Seven year ago (seven?!) when I started writing this blog, I would have never believed that a chart like this would be possible:
For 25 straight months, the state’s oil production rate has increased by more than 25 percent year-over-year, notes economist Mark J. Perry, a professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Management.
“Output in America’s No. 1 oil-producing state — Texas — continues its phenomenal, meteoric rise,” Perry wrote on his Carpe Diem blog. “That production surge has to be one of the most significant increases in oil output ever recorded in the U.S. over such a short period of time.”
It’s hard to say if this output can be sustained for any amount of time, or if it’s a last gasp effort to recover the oil left on the table to profit from the current high price per barrel. This oil renaissance has been happening around us for a few years now, and frankly, I never understood how big it was until today, when I saw this graph. I haven’t been writing about fuel for a while, instead concentrating on driver related safety, but this has my attention again in an unexpected way.
What do you think – is this an “oil bubble”? (Related: Is the word “bubble” being used too often to describe just about everything? Are we just living in a “bubble”, and didn’t know it?)
Ford unveiled it’s new crossover, which will be available in 100 markets – but not the US.
Autoblog — Ford has unveiled the production version of its EcoSport crossover at the 2012 Beijing Motor Show. The small five-door utility should offer buyers plenty of functionality in a compact and efficient package thanks to a range of drivetrain configurations including a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder Ecoboost engine. The small-displacement engine is good for 118 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque, which should be more than enough to move the little machine around. All told, Ford says the EcoSport will see duty in over 100 world markets, though the CUV isn’t expected to show up in our neck of the woods.
Here are all the PR details:
An SUV for the Urban World – Ford Reveals Fuel-Efficient, All-new Ford EcoSport in China
Created for the urban environment, the all-new Ford EcoSport offers contemporary design, smart technologies and a high driving position – all in a compact, agile, fuel-efficient shape
Powered by an array of powertrains, including an all-new 1.0-litre, three-cylinder EcoBoost™ engine, the aerodynamically honed Ford EcoSport is designed to be a benchmark in fuel economy while giving customers the performance feel of a larger engine
Packed with aspirational appeal, craftsmanship and sophistication – including the Ford SYNC driver connect system with voice control – the all-new EcoSport offers a compelling alternative to the small car in big cities
BEIJING, April 22, 2012 – Ford today revealed the production version of the all-new Ford EcoSport and announced plans to build the compact, fuel-efficient urban SUV in China, in addition to India, Thailand and South America.
EcoSport’s global debut at the 2012 Auto China in Beijing means customers in China will soon be able to choose an aspirational sports utility vehicle alternative to a small car. The Ford EcoSport offers a confident stance, a high driving position and robust character on top of the agility, manoeuvrability and fuel efficiency that comes with a compact footprint. It’s the perfect combination for the city – ready for work and ready for play.
Within a contemporary design aerodynamically honed for fuel economy, the EcoSport is full of smart technologies, features and craftsmanship that offer customers more than they would expect in this segment.
With a number of powertrain solutions, including Ford’s newest, most advanced engine the 1.0-litre EcoBoost™, EcoSport is designed to be a benchmark in fuel efficiency. It also offers the Ford SYNC driver connect system with voice control and many other innovative features in a spacious and comfortable interior with new levels of craftsmanship as well as outstanding quietness and refinement.
“The Ford EcoSport reflects our commitment to serve our Ford customers in China and around the world with the cars, utilities and trucks they want and value,” said Joe Hinrichs, president, Ford Asia Pacific and Africa. “EcoSport delivers outstanding quality, great fuel efficiency with the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine, superior safety and really smart design with SYNC.”
The production reveal of EcoSport follows rapidly after the vehicle’s global preview in January at the Delhi Auto Expo as well as in Brazil, where Ford EcoSport was developed by a global Ford development team. In addition to production in Chongqing, the EcoSport will be manufactured in Camaçari, Brazil, Rayong, Thailand, and Chennai, India, and will be offered in nearly 100 markets globally.
EcoSport joins Ford’s family of small global vehicles, which will reach an annual production capacity of 2 million units by 2015.
“The all-new EcoSport is designed and engineered specifically for customers in global growth markets using Ford’s global SUV engineering expertise and reflecting our commitments for quality, leading fuel economy, safety and smart technology,” said Raj Nair, group vice president, Global Product Development. “We’re delivering innovative products like this to drive our global growth.”
