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  • A DC-10 Passenger Plane Is Perfect At Fighting Wildfires

    Daniel_Stuckey writes: Friday night in Southern California's Silverado Valley, relief flew in on an old airliner. In this summer of drought and fire, the DC-10, an airplane phased out of passenger service in February, has been spotted from Idaho to Arizona delivering up to 12,000 gallons of fire retardant in a single acrobatic swoop.

    The three-engine DC-10 entered service in 1970 as a passenger jet, and the last airplane working in that capacity, operated by Biman Bangladesh Airlines, made its final flight on February 24. But some designs defy obsolescence. The DC-10 had already been converted to function as a mid-air refueling airplane for the Air Force, and in 2006, the first fire-fighting DC-10 was unleashed on the Sawtooth fire in San Bernardino County, California.

    26 comments | 1 hour ago

  • Court: Car Dealers Can't Stop Tesla From Selling In Massachusetts

    curtwoodward writes: Many states have laws that prevent car manufacturers from operating their own dealerships, a throwback to the days when Detroit tried to undercut its franchise dealers by opening company-owned shops. But dealers have taken those laws to the extreme as they battle new competition from Tesla, which is selling its cars direct to the public. In some states, dealers have succeeded in limiting Tesla's direct-sales model. But not in Massachusetts (PDF): the state's Supreme Court says the dealers don't have any right to sue Tesla for unfair competition, since they're not Tesla dealers. No harm, no foul.

    145 comments | 2 days ago

  • Uber CEO: We'll Run Your Errands

    mpicpp writes with Uber's latest plans for expansion. The future of Uber is about pharmacies and rickshaws. So says CEO Travis Kalanick. One of several avenues for expansion is in a category of delivery that's about running errands. "In Los Angeles, we're doing something called Uber Fresh, which is you push a button and you get a lunch in five minutes," Kalanick told CNN's Fareed Zakaria. "In DC, we're doing Uber Corner Store. So imagine all the things you get at a corner store...FedEx isn't going to your nearest pharmacy and delivering something to you in five minutes," he continued. Another is in emerging markets, where the company may focus on rickshaws, rather than high-end black cars, Kalanick said.

    139 comments | 2 days ago

  • 3D-Printed Car Takes Its First Test Drive

    An anonymous reader points out this advancement in 3D printing. This week, at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago, Arizona-based automobile manufacturer Local Motors stole the show. Over the six day span of the IMTS, the company managed to 3D print and assemble an entire automobile, called the "Strati," live in front of spectators. Although the Strati is not the first ever car to be 3D printed, the advancements made by Local Motors with help from Cincinnati Inc, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, have produced a vehicle in days rather than months.

    132 comments | 2 days ago

  • Technological Solution For Texting While Driving Struggles For Traction

    An anonymous reader writes: While legislators and police try to tackle the epidemic of distracted driving through education, regulation, and enforcement, Scott Tibbitts is trying to solve it through engineering. He developed a small device which, when plugged into a vehicle, would determine which phone belonged to the driver and shut off its texting and voice call capabilities. "The telematics box sends a wireless message that the car is moving. The phone sends its own message about its location. Both sets of information — from the car and phone — are sent to Katasi's servers. Then, an algorithm weighs the incoming data with other information, like the location of the phones belonging to all the people who drive the car and the starting point of the trip; if the trip starts at Junior's high school, and mom and dad's phones are at work, the driver has been identified — Junior is driving."

    The problem is that Tibbitts can't get anyone interested in setting up a system to make these devices ubiquitous. Consumers can't be sold on such a product: all evidence suggests people are increasingly unwilling to be cut off from constant communication. So, he tried working with carriers. Sprint partnered with Tibbitts long enough to test the device, but they were afraid of the legal risks involved. Now, Tibbitts is nursing the technology along, looking for a way to get it into cars and make people safer.

    324 comments | 3 days ago

  • Liquid Sponges Extract Hydrogen From Water

    New submitter gaelfx writes: Researchers at Glasglow University have an interesting method for separating the hydrogen out of water: Liquid Sponges. Most methods of extracting the hydrogen involve some form electrolysis, but these generally require some pretty expensive materials