published a list of some of what to lookout for including sagging, leaning, swaying and bouncing. If you’re all hooked up and one half of the vehicle looks visibly lower than the other, then you’ve got suspension sag, which means that the vehicles suspension is not able to cope with the load. Driving with suspension sag leads to extra wear and tear on the vehicle and is less than safe when braking and turning. Putting too much load on one side of the vehicle with a suspension not set up to handle an uneven load is also a no-no as it makes a vehicle particularly unsafe on corners and uneven surfaces.

 

Most vehicles are designed to handle regular bumps and potholes, but under a heavy load it’s a whole new ball game. A vehicle can become very unstable and start bouncing and swaying that in turn will seriously compromise steering and braking. Heavier loads will inevitably wear down shock absorbers faster than usual. The general rule is that a set of shocks should last up to 80,000kms. If they’re not then it could be due to increased pressure from hauling heavy loads without adequate suspension. Then there’s the all-important GVM. What? Gross Vehicle Mass set by the manufacturer and going over the limit is nearly as dangerous as exceeding the alcohol limit. Exceeding the gross vehicle mass should be avoided at all cost as it puts enormous strain on the vehicle and puts its occupants at great risk.

 

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All-Air Suspension has a motive in supplying this information in that it can sell you a sound solution to most of the problems listed above through its Firestone airbag kits that have earned a sound reputation for supporting suspensions, particularly under heavy or uneven loads. The kits can be adjusted for varying loads and road conditions by simply inflating or deflating, just like inflating a tyre. When towing caravans, boats and trailers, or when a vehicle or truck is carrying heavy, uneven loads, airbags are used for front-to-rear and side-to-side ‘level up’ providing full adjustability for off-road or passenger loading.

 

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The range includes Ride-Rite airbags designed to fit between a vehicles chassis and the axle or leaf spring to provide leveling control, front-to-rear and side-to-side, when a vehicle is under load. The heavy-duty, double convoluted airbags are a two ply, reinforced rubber bellows. Coil Right airbags are, as the name suggests, designed to fit inside existing coil springs to provide leveling control whilst On-Air is a full air suspension applied to vehicles where the coil springs are removed and replaced with airbags. More info @ www.allair.com.au

Random act of kindness helps house homeless youth

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“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.” This famous quotation, attributed to Mark Twain, still rings true whether you get you news fix from the radio, TV or internet. No matter what your preference, over the past few weeks you’d have been inundated by the sort of information that can only lead one to believe that the world is a pretty mean sort of place. But if this is the case, you would, as Mr Twain says, be misinformed, because it is not all bad, especially when one gets to hear about a random act of kindness, such as an anonymous donation to charity that took place recently in NSW.

 

The story begins a few years ago when our Good Samaritan treated himself to a 1985 Ferrari Modial Coupe with the intention or roaring around at the weekend. But the novelty soon wore off and this valuable piece of prancing horse history has since spent much of its time in the garage. The Ferrari Mondial was produced between 1980 and 1993 and sold as offering four-seat comfort and the performance of a Ferrari. Just over 6000 were produced, most of which have become collectors items, including a metallic grey version in great condition, with a mere 130,000kms on the clock, now taking up space in a Sydney lockup that the owner wanted for other purposes. So, there was no alternative but to sell and put up with all the hassle that this entails even for a collectors item.

 

Being a man of generous spirit, he had thought of sending it to auction and giving the proceeds to a charity, but even this would take up quite a bit of his valuable time. Then his attention was drawn to the idle solution, Kids Under Cover, a national, not-for-profit, organisation that offers a free and fast alternative to selling or trading-in a vehicle and at the same time doing something to help prevent youth homelessness.

 

“We are absolutely over the moon with this incredibly generous donation. While we have personally thanked the anonymous donor, we know that the proceeds raised through the auction of this rare and expensive vehicle will go a long way to assisting in the life of a young person and that young person’s gratitude will be greater than anyone’s,” said Kids Under Cover’s CEO, Jo Swift.

