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    0 0

    Skin Head A stretchy skin-like material lets the helmet skid more freely across the ground.
    MORE INFO: Lazer Solano SuperSkin $315 (est.); lazerhelmets.comCourtesy Lazer Helmets
    The Lazer Solano SuperSkin keeps a rider's head aligned during a crash

    A motorcycle accident can damage your brain in two ways: from the direct blow when your head hits the road, and then from the way your head turns, spinning violently and knocking your gray matter around inside your skull. Most helmets protect against the initial impact but not the rotation that follows, so Lazer Helmets built gear that keeps your head straighter.

    The trick is covering an ordinary helmet frame in a skin-like layer that, similar to human flesh, can slide independently across the hard skeleton beneath it. The gliding reduces the torque of the helmet and the brain inside, which could cut by almost 70 percent the risk of "intracranial shearing"-the tearing of blood vessels and nerves caused by a twisting brain.

    The Solano SuperSkin motorcycle helmet is available now in Europe and goes on sale in the U.S. next year. The inventor of the skin material, English doctor Ken Phillips, is currently testing a model for equestrians, and he's also adapting the technology to protect football players throughout a game.


    Most helmets hit the ground [A] and then rotate [B], a movement that can force your brain to twist and bang against your skull. When the SuperSkin helmet hits the road [C], however, its synthetic outer membrane moves over a thin layer of gel-like lubricant. The membrane flattens and stretches to as much as eight times its original size, allowing the frame inside to slide sideways for a few milliseconds instead of rolling around its curved shape. That helps keep the helmet on a straighter path [D] (even if it bounces off the road) so your brain gets less jostled after the initial impact.


    0 0

    The Urban Commute, 2020Illustration: Steve Karp

    PopSci looks at eight technologies that will make future automotive adventures free of traffic jams, fender benders and fruitless hunts for parking spaces.

    A. Traffic Probes

    Taking a cue from crowd-sourced navigation on GPS-equipped smartphones, networked cars will act as probes, delivering real-time traffic, weather and accident data.

    B. Cars that Never Tailgate

    By roughly 2015, General Motors says, its adaptive cruise control systems will not simply adjust to slower cars ahead but will check for a lane opening and steer around cars without having to slow down. The next wireless step: "platooned" autos, linked in manageable groups to travel highways like coupled freight cars, which would save fuel, reduce pileups, do wonders for traffic jams-and free drivers from commuting drudgery. As early proof, this March GM's new EN-V concept cars-electric two-passenger urban transportation pods-will drive around a GM exhibit in Shanghai in a choreographed display of wireless automation.

    C. Beacons for Pedestrians and Cyclists

    Nonmotorists can join the network by carrying a simple transponder that alerts cars to their presence, fixes their location, and ensures that cars don't hit them.

    D. Crash Mitigation

    If a collision is unavoidable, networked cars could automatically reposition before a crash to protect occupants, such as pivoting a car to turn a deadly T-bone accident into a survivable rear-ender instead. (Mercedes's latest safety concept car already inflates metallic structures inside the doors to create a beefier barrier.)

    E. Take-Charge Emergency Vehicles and Motorcycles

    Ambulances will digitally broadcast their out-of-my-way signal into cars ahead or even require them to automatically slow down and pull over. Motorcycles will get a digital assist, too. People often miss them in their rearview mirrors, but to automated cars they will be as visible as an 18-wheeler.

    F. Sticky Lanes

    New satellites will allow cars to pinpoint their position within an inch. That "lane-specific" level of accuracy can help cars "snap to" a digitally mapped lane like a slot car on a track when a driver daydreams or falls asleep, even on the snow-covered or poorly marked roads that confuse today's lane-departure cameras.

    G. Smart Intersections

    You'll never see the drunk driver that's about to run the red light. But a smart intersection could save your life. Twenty percent of all crash fatalities and 40 percent of accidents occur at intersections. Smart intersections will communicate with cars, beaming them visual and audio collision warnings, and even taking direct action to slow or stop vehicles and prevent offenders from running red lights entirely.