Ford is showcasing its top-of-the-line model, the EcoSport Titanium, on stage in Beijing, painted in distinctive Mars Red. A similar model is being revealed today in Salvador, Brazil, as EcoSport’s global launch momentum builds.
EcoSport Titanium has 16-inch aluminium alloy wheels and a chrome grille.
Inside, EcoSport offers a stylish, modern and well-equipped interior delivering new standards of craftsmanship and quality. The cabin – spacious for five people and their gear – has been engineered to deliver outstanding levels of comfort and quiet operation for customers.
In addition to Ford SYNC with voice control, among EcoSport’s available innovative technologies are Smart Keyless Entry, Ford Power Start, and a cooled bin in the glovebox.
EcoSport offers advanced safety items, such as dual front airbags and side curtain airbags, as well as Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) and Electronic Stability Program.
To take the stress out of driving, the EcoSport comes with an array of driver-assist features including Hill Launch Assist and rear parking sensors.
Its agile, manoeuvrable chassis features electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) for outstanding steering response and improved fuel efficiency.
Beautiful, agile, modern
The new EcoSport is an affordable compact SUV that is ready for work and ready for play.
It targets benchmark performance in fuel economy, driveability and performance to redefine expectations in the compact SUV segment.
The new Ford SUV’s main characteristics were defined by consumers in all of the regions in which it will be sold. The design and flexible use are part of the new vehicle’s differentiated plan, which besides the agility and practicality for urban use, offers power and robustness for more adverse terrain.
The elevated stance and purposeful posture give the new EcoSport the appearance of a higher class vehicle. Its agile and contemporary lines convey confidence, refinement and an adventurous spirit, within a modern and smart package. All this contributes to EcoSport’s aspirational appeal.
“The new EcoSport is full of personality,” said J Mays, group vice president, Design, and chief creative officer, Ford Motor Company. “Customers around the world immediately recognise its capability and SUV robustness that is achieved with aggressiveness. It is friendly and it’s a vehicle that really makes you smile.”
Powering growth in China
Reinforcing Ford’s commitment to offer a full portfolio of vehicles in China, the all-new Ford EcoSport will be the second of 15 new vehicles that Ford plans to introduce in the country by 2015. This is part of a bigger plan to bring more than 50 new vehicles and powertrains to the Asia Pacific and Africa region by mid-decade, underscoring the unprecedented expansion in the region.
“With its superior fuel efficiency and a comprehensive suite of smart technologies, the EcoSport is well-placed to power Ford into a new segment not only in China but also in other growth markets in Asia,” said Hinrichs.
Ford’s aggressive expansion plan in China is being supported by several new investments to increase production capacity.
It was announced earlier this month that Ford and its joint venture Changan Ford Mazda Automobile (CFMA) will invest approximately USD 600 million to expand capacity in Chongqing by 350,000 passenger vehicles, raising total capacity in China to 950,000 units by 2014. The new investment will increase Ford’s total investment in China to approximately USD 4.1 billion.
CFMA already operates two assembly plants and an engine plant in Chongqing. Additional facilities – a USD 500 million engine plant and a USD 350 million transmission plant – are currently under construction.
Download the new eco-driving infographic from the eco-driving experts at Ford.
We’re very happy today to get referenced in a Yahoo Finance post about the winners and losers in the run up on gas prices:
The efficiency complex. When push comes to shove, Americans are really good at figuring out how to do more with less, and how to get more for their money — and then turning those ideas into businesses. When oil soars, websites such as Gasbuddy.com, which points users to cheap gas in the area, experience a surge in traffic. And firms like Propelit, whose software enables trucking fleet managers to monitor the driving habits of employees (and provide incentives for them to drive more efficiently), or FuelClinic.com, which coaches consumers on ways to drive more efficiently, find that their sales pitches go over much better.
We are in the “winners” camp, apparently members of the “efficiency complex”… I’m not sure I renewed membership this year, what with the fuel prices driving up my transportation costs and all.
None the less, very happy to be of service, coaching consumers on ways to drive more efficiently.
What to expect over the next few months… rising food prices that will lag behind fuel prices by a month or two, as most of our food is transported more than 1,500 miles from farm to your local market. Super-commuters will be hit hard, as just getting to work will become more and more expensive.
