All those live car chases we see on television may be coming to
an end. A company called Engineered Arresting Systems
Corporation that specializes in pop-up safety nets for all
sorts of vehicles (cars, trucks, planes, UAV’s) has now developed a car catcher that can
safely stop cars moving at speeds up to 50 mph. Check out the
I can easily see such devices built into LA highways, perhaps at
narrow on- and off-ramps, or used sporadically at strategic
locations all across the town. They would also work great as a
non-lethal form of ambush in war zones – although shooting out or
puncturing tires is probably a more effective way to go.
Combined with increasingly popular automobile kill switches that can
remotely disconnect an engine from its fuel supply, devices like
these nets have the potential to make the roads quite a bit safer,
as well as to deter a good amount of auto theft.
Of course, one possible counter to that is to simply train
robots to steal cars instead, or simply hack the car systems.
Check out this fully functional new co-axial helicopter set to
go into production sometime in 2009 or 2010. The manufacturer,
Wieland Helicopter Technologies, says it plans to build versions
that seat 1-5 passengers as well as a UAV
which I’m sure the U.S. government will load up with machine guns
and send into battle.
In the sci-fi movie Minority Report cars drive themselves while
maneuvering through traffic on roads and in the sky. Though the
film represents a more distant future, safe and affordable
driverless cars could be on roads everywhere by 2020, and
self-driving/flying air-cars by 2030.
Scientists are now developing next generation driverless cars
that understand and react to the world around them. These “smart”
vehicles have been tested in recent competitions sponsored by the
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Competing cars were not only driven entirely by computers, but
they operated in a simulated city environment. Stanford
University’s Dr. Sebastian Thrun explains the DARPA challenge; “Driverless cars successfully
maneuvered through busy streets and intersections. They recognized
other cars, and interacted safely when they met – all without human
“Today’s driverless cars can go about 100 miles before human
assistance becomes necessary,” Thrun says, “by 2010 this will
increase to 1,000 miles, by 2020 a million miles; and by the 2030s,
driverless cars will surpass human drivers in both safety and
Driverless vehicles promise huge benefits. The Department of
Transportation projects 500 million cars worldwide by 2010 with
unbearable congestion everywhere. Self-driving cars always maintain
proper distances at maximum speeds; and this optimizes road
capacity. By 2020, we’ll say goodbye to gridlock, road rage, and
most traffic deaths.
Check out this awesome new airbag-suit by motorcycle gear
Dainese is set to release the suit by 2010 – a full 10 years
after development of the system began.
Just imagine the implications of such a suit for all types of
extreme sports – skiing, mountain-biking, hang-gliding – and what
such a suit might look like by 2015. I can imagine people
surrounded by giant marshmallows or beach balls engaging in all
sorts of activities that were previously too risky.
NYC Mayor Michael
Bloomberg, who last week proudly announced that
his city has agreed to host the first leg of the 2009 competition,
is a big fan of the impact the event could have on the way we
approach the future.
“We really do need some new thinking, we need some innovation,”
urged Bloomberg, “We’ve got to get people to participate, and to
change their lives and to understand that we’ve have to use less
energy and that we have to find alternative energy sources that
aren’t destroying our planet.”
Check out Bloomberg and XPrize CEO
Peter Diamandis in action at Thursday’s XPrize Announcement press
conference, just released to the web a few hours ago:
“I don’t think there’s any bigger threat to our world and out
country than global warming and our dependency on oil,” added the
Peter Diamandis, Chairman & CEO,
XPrize Foundation, echoed Bloomberg’s sentiments, stating, “It’s a
challenge to every one of us. We face these issues together. We
must solve them together.”
reports that beleaguered auto manufacturer Chrysler LLC will begin offering wifi aboard their
vehicles later this year. As the first major auto producer to
provide internet access, this will give the company a big brand and
gadgetry edge, though its vehicles will no doubt continue to lag
in mileage and quality construction.
The feature will be added to existing vehicles by dealers
beginning this year and later be installed on the assembly line,
Frank Klegon, Executive Vice President—Product Development, said.
The Wi-Fi port, initially to be sold as a separate device, will
eventually be built into the vehicle’s radio system and coordinated
with other audio and video technologies to allow such things as
transferring music files from the user’s home computer.
Users will need a subscription to a wireless carrier in order to
connect to the internet, which will likely limit access to areas
within range of cell towers. Nevertheless, it marks a fresh start
for a desperate company sorely in need of compelling consumer
offerings, allowing a variety of applications, such as basic
navigation systems and music downloads, and eventually a much
broader suite of networked add-ons.
Somewhat surprisingly, it appears that the future of auto-web
connectivity will first be championed by an American
Check out this awesome car/pod prototype that carries up to
three passengers and can pivot on a dime to change directions. I
recall seeing concept drawings of this and thought it was still a
year or two in the future, so I was surprised to come across this
video of a functional, albeit slow, version of the product.
For the life of me, I can’t recall which company is behind this
elegant weird new car. Does anyone know who’s producing this
totally new approach to transport and when I’ll be able to rent one
As the human population grows, people are either forced to live
further and further from the workplace, or to pay a handsome price
for the luxury of location. The resulting sprawl has had a
devastating effect on the landscape and eco-systems. Pollution
associated with requisite transportation is destroying the
environment. Rising energy costs are driving up the cost of living.
Longer commutes lessen the hours in a day we can allocate to
productivity or leisure.
How can we create cities and towns that can accommodate a
community’s economic needs, while improving the general quality of
life? This is a question that urban planners, like Michael E. Arth,
must ask and answer to the best of their abilities when designing
or retrofitting cities to best suit our changing lifestyles.
We spoke with Arth, founder of the urban planning theory of
Pedestrianism, about what the city of the future might look
like. His theory, a spinoff of New Urbanism,
addresses the social and environmental problems associated with
suburban sprawl by creating an urban design plan that places
sustainability, beauty, and functionality at its forefront.
“New Pedestrianism is an urban design movement that is a more
ecological and pedestrian-oriented branch of New Urbanism. New
Urbanism revives and expands upon the old urbanism that was common
before WWII, while New Pedestrianism is a
reiteration of experiments with more pedestrian-oriented towns and
neighborhoods that have been tried over the years,” explained Arth,
“In new and old urbanism you have streets in front and an alley in
the rear. With New Pedestrianism the alley is replaced with an
attractive tree lined street and the street in front is replaced
with a car free pedestrian/bike lane. A mixed-use village or
neighborhood center is within walking distance with higher density
toward the center. Aesthetics and quality of life are very
Tired of those boring, cramped 4-hour flights? Wish you could be
more productive or at least distracted? You’ll be glad to know that
the in-flight internet connections that have been hyped over the
past year are finally on the verge of reality.
Several companies are locked in a race to be first to offer
the service with airlines. In a matter of months, we’ll be able to
surf the web from land or sky.
Avionics is on the verge of penning a deal with a
yet-to-be-disclosed airline to offer wireless service via
satellite. Their rates are a bit steep at $5.95 per half-hour of
access, but because they connect to satellites instead of towers on
the ground, internet would be available during trips across the