    H. Parking Lots that Talk

    Many cars can already parallel-park with little or no human input. Tomorrow's networked cars and parking lots will tell each other when and where a spot opens up, saving drivers from wasting precious time and gas while circling the block. Drivers can beeline to open slots, or head to work and let the car park itself-and then call the car to come fetch them at day's end.


    0 0

    Crashed CarCha già José via Flickr

    Someday your car will give you recommendations on where to eat, suggest more efficient routes between home and work, and even monitor your health. But for now it's just keeping tabs on your driving habits, recording your behavior in case it needs to be reconstructed after an accident.

    Federal officials are poised to announce next month that all cars must contain a black box, similar to that installed on airplanes, to give authorities a glimpse of your activities in the event of a car wreck. The devices could help pin down what happened in the moments before a crash, helping authorities determine who is at fault for what, and eliminating uncertainty from human witnesses.

    Many cars with airbags and other systems already use electronic data recorders, but there are no clear federal rules about how the data can or should be used, as Wired's Autopia blog points out. Some states allow automobile black box data to be used in court, but others do not. Automakers have different, proprietary data storage systems, and there is no clearly defined method to retrieve it.

    General Motors can find out plenty of information about your driving habits, as Autopia explains, like whether you used your turn signal and whether you buckled your seat belt. GM can use this information to build better safety systems, but it can conceivably be used by insurance companies, too, when determining how to pay claims or assign fault. Or it could be used by legal authorities to prove guilt or negligence.

    It's not a far leap to car black boxes that can figure out whether you were distracted by your cell phone, for instance, which could help attorneys prove liability in court cases. Combine that with iPhone tracking data and you could really have some privacy concerns.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expected to issue federal guidelines for how the data can and cannot be used, Autopia says.

    [Autopia]


    0 0

    Robo Sense If Mercedes's pedestrian-detecting Spotlight system detects an oncoming car, it will refrain from flashing its brights, lest it make things worse by blinding the driver of the oncoming car.

    The idea of a robot assuming control of your car takes some getting used to. But the race to build increasingly autonomous automotive safety systems is well under way, as the cost of cameras and sensors drops and engineers get better at programming those tools to work together.

    A big advance arrives this fall with the 2012 Mercedes-Benz CL-class. Its Spotlight safety system will link night-vision cameras with video-driven adaptive high beams to find people in the car's path and warn both driver and pedestrian. An onboard computer continuously scans images captured by the car's windshield mounted night-vision camera, looking for human shapes. If it finds one, the headlights point at the person and flash. Joerg Breuer, the manager for Active Safety Systems at Mercedes, says Spotlight detects pedestrians 1.3 seconds earlier than a driver can.

    Laser scanners will make sensor-driven safety systems more accurate still. Take BMW's Left Turn Assist, which the company revealed earlier this year but hasn't yet slated for production. Left Turn Assist uses a trio of laser scanners, along with a lane-detecting video camera and GPS, to make left turns-statistically one of the most dangerous maneuvers on the road-safer. When a computer senses that the driver is about to take a left, lasers scan a 200-degree field for hazards. If the system detects an imminent threat, and the car is moving slower than 6 mph, it will brake automatically. At higher speeds, it triggers audio and visual alarms. Laser scanners are still prohibitively expensive, says Dirk Wisselman, BMW's head of Advanced Safety Systems, but the cost is falling quickly.

    Wisselman sees Left Turn Assist as only a first step. The real change, he says, will come from car-to-car communication, in which vehicles can detect one another and share information about speed and trajectory. "This has tremendous implications for safety," Wisselman says. "And I think we'll see it in the next decade."


    0 0

    Crash in the UKjf01350 via Flickr

    Police in England will soon deploy 3-D laser scanners to the scene of car crashes, saving time and allowing wreckage to be cleared from roadways more quickly. The 3-D accident reconstruction will also be more accurate than human-generated reports.

    In the UK as in the US, a car wreck involving injuries or fatalities must be painstakingly recorded and preserved for insurance and court proceedings. Police investigators might block off the roadway for several hours as they take pictures of the scene and record measurements to log what happened. In the US, accident reconstruction is also big business, with experts retained by lawyers to discuss speeds, trajectories and impact physics.