Will we hit $6.00 per gallon as some predict… what do you think?
From Automotive Fleet:
WASHINGTON – Ford announced it plans to more than triple its production levels of vehicles equipped with its EcoBoost engines. In addition, the company is expanding the number of vehicle models available with EcoBoost engines, from seven in 2011 to a total of 11 in 2012. The automaker added that by the end of 2012, nine Ford models will get an EPA-certified 40 mpg highway…
Source: Automotive Fleet
Overall, gasoline demand was reported at a little more than 8 million barrels per day, which AAA said is a 400,000-barrel-per-day year-over-year decline and at the lowest level since 2003, according to a recent U.S. Department of Energy report.
Despite ample supply and low demand for gasoline, though, the national average for gas prices is still up 10 cents over the previous week, with impending refinery shutdowns and high crude oil prices pushing prices up, according to AAA. The national retail average price for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline was $3.38 on Jan. 17, a penny more expensive than one week ago, 15 cents more expensive than one month ago, and 28 cents more expensive than a year ago.
Green isn’t just for camouflage any more. The US military recognizes the need to become more efficient, less dependent, and more sustainable.
From a green economy perspective, this legislation could not be more important. The military’s huge demand for energy translates into enormous market pull. By creating a market for biofuels and green technology, the military can spur further research and drive down the price of clean energy to levels that would be competitive with traditional energy sources. According to analysis presented at a congressional briefing on the Defense Department’s Deployment of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, section 526 sends positive signals to the green energy sector by reassuring clean energy producers that their investments will be met with steady demand from the DoD. Such stability is critical for any burgeoning industry.
Read the rest at the Epoch Times.
All signs are pointing to a continued run on fuel costs here in the US, with many experts predicting $5.00+ per gallon prices common by mid-summer. This is despite a continuing slump in crude oil demand here in the US – now at a 12-year low. This paradox between low demand and high prices has many wondering what’s really happening in the market, and where will it go from here.
Some industry advisors blame commodity speculators for the gouging at the pump, while others say a booming Chinese market and weakening dollar are to blame for near-record pump prices. Still others claim it’s the work of the Obama Administration to raise energy costs in order to make alternative sources of energy competitive in price. (After all he did promise to do just that during his campaign.)
Regardless of the cause, the reality to commuters and business owners is a painful reminder of the summer of 2008 when rocketing energy prices caused a wide ripple effect on prices in nearly every sector of the economy. Many businesses were in a panic about paying surging fuel costs while keeping prices low and people employed. Consumers felt it everywhere, but especially at the pump with painful total sale costs per tank of gas.
So what will $5 per gallon gasoline mean to you?
Will you choose to car-pool, buy a more efficient car, walk or bike to work (where possible), take fewer trips, buy gasoline on discount-days, adopt eco-driving habits, or cut-back in other areas of spending to afford your normal driving habits?
Volvo Proving Ground, Gothenburg, Sweden — …The vehicle platooning system is a convoy of vehicles, where a professional driver in a lead vehicle drives a line of other vehicles. Each car measures the distance, speed and direction and adjusts to the car in front. All vehicles are totally detached and can leave the procession at any time. Once in the platoon, drivers can relax and do other things while the platoon proceeds towards its destination.
Platooning is designed to improve a number of aspects, such as: road safety, as it rules out the human factor that is the cause of at least 80% of road accidents; fuel consumption and thus CO2 emissions are saved by up to 20%; convenience for drivers, because it frees up time for other matters; and traffic congestion, as the vehicles will travel at highway speed with a gap of only a few meters between them. The tests carried out included a lead vehicle and single following car. The steering wheel of the following car moves by itself, as the vehicle smoothly follows the lead truck around the country road test track. The driver is able to drink coffee or read a paper, using neither hand nor foot to operate his vehicle. The technology development is well under way and is likely go into production in a few years time. What may take substantially longer is public acceptance of the system and the legislation where 25 EU governments must all pass similar laws…
[Hat Tip: Eddie Wren – International Road Safety – LinkedIn Group]
In an effort to save energy and money, the State Highway Administration has cut back its overhead lighting on a six-mile stretch of the highway. If results from the year-long test are favorable, officials say, the state could reduce lighting on other highways…
…The experiment has raised concerns about safety in some quarters. For many motorists, a well-lit roadway is comforting, and many studies over the decades have shown that bright lights — in the right places — can save lives.
