Monday, February 28, 2011

Once upon a time in a traffic jam

...directly behind a bus a smart engineer was struck by a brilliant idea: Why do buses in heavy-traffic areas not simply drive on stilts?

Image source:

No sooner said than done: The south Chinese company Shenzhen Huashi Future Parking Equipment has found a really futuristic solution matching its own name: buses that simply bridge traffic jams and other obstacles on fence-like stilts.

Image source:

Why making the simple complicated :)


Monday, February 21, 2011

Ecological power deluxe

The Porsche 918 Spyder drives frenzied activity into the gear of electric vehicle specialists such as Tesla Motors.

For too long hybrid cars had been reserved to manufacturers such as Toyota and Honda. German car manufacturers seemed to have been missing the trend. Now Porsche leaves all other cars in the dust with the 918 Spyder, currently the fastest hybrid vehicle in the world. Faster than most sports cars and more economical than any small car.

The elegant green ultra-fast car accelerates from a standstill to 100 km/h in just under 3.2 seconds, top speed of 320 km/h (198 mph) - without any emissions in the "E-drive"-mode because it is electrically driven. It can cover a distance of 25 km. If you want to jet through the city centre you should have 450,000 euros at hand. The new high-performance hybrids from Porsche illustrate one aspect, in spite of the utopian price: Even car producers who were quite hesitant to start with have got wind of the emission restrictions and specifications concerning low petrol consumption.

"In the innovative 918 Spyder concept study Porsche combines "intelligent performance" technology, motor sport high tech and also its classic modern shape language to a convincing statement."

The 8-cylinder engine with a cylinder capacity of 3.6 litres achieves 500 HP at max. 9,000 rpm. The rear drive works with a dual-clutch transmission with 7 gears. An electric motor between the engine and the transmission provides an additional torque. Electric motors on each of the two front wheels ensure 4-wheel drive. The three electric motors fed by lithium ion batteries with 5.1 kilowatt hours provide an additional 218 HP. According to simultaneous calculations made by Porsche the 918 Spyder is even a bit faster than the last super model, the Carrera GT. What remains to be said? Today ecological awareness is more elegant and somewhat more expensive than jute bags and batik shirts.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Intelligent traffic lights

A new project has caused sensation in Lower Saxony and provides a new dimension of driving safety. Traffic lights fully equipped with brand-new sensors communicate with vehicles that also brim over with technology.

The only question is: When will infrastructure adapt to these developments so that investment into illustrious names such as stereo camera, Lidar sensor or a 77-gigahertz radar also pay for the conventional consumer?

What do you think?

Sorry, only in German:

And now we do not even have to take pains to test the tire pressure:

Sorry, only in German:

Monday, February 7, 2011

Bye bye transistor

Hello memristor!

Memristor is a new word creation from memory and resistor because its characteristics are some kind of crossbreed between these two components. "It is a passive electric component in which the resistance is not constant but a function of the history. It is described as the fourth fundamental passive component, besides the resistor, the capacitor and the coil. In contrast to the other three components that came into existence in the early stages of electronic technology, the memristor could not be built before the year 2007."

Image source: Wikimedia, J. J. Yang, HP Labs.

Leon Chua (University of California, Berkeley) described the memristor already in the year 1971 which at that time did not exist as a passive component. The first physical implementation of a thin-layer composite with such characteristics was reported in 2007.

In April 2008 researchers at the HP labs presented a relatively easy-structured layer composite of titanium dioxide with platinum electrodes as a memristor.

Its decisive advantage: A computer equipped with memristors could boot within fractions of a second because its state remains even when disconnected. "For years, we have made such tests", says HP Labs Senior Fellow Stan Williams. Today's PCs lose the contents of their working memories when switched off - the PC has to retrieve the requested information from the hard disk at each start.

The electronic components can even do a lot more: According to Williams, the memristors can also be linked to logic components to execute calculation operations and - in contrast to today's processors - they can also assume interim values and not only the values "0" and "1". They are possible because memristors do not have a constant but a variable resistor which can be continuously adjusted when the applied voltage is changed. The inventor is convinced that one day the hard disks, RAM and digital flash memories will be ready for the museum. These memory media are much too slow and physics restricts its miniaturisation. In already just a few years the HP developers will oust these memories from computers and mobile phones - and one day they will even make microprocessors redundant.

The idea of a memristor came to Leon Chua, today a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Berkeley who formulated the mathematical bases of electrical components in his doctorate thesis at the end of the 60ies. According to Chua's formulas there would have to be four of them: resistors, capacitances (capacitors), inductances (coils) and a crossbreed of a controllable resistor and memory function.