    The laser scanner will capture a 360-degree image of a crash scene, the BBC reports. Mounted on a tripod, a laser scans the horizon and records up to 30 million separate data points, down to sub-millimeter resolution. Each sweep takes four minutes, and investigators will typically make four sweeps, the BBC says. The image can then be processed into a 3-D computer model, allowing investigators to see where the vehicles are located relative to each other, tire skid marks, and other evidence.

    In the US, some private accident reconstruction firms have also begun using laser scanners, but on a limited basis. Faro Technologies Inc., maker of several 3-D scanners, just last month held a webinar on how to use them for this purpose. It seems like such an obvious use for the technology, it's a wonder it is not already widespread.

    The UK Department of Transport provided $4.8 million (£3 million) to buy 20 of the scanners. For now, this particular system will only be available in England, BBC says.

    [BBC]


    0 0

    Leave it to a human to crash an autonomous car

    Google's self-driving cars have apparently had their first fender-bender - and it was a person's fault, the company says.

    The car blog Jalopnik posted the above photo of one of Google's self-driving cars, which they identified by the rack on the roof that resembles a smaller version of the Street View setup. It appears to have rear-ended another Prius, to the obvious dismay of the people gathered around it.

    But shortly thereafter, Google gave this statement to Business Insider: "Safety is our top priority. One of our goals is to prevent fender-benders like this one, which occurred while a person was manually driving the car."

    So it wasn't the car's fault, apparently. Good news for those following the forthcoming wave of autonomous car technology.

    Google has been driving around a fleet of self-driving cars for several months now, and recently lobbied the state of Nevada to pass a bill requiring new regulations for the unmanned vehicles. While safety is clearly one of the biggest concerns, cases like this also raise questions about fault. Autonomous cars are supposed to improve safety by preventing human error, but what happens when someone - a manual operator or a programmer - makes a mistake? How do you cite a car with no driver?

    In this crash, at least, the apparent involvement of a live human person clears up any issues surrounding liability and fault - the driver can accept that, leaving the autonomous Prius blameless. Those questions will have to be answered before driverless cars take over our roadways.

    But this incident is yet another example - as if we need one - of the human capacity for error. Hopefully when cars do take over, they'll be able to prevent these types of incidents on their own.

    [Jalopnik]


    0 0

    Let It BurnCourtesy Dupont
    Sometimes, the best way to improve a new material is to beat the hell out of it.

    Failure is supposed to be a bad thing. In materials science, however, understanding and predicting how a new fiber, composite material, or type of plastic breaks, snaps, melts, fractures, or rips can mean the difference between life and death. Engineers need to know if an armored steel plate will stop a high-velocity bullet or whether a specialized car-seat foam will effectively absorb the impact of a crash.

    Destructive testing can also help scientists figure out how to enhance a given material's properties, as with composites for aircraft wings or polymers used in electronics. Across the U.S., dozens of labs concoct elaborate and sometimes genuinely perilous tests in the name of safety and knowledge. PopSci spoke with materials scientists, CEOs, and researchers to find four of the most extreme labs in the nation.

    Click here to enter the gallery


    0 0

    Volvo V40's Pedestrian AirbagVolvo
    An automatic pedestrian-detection system can warn drivers when people are likely to step out onto the road, and cushion a collision.

    Volvo, the Swedish carmaker known for its safety engineering (a Volvo engineer invented the modern 3-point seat belt), has turned their focus to keeping those outside the car safe too. Starting with their Volvo V40, they've introduced the first car airbag for pedestrians.

    First introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in March, the 2013 V40 has now gone on sale in Australia, though it likely won't be sold in the U.S.

    Though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that total traffic fatalities are decreasing, American pedestrian and cyclist fatalities have been on the upswing. Of the 32,367 traffic fatalities in 2012, 16 percent were not inside the car. Volvo is not the first automaker to try to design cars that are safer both inside and out.