Highway officials said that even with fewer lights, the illumination of Route 100 will remain well within federal standards. But AAA Mid-Atlantic still has concerns about the test.
“With the nation’s motorists aging rapidly, we need to keep in mind they tend to have more difficulty seeing to drive safely at night. We worry that deactivating highway lighting could curtail motorists’ safety,” said AAA spokeswoman Christine Delise.
Bob Stanton is one of the most forward-thinking fleet managers in the country. He runs the Polk County, Florida government fleet, and has been referenced here in Fuelishness! and BrightFleet.com several times for his experience implementing a highly successful eco-driving program in Polk County. Today he gives a insight into his motivations and successful execution of his program in an article published at Government Fleets called “Incentivizing Drivers to Conserve Fuel“.
By only reading industry publications, one might presume fuel conservation success can be achieved by technology alone through the use of alternative fuels, hybrid, or all-electric vehicles. The Clean Air Act of 1990 certainly steered governments in that direction and now, 20 years later, it’s clear that legislation failed to achieve tangible results. Governments at all levels nationwide have collectively invested billions in technology, which at best has yielded marginal fuel conservation success, and at worst, the technology, hardware, and vehicles have been scrapped at enormous cost. A negative return on investment (ROI) is certainly hard to justify for any organization, public or private.
Mr. Stanton makes a great point, that the focus on a technology-based approach to fuel efficient fleets has nearly completely ignored the contributions of the vehicle operator to the safe and efficient use of the vehicle.
…In summer 2008, Polk County went where few other fleets have gone — to its drivers. All studies show the largest single contributor to fuel use and/or conservation is the driver. Polk County decided the quickest route to meaningful fuel conservation was to target driver behavior and modify it where possible.
A three-pronged approach was used to modify driver behavior. First, the maximum travel speed of the County’s on-highway vehicles was limited to 55 mph. An in-house Eco-Driver training program was developed to train, reinforce, and promote driving habits proven to reduce fuel consumption and assure driver buy-in, and the County added an incentive program to allow employees to share monetarily in their own conservation success.
There are numerous studies, from reputable government and industry sources around the word, that have shown a direct relationship to operator performance and fuel efficiency, with additional benefit to driver & general road safety.
As noted above, the driver is the greatest single factor influencing fuel economy. According to Bridgestone’s Real Answers magazine, up to 35 percent of a vehicle’s mpg is directly attributable to the driver.
The County endeavored to modify behind-the-wheel driver behavior by developing an in-house “Eco Driver” training program to educate drivers about the simple driving techniques that result in tangible mpg improvements.
Bob Stanton’s own project has netted Polk County significant benefits in fuel efficiency and accident reductions:
Over the two years since implementation, Polk County achieved the following results:
- Fuel consumption reduced by 13.4 percent, or 436,000 gallons.
- Reduced 6.2 million lbs. of carbon.
- Reduced preventable accidents by 22 percent.
- Crash damage severity reduced by 35 percent.
These results are irrefutable. The overall hard dollar savings seen by Polk County due to these incentives have exceeded $1.5 million. The cost of the program is minimal. Beyond the $800 decal cost and the one-hour training time, the program has cost the County nothing.
Even the incentive payouts came at little cost. The incentive payouts originated from dollars saved versus dollars spent.
As a result of its success, the Polk County School Board adopted the 55-mph restriction in May 2010 and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is currently studying the program for statewide adoption.
As oil prices continue to rise to pre-economic-collapse prices at the same time austerity measures are being discussed at state and federal levels, eco-driving is a proven method that fleet drivers and average motorists can take immediate action to see real reductions in both fuel consumption and accident rates.
Last month Fiat Motors released the results of their eco:Drive system study of 9 million journeys by 42,000 European drivers. I’ve spent the last few days reading and re-reading it, and it’s so good that I’m going to post sections of it in an on-going series here at Fuelishness!
If you’d like to download and read the whole report (and you should if you are at all interested in driver behavior modification), you can find it at the Fiat website for download.
Look for Part One shortly.
Back to back bad news about fuel prices in the New Year.