 

Equally excited is Sam Hunter, who will auction the vehicle at Manheims in Sydney on 12th May with 100% of the proceeds going directly to Kids Under Cover: “We don’t often get a chance to auction off such a desirable and collectable donated vehicle. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to secure, not only an amazing vehicle, but also knowing that the sale proceeds go to a worthy cause. I cannot think of a better outcome for this wonderful vehicle.”

 

Independent research shows that for every dollar invested in the work of Kids Under Cover an average of $3.30 is saved in the form of reduced health and justice costs and more importantly a young person is no longer at risk of becoming homeless and is housed in secure and stable accommodation.

 

“Helping to prevent youth homelessness can be simple. All it takes is filling in an online form and Kids Under Cover will pick a vehicle free of charge and 100% of sale proceeds will go to helping at-risk young people stay connected to home and education,” said Joe.

CLICK HERE for further info about Kids Under Cover and HERE for Manheim Car Auctions.

Hino Australia turns of the celebrations at the Brisbane Truck Show

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It’s one of the last big time, gloss and glitter, in your face, truck shows left, which is probably why Hino Australia is going all out to make it’s presence felt at the Brisbane Truck Show. There’s also the fact that the company is celebrating the brand’s 50th anniversary in Australia and will display models from its 300, 500 and 700 Series ranges, an important historical vehicle plus a range of what is says are innovative new truck accessories. The 300 Series light duty models will include a 716 Hybrid, from the TNT, which operates the largest hybrid truck fleet in Australia, a 717 Crew Tipper and the 921 Auto, said to be most powerful light duty truck on the market, fitted with a range of accessories. The 500 Series will be represented by the new FE 1426 Auto, equipped with a tilt tray and an FM 2630 Auto, the latest addition to Hino’s ‘two pedal’ model line up. There’s also an FS 2848 ProShift 16 AMT tipper from the 700 series
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One of the vehicles will be fitted with the Hino lane change visual assist system that displays side view images on a multimedia unit when the turning indicator is used. The Hino DVR dash cam features a 5.0 megapixel front camera and a 2.0 megapixel rear camera that record HD driving footage using two channels with Android/iOS support, digital zoom and parking monitoring.
 

A 1970 Hino KL 300 that is still in excellent condition after having clocked up more than 1.6 million kilometres will support the anniversary theme. The truck belongs to CMI Hino, which itself has put a few clicks on the clock having been a Hino dealer for 45 years. The KL 300 is equipped with an EC 100 engine, which develops 88kW and 298Nm of torque. The Brisbane Truck Show runs from 14 to 17 May. For more info @ www.brisbanetruckshow.com.au.

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SmartRim adds breathing space to the ego

 

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Few driving noises can be as damaging to the ego as that of a wheel scraping against the curb when parking. It means you’ve hopelessly misjudged your distances and inflicted some ugly and potentially expensive damage on the ‘alloys’. But help is on hand in the form of the SmartRim which uses a sensor that measures the time taken for ultrasonic waves to reflect off nearby objects dozens of times every second.

 

smartrim-wheel-sensorThe device also contains a micro-electromechanical sensor that is used to constantly measure acceleration and can reportedly detect actions like a person entering the vehicle. This helps it to be aware of its environment and allows it to become active only when necessary, thus saving energy.

 

The product, attached in just a couple of minutes to the inside of a wheel well using a high bond adhesive and removable clip base-plate, is powered by a single AA battery that is said to last for more than 1000 parking cycles. What is more, the SmartRim is waterproof, dust-proof, dirt-proof, vibration-proof and able to operate between temperatures of -29 to 49°C. smartrim-wheel-sensor-2The sensors are wireless and relay information to an accompanying iOS mobile app, which is then used to provide alerts when the vehicle gets near to a curb, wall or other hazard.

 

An Indiegogo crowd funding campaign for the SmartRim has just launched, with a pledge of US$345 currently getting you a set of the sensors, when and if they reach production. A subsequent retail launch will reportedly see the system priced at $495 per vehicle, for which buyers will receive a sensor for each wheel and the SmartRim app. CLICK HERE TO VIEW the video.Sources: SmartRimIndiegogo