    In response to European Union pedestrian safety laws passed in the early 2000s, Jaguar began making some of its international models with a Pedestrian Contact Sensing System. It launches open the car's hood if it senses pedestrian contact, hopefully softening the impact of a collision and preventing them from hitting their head on the engine below.

    In November 2012, TNO, a Dutch company, debuted an airbag prototype designed to cushion bikers at the International Cycling Safety Congress.

    Volvo's system combines this type of technology with an automatic Pedestrian Detection system that can apply the brakes if a driver doesn't respond in time to a person stepping in front of their car.

    Radar within the grille of the car detects the distance between an object in front of the car, while a camera in the rear-view window determines what the object is. The system is programmed to warn a driver with sound and a flashing light if a pedestrian is likely to step out in front of the car. If the driver doesn't respond and the system recognizes an imminent crash, it brakes the car automatically. It can also brake to prevent collisions with another vehicle.

    The auto-detection system is designed for urban areas, and can stop a car at speeds up to about 21 miles per hour, or can slow it down at higher speeds. If it can't prevent a crash, it deploys a pedestrian airbag outside the car. The pedestrian airbag system is active between speeds of 20 to 50 km per hour, or about 12 to 30 per hour -- the speeds at which most pedestrian accidents occur.

    Before the airbag deploys, seven sensors on the front of the car determine if a human leg comes into contact with the bumper. An airbag raises the hood of the car 10 cm and extends to cover part of the windshield, deploying in less than a second. The extra space between the hood and the engine compartment allows the hood to dent and cushions the pedestrian's impact.

    [Inhabitat]


    0 0

    Skin Head
    A stretchy skin-like material lets the helmet skid more freely across the ground. MORE INFO: Lazer Solano SuperSkin $315 (est.); lazerhelmets.com
    Courtesy Lazer Helmets

    A motorcycle accident can damage your brain in two ways: from the direct blow when your head hits the road, and then from the way your head turns, spinning violently and knocking your gray matter around inside your skull. Most helmets protect against the initial impact but not the rotation that follows, so Lazer Helmets built gear that keeps your head straighter.

    The trick is covering an ordinary helmet frame in a skin-like layer that, similar to human flesh, can slide independently across the hard skeleton beneath it. The gliding reduces the torque of the helmet and the brain inside, which could cut by almost 70 percent the risk of "intracranial shearing"—the tearing of blood vessels and nerves caused by a twisting brain.

    The Solano SuperSkin motorcycle helmet is available now in Europe and goes on sale in the U.S. next year. The inventor of the skin material, English doctor Ken Phillips, is currently testing a model for equestrians, and he's also adapting the technology to protect football players throughout a game.

    Crash Test
    Helmets are tested by dropping them onto anvils. The SuperSkin rolls less after it lands.
    Paul Wootton

    Most helmets hit the ground [A] and then rotate [B], a movement that can force your brain to twist and bang against your skull. When the SuperSkin helmet hits the road [C], however, its synthetic outer membrane moves over a thin layer of gel-like lubricant. The membrane flattens and stretches to as much as eight times its original size, allowing the frame inside to slide sideways for a few milliseconds instead of rolling around its curved shape. That helps keep the helmet on a straighter path [D] (even if it bounces off the road) so your brain gets less jostled after the initial impact.

    0 0

    The Urban Commute, 2020
    Illustration: Steve Karp

    PopSci looks at eight technologies that will make future automotive adventures free of traffic jams, fender benders and fruitless hunts for parking spaces.

    A. Traffic Probes

    Taking a cue from crowd-sourced navigation on GPS-equipped smartphones, networked cars will act as probes, delivering real-time traffic, weather and accident data.

    Cars That Never Tailgate
    Illustration: Steve Karp

    B. Cars that Never Tailgate

    By roughly 2015, General Motors says, its adaptive cruise control systems will not simply adjust to slower cars ahead but will check for a lane opening and steer around cars without having to slow down. The next wireless step: "platooned" autos, linked in manageable groups to travel highways like coupled freight cars, which would save fuel, reduce pileups, do wonders for traffic jams—and free drivers from commuting drudgery. As early proof, this March GM's new EN-V concept cars—electric two-passenger urban transportation pods—will drive around a GM exhibit in Shanghai in a choreographed display of wireless automation.