It’s “certainly possible” that the price of a barrel of oil will push above $100 a barrel, Daryl Guppy, CEO of Guppytraders.com, told CNBC Thursday. “Once you move above $100, then $110 is just clear freeway straight to that level,” Guppy added.
The former president of Shell Oil, John Hofmeister, says Americans could be paying $5 for a gallon of gasoline by 2012.
In an interview with Platt’s Energy Week television, Hofmeister predicted gasoline prices will spike as the global demand for oil increases.
“I’m predicting actually the worst outcome over the next two years which takes us to 2012 with higher gasoline prices,” he said.
Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst with Oil Price Information Service says Americans will see gasoline prices hit the $5 a gallon mark in the next decade, but not by 2012.
“That wolf is out there and it’s going to be at the door…I agree with him that we’ll see those numbers at some point this decade but not yet.” Kloza said.
Gasoline prices have been steadily rising. Last week, gas prices crossed the $3 mark for the first time since October 2008. According to AAA figures, prices are up 4% from a month ago and 16% from the $2.585 average a year ago.
A five-month ‘eco-driving’ trial involving 5,700 drivers achieved an average fuel saving of 6%, Fiat reported in November.
The most improved tenth of drivers in the trial, covering five EU nations including the UK, reduced fuel use by 16% on average.
Drivers were given a USB ‘memory stick’ which plugged into cars to record data on acceleration, gear changes, average speed and deceleration. Data was then analysed by Fiat’s ecoDrive software on home computers and tailored advice given on how to improve driving to cut fuel consumption and emissions.
The UK’s Committee on Climate Change and the now-abolished Commission for Integrated Transport have advocated eco-driving as one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce transport CO2 emissions.
Our own eco-driving results are not too far off – with an average 5.03% improvement from our 3,500+ members of FuelClinic.com, as measured over the last two years.
Motorists who also use the FuelClinic-Configured Car-Chip as an in-vehicle eco-driving coach see even better results. When properly configured to warn drivers of inefficient driving like excessive acceleration, inefficient top-speed, and aggressive driving, the device provides important immediate reminders about driving behavior to drivers.
Immediate in-car feedback is important to maximize returns on eco-driving training and programs, but must be done in a manner that is not distracting to the driver. Simple audible feedback is the form of “warning beeps” reminds the driver that their current action is “missing the mark” set for their eco-driving goals.
The full FIAT Eco:Drive Report is available for download. It is an excellent study, and I have been studying it for a few days now. I will add it to our “Research Library” shortly. In the mean time, you can download it from FIAT.
Washington DC – Dec. 13th, 2010 – Compendium Software Systems, LLC announced today the release of BrightFleet.com™ http://www.brightfleet.com, marking a change in branding for all products previously available under the FuelClinic Fleet™ Systems brand.
BrightFleet’s™ mission is to provide a globally-available risk identification and mitigation system, all in one easily administered and affordable solution available immediately for fleets of any size and type.
“Our state-of-the-art Hazard Perception Evaluation application is a predictive behavior analysis tool designed to identify a fleet’s high risk drivers based on their ability to identify dangerous situations that happen every day on our roadways”, said Michael Bragg of Compendium Software Systems, the company behind the BrightFleet™ brand.
While BrightFleet™ will focus solely on providing advanced technologies to fleet operators on a global scale, FuelClinic™ http://www.fuelclinic.com will continue to focus on providing motorists fuel efficiency improving eco-driving advice, techniques, and progress-tracking software.
“We love the FuelClinic community, and plan to continue to increase the level of service we provide to the eco-drivers there”, said Bragg. “We also relize that the fleet risk management and mitigation products we offer are a more natural fit under the new BrightFleet™ brand.”
To learn more about BrightFleet™, visit the website at http://www.brightfleet.com
Source: BBC News
Italian carmaker Fiat has been compiling data from the Blue&Me navigation systems installed on many of its cars over a six-month period.
It may be the largest such data harvest done by a major carmaker.
“We can extract a number of data – on how the pedals are used, petrol consumption, braking,” says Candido Peterlini, vice-president for product development at Fiat.
It developed eco:Drive from the data collected from 420,000 car journeys of 5,700 drivers in five countries.
Cars with this function allow the driver to download data about their journeys to a USB stick, which they can plug into their home computer.
It will tell them how to improve their driving – for example, by changing gears less.