    Beacons for Pedestrians and Cyclists
    Illustration: Steve Karp

    C. Beacons for Pedestrians and Cyclists

    Nonmotorists can join the network by carrying a simple transponder that alerts cars to their presence, fixes their location, and ensures that cars don't hit them.

    Crash Mitigation
    Illustration: Steve Karp

    D. Crash Mitigation

    If a collision is unavoidable, networked cars could automatically reposition before a crash to protect occupants, such as pivoting a car to turn a deadly T-bone accident into a survivable rear-ender instead. (Mercedes's latest safety concept car already inflates metallic structures inside the doors to create a beefier barrier.)

    Take-Charge Emergency Vehicles and Motorcycles
    Illustration: Steve Karp

    E. Take-Charge Emergency Vehicles and Motorcycles

    Ambulances will digitally broadcast their out-of-my-way signal into cars ahead or even require them to automatically slow down and pull over. Motorcycles will get a digital assist, too. People often miss them in their rearview mirrors, but to automated cars they will be as visible as an 18-wheeler.

    F. Sticky Lanes

    New satellites will allow cars to pinpoint their position within an inch. That "lane-specific" level of accuracy can help cars "snap to" a digitally mapped lane like a slot car on a track when a driver daydreams or falls asleep, even on the snow-covered or poorly marked roads that confuse today's lane-departure cameras.

    Smart Intersections
    Illustration: Steve Karp

    G. Smart Intersections

    You'll never see the drunk driver that's about to run the red light. But a smart intersection could save your life. Twenty percent of all crash fatalities and 40 percent of accidents occur at intersections. Smart intersections will communicate with cars, beaming them visual and audio collision warnings, and even taking direct action to slow or stop vehicles and prevent offenders from running red lights entirely.

    Parking Lots that Talk
    Illustration: Steve Karp

    H. Parking Lots that Talk

    Many cars can already parallel-park with little or no human input. Tomorrow's networked cars and parking lots will tell each other when and where a spot opens up, saving drivers from wasting precious time and gas while circling the block. Drivers can beeline to open slots, or head to work and let the car park itself—and then call the car to come fetch them at day's end.


    0 0

    Crashed Car
    Cha già José via Flickr

    Someday your car will give you recommendations on where to eat, suggest more efficient routes between home and work, and even monitor your health. But for now it's just keeping tabs on your driving habits, recording your behavior in case it needs to be reconstructed after an accident.

    Federal officials are poised to announce next month that all cars must contain a black box, similar to that installed on airplanes, to give authorities a glimpse of your activities in the event of a car wreck. The devices could help pin down what happened in the moments before a crash, helping authorities determine who is at fault for what, and eliminating uncertainty from human witnesses.

    Many cars with airbags and other systems already use electronic data recorders, but there are no clear federal rules about how the data can or should be used, as Wired's Autopia blog points out. Some states allow automobile black box data to be used in court, but others do not. Automakers have different, proprietary data storage systems, and there is no clearly defined method to retrieve it.

    General Motors can find out plenty of information about your driving habits, as Autopia explains, like whether you used your turn signal and whether you buckled your seat belt. GM can use this information to build better safety systems, but it can conceivably be used by insurance companies, too, when determining how to pay claims or assign fault. Or it could be used by legal authorities to prove guilt or negligence.

    It's not a far leap to car black boxes that can figure out whether you were distracted by your cell phone, for instance, which could help attorneys prove liability in court cases. Combine that with iPhone tracking data and you could really have some privacy concerns.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expected to issue federal guidelines for how the data can and cannot be used, Autopia says.

    [Autopia]


    0 0

    Robo Sense
    If Mercedes's pedestrian-detecting Spotlight system detects an oncoming car, it will refrain from flashing its brights, lest it make things worse by blinding the driver of the oncoming car.

    The idea of a robot assuming control of your car takes some getting used to. But the race to build increasingly autonomous automotive safety systems is well under way, as the cost of cameras and sensors drops and engineers get better at programming those tools to work together.

    A big advance arrives this fall with the 2012 Mercedes-Benz CL-class. Its Spotlight safety system will link night-vision cameras with video-driven adaptive high beams to find people in the car's path and warn both driver and pedestrian. An onboard computer continuously scans images captured by the car's windshield mounted night-vision camera, looking for human shapes. If it finds one, the headlights point at the person and flash. Joerg Breuer, the manager for Active Safety Systems at Mercedes, says Spotlight detects pedestrians 1.3 seconds earlier than a driver can.

    Laser scanners will make sensor-driven safety systems more accurate still. Take BMW's Left Turn Assist, which the company revealed earlier this year but hasn't yet slated for production. Left Turn Assist uses a trio of laser scanners, along with a lane-detecting video camera and GPS, to make left turns—statistically one of the most dangerous maneuvers on the road—safer. When a computer senses that the driver is about to take a left, lasers scan a 200-degree field for hazards. If the system detects an imminent threat, and the car is moving slower than 6 mph, it will brake automatically. At higher speeds, it triggers audio and visual alarms. Laser scanners are still prohibitively expensive, says Dirk Wisselman, BMW's head of Advanced Safety Systems, but the cost is falling quickly.

    Wisselman sees Left Turn Assist as only a first step. The real change, he says, will come from car-to-car communication, in which vehicles can detect one another and share information about speed and trajectory. "This has tremendous implications for safety," Wisselman says. "And I think we'll see it in the next decade."


    0 0

    Crash in the UK
    jf01350 via Flickr

    Police in England will soon deploy 3-D laser scanners to the scene of car crashes, saving time and allowing wreckage to be cleared from roadways more quickly. The 3-D accident reconstruction will also be more accurate than human-generated reports.

    In the UK as in the US, a car wreck involving injuries or fatalities must be painstakingly recorded and preserved for insurance and court proceedings. Police investigators might block off the roadway for several hours as they take pictures of the scene and record measurements to log what happened. In the US, accident reconstruction is also big business, with experts retained by lawyers to discuss speeds, trajectories and impact physics.

    The laser scanner will capture a 360-degree image of a crash scene, the BBC reports. Mounted on a tripod, a laser scans the horizon and records up to 30 million separate data points, down to sub-millimeter resolution. Each sweep takes four minutes, and investigators will typically make four sweeps, the BBC says. The image can then be processed into a 3-D computer model, allowing investigators to see where the vehicles are located relative to each other, tire skid marks, and other evidence.

    In the US, some private accident reconstruction firms have also begun using laser scanners, but on a limited basis. Faro Technologies Inc., maker of several 3-D scanners, just last month held a webinar on how to use them for this purpose. It seems like such an obvious use for the technology, it's a wonder it is not already widespread.

    The UK Department of Transport provided $4.8 million (£3 million) to buy 20 of the scanners. For now, this particular system will only be available in England, BBC says.

    [BBC]


    0 0

    Human-Driven Driverless Car Crash
    The car blog Jalopnik received this photo of a Google driverless car prototype, identifiable by the roof equipment, that was apparently involved in a crash. Google says a human was driving it.
    Jalopnik

    Google's self-driving cars have apparently had their first fender-bender— and it was a person's fault, the company says.

    The car blog Jalopnik posted the above photo of one of Google's self-driving cars, which they identified by the rack on the roof that resembles a smaller version of the Street View setup. It appears to have rear-ended another Prius, to the obvious dismay of the people gathered around it.

    But shortly thereafter, Google gave this statement to Business Insider: "Safety is our top priority. One of our goals is to prevent fender-benders like this one, which occurred while a person was manually driving the car."

    So it wasn't the car's fault, apparently. Good news for those following the forthcoming wave of autonomous car technology.

    Google has been driving around a fleet of self-driving cars for several months now, and recently lobbied the state of Nevada to pass a bill requiring new regulations for the unmanned vehicles. While safety is clearly one of the biggest concerns, cases like this also raise questions about fault. Autonomous cars are supposed to improve safety by preventing human error, but what happens when someone — a manual operator or a programmer — makes a mistake? How do you cite a car with no driver?