Mr Peterlini says the plan is to make this response instant soon, via the on-board computer – so that a driver gets told how to improve their driving while they are cruising through town – and then integrate it into live traffic maps.
“The plan is to tell you the most eco way to drive, by changing your behaviour, taking in traffic conditions and the structure of the road” such as how steep it is, Mr Peterlini says.
Fuelishness Feed! Nissan’s ECO Pedal; Fuel Prices Unlikely to Fall; And the Stingiest Car Is…; Just 99 MPG?; Green Truck Summit
It’s been a while since we’ve had a Fuelishness! Feed. What a better day than Thanksgiving to gorge on some eco-driving news:
- Nissan Licenses ECO Pedal Technology — “When the ECO Pedal system is on, each time the driver exerts excess pressure on the acceleration pedal, the system counteracts in advance with a pedal push-back control mechanism (tactile indicator) to support drivers for more effective, fuel-efficient driving. Studies show that effective eco-driving behavior with ECO Pedal drive assist contributes to improve fuel efficiency from 5 to 10% (based on internal measurement) in many driving conditions,” Nissan informs.
- Fuel Prices Unlikely to Fall Anytime Soon, says AA — “In the short-term, fuel prices will inflict more pain on drivers and business,” says Luke Bosdet, a fuel expert at the AA. “It may well be an ordeal we have to endure before a recovered economy restores a less volatile fuel market, though commodity speculation continues to cast a shadow.”
- And The Stingiest Car Is … — The Volkswagen Golf Blue-E-Motion. The plucky little electric car, with 115 bhp, a top speed of 86mph and 0-62mph time of 11.8 seconds won the race. “It’s a testimony to the abilities of the Golf Blue-E-Motion that it won despite the fact I’d never competed in any sort of eco-driving challenge before,” said Jim Holder, driver of the winning car.
- Just 99 mpg: Isn’t it Time to Focus on More Than Plug-ins? — Significant and cost-effective improvements in fuel economy were also suggested and supported very recently at the LA Auto Show by several automakers, particularly Hyundai which is forecasting industry-leading plans for improving fleet fuel economy without increasing vehicle costs. Similarly, the X-Prize also demonstrated that 100 mpg is achievable without the need for either hybrid or plug-in technologies.
- Green Truck Summit 2011 Offers Glimpse into Future — “Our industry is in a very exciting period of evolution,” says Doyle Sumrall, NTEA senior director of business development. “As innovative manufacturers continue to develop new green technology, fleets and the businesses who support them must understand how and when to use that technology to improve their operations and environmental impact. The Green Truck Summit is a unique gathering of technical experts, thought leaders and peers who all share their knowledge to provide solutions for today’s issues, as well as guidance into the future.”
A nice surprise in my morning Google Alerts on Friday, as FuelClinic is included in an article about 5 Veteran-Owned green businesses at Ecopreneurist.
Veteran’s Day usually involves lots of flag-waving, parades, and expressions of gratitude for military service… all well-deserved by those who dedicate a portion of their lives to the armed forces. We tend to focus on the concepts of national security and defense in these celebrations… but, equally as important, is the spirit of serving the greater good that these men and women often carry with them after separating from active duty…
Even more for you Google Robot Car fans…
The Google blog post says that its autopilot vehicles have logged more than 140,000 miles to date, which presumably means the project has been going on for quite a while. It sounds cool, but I’m unclear why it’s apparently been secret until now, or why Schmidt spoke so cryptically and so recently of laws restricting the roads to self-driving cars without mentioning that Google was building them.
Google isn’t the only outfit working on this idea–a few months ago, I went for a very brief ride in a self-driving, self-parking Volkswagen developed at Stanford University. And the basic idea has been fodder for magazines such as Popular Mechanics and Popular Sciencefor decades. Herewith, a few examples from the past seventy-seven years ago–none of which seem to have gotten as far as Google’s experiments.
Here’s a video peak at some of the hardware and software systems at work inside the Google Prius that has been driving itself around San Fransisco traffic over the past few months.