    In this crash, at least, the apparent involvement of a live human person clears up any issues surrounding liability and fault — the driver can accept that, leaving the autonomous Prius blameless. Those questions will have to be answered before driverless cars take over our roadways.

    But this incident is yet another example — as if we need one — of the human capacity for error. Hopefully when cars do take over, they'll be able to prevent these types of incidents on their own.

    [Jalopnik]


    0 0

    Let It Burn
    Courtesy Dupont
    View Photo Gallery

    Failure is supposed to be a bad thing. In materials science, however, understanding and predicting how a new fiber, composite material, or type of plastic breaks, snaps, melts, fractures, or rips can mean the difference between life and death. Engineers need to know if an armored steel plate will stop a high-velocity bullet or whether a specialized car-seat foam will effectively absorb the impact of a crash.

    Destructive testing can also help scientists figure out how to enhance a given material's properties, as with composites for aircraft wings or polymers used in electronics. Across the U.S., dozens of labs concoct elaborate and sometimes genuinely perilous tests in the name of safety and knowledge. PopSci spoke with materials scientists, CEOs, and researchers to find four of the most extreme labs in the nation.

    Click here to enter the gallery


    0 0

    Volvo V40's Pedestrian Airbag
    Volvo

    Volvo, the Swedish carmaker known for its safety engineering (a Volvo engineer invented the modern 3-point seat belt), has turned their focus to keeping those outside the car safe too. Starting with their Volvo V40, they've introduced the first car airbag for pedestrians.

    First introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in March, the 2013 V40 has now gone on sale in Australia, though it likely won't be sold in the U.S.

    Though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that total traffic fatalities are decreasing, American pedestrian and cyclist fatalities have been on the upswing. Of the 32,367 traffic fatalities in 2012, 16 percent were not inside the car. Volvo is not the first automaker to try to design cars that are safer both inside and out.

    In response to European Union pedestrian safety laws passed in the early 2000s, Jaguar began making some of its international models with a Pedestrian Contact Sensing System. It launches open the car's hood if it senses pedestrian contact, hopefully softening the impact of a collision and preventing them from hitting their head on the engine below.

    In November 2012, TNO, a Dutch company, debuted an airbag prototype designed to cushion bikers at the International Cycling Safety Congress.

    Volvo's system combines this type of technology with an automatic Pedestrian Detection system that can apply the brakes if a driver doesn't respond in time to a person stepping in front of their car.

    Radar within the grille of the car detects the distance between an object in front of the car, while a camera in the rear-view window determines what the object is. The system is programmed to warn a driver with sound and a flashing light if a pedestrian is likely to step out in front of the car. If the driver doesn't respond and the system recognizes an imminent crash, it brakes the car automatically. It can also brake to prevent collisions with another vehicle.

    The auto-detection system is designed for urban areas, and can stop a car at speeds up to about 21 miles per hour, or can slow it down at higher speeds. If it can't prevent a crash, it deploys a pedestrian airbag outside the car. The pedestrian airbag system is active between speeds of 20 to 50 km per hour, or about 12 to 30 per hour -- the speeds at which most pedestrian accidents occur.

    Before the airbag deploys, seven sensors on the front of the car determine if a human leg comes into contact with the bumper. An airbag raises the hood of the car 10 cm and extends to cover part of the windshield, deploying in less than a second. The extra space between the hood and the engine compartment allows the hood to dent and cushions the pedestrian's impact.

    [Inhabitat]


    0 0

    A motorcycle accident can damage your brain in two ways: from the direct blow when your head hits the road, and then from the way your head turns, spinning violently and…

    0 0

    PopSci looks at eight technologies that will make future automotive adventures free of traffic jams, fender benders and fruitless hunts for parking spaces.

    0 0

    The idea of a robot assuming control of your car takes some getting used to. But the race to build increasingly autonomous automotive safety systems is well under way, as the…

    0 0

    Police in England will soon deploy 3-D laser scanners to the scene of car crashes, saving time and allowing wreckage to be cleared from roadways more quickly. The 3-D…

(Page 1) | 2 | newer