From: The Spec
Robot drivers react faster than humans, have 360-degree perception and do not get distracted, sleepy or intoxicated, the engineers argue. They speak in terms of lives saved and injuries avoided — more than 37,000 people died in car accidents in the United States in 2008. The engineers say the technology could double the capacity of roads by allowing cars to drive more safely while closer together. Because the robot cars would eventually be less likely to crash, they could be built lighter, reducing fuel consumption. But of course, to be truly safer, the cars must be far more reliable than, say, today’s personal computers, which crash on occasion and are frequently infected.
The Google research program using artificial intelligence to revolutionize the automobile is proof that the company’s ambitions reach beyond the search engine business. The program is also a departure from the mainstream of innovation in Silicon Valley, which has veered toward social networks and Hollywood-style digital media.
During a half-hour drive beginning on Google’s campus 35 miles south of San Francisco last Wednesday, a Prius equipped with a variety of sensors and following a route programmed into the GPS navigation system nimbly accelerated in the entrance lane and merged into fast-moving traffic on Highway 101, the freeway through Silicon Valley.
It drove at the speed limit, which it knew because the limit for every road is included in its database, and left the freeway several exits later. The device atop the car produced a detailed map of the environment.
The car then drove in city traffic through Mountain View, stopping for lights and stop signs, as well as making announcements like “approaching a crosswalk” (to warn the human at the wheel) or “turn ahead” in a pleasant female voice. This same pleasant voice would, engineers said, alert the driver if a master control system detected anything amiss with the various sensors.
The car can be programmed for different driving personalities — from cautious, in which it is more likely to yield to another car, to aggressive, where it is more likely to go first.
From The Daily Telegraph:
A sexy new 205mph Jaguar supercar that blends sporting looks and performance with the latest ‘green’ technology is set to rock the prestigious Paris Motor Show when it is officially unveiled today.
The new two-seater Jaguar C-X75 is a £200,000 electric hybrid vehicle uses hi-tech jet-turbine know-how from the aviation industry to sprint from rest to 62 mph in just 3.5 seconds and up to 100mph in just 5.5 seconds…
The new Jaguar dispenses with a conventional internal combustion engine.
Instead, powered by a lithium ion battery charged from the domestic mains, the new Jaguar can run with zero-emissions for up to 68 miles on four electric motors – one of which drives each of four wheels.
Then it can harness two rear-mounted super-efficient gas-turbines to generate the extra electric power it needs to give it an extended range of 560miles – enough to get it from London to Berlin on a single 60 litre tank-full.
And that is with minimal emissions of just 28g/km of carbon dioxide – the greenhouse gas blamed for global warning and against which all UK cars are now taxed…
Sanford, FL – The FuelClinic Fleet System (http://fleet.fuelclinic.com) pilot program with the City of Sanford, FL has completed it’s first phase, with the collection of driver behavior data from a selection of vehicles from the City’s fleet. The data-logging devices will be returned for analysis and processing using the driver behavior analysis software under development at Compendium Software Systems, LLC.
“The collection part of the first phase is done, and the data collected by the devices will be uploaded to our servers for processing. Based on what we find using our driver behavior analysis software, we’ll make recommendations to the City on ways it can cut it’s yearly fuel usage, helping the City to reduce expenses.” said Michael Bragg of Compendium.
The pilot program is being used to allow the City to evaluate the driver behavior monitoring system, and look for ways to save the City money by cutting it’s fuel usage and reducing risk. The system works by collecting data from the vehicles on-board diagnostic computer, providing the fleet manager a real-world look into how their fleet vehicles are being driven. In this first generation system, the devices are removed from the vehicle and the data is uploaded to a central processing server using a standard USB cable and a bit of software that handles the communications.
Once the data is uploaded, the processing of weeks worth of real world driver behavior data begins. The hub of this system is software that accepts driving data from a variety of devices and sources. It parses the data into a standardized format, and begins to look for trends that indicate inefficient or risky driver behavior. It then compiles reports to allow fleet managers to quickly identify problems within their fleet.
Compendium’s recent channel-partnership with Alert Driving provides clients with access to top-tier online training modules to help mitigate problems with driver behavior or fuel efficiency using proven training tools that are targeted, easy to administer, and affordable.
“Our whole goal is to make fleets of any size safer and more efficient, providing a substantial ROI to clients by getting more out of every gallon of fuel they purchase while at the same time helping reduce accidents and related costs” said Bragg. “We are cherry-picking the best practices and technologies already used in major fleets, and re-packaging them into right-sized systems that any business can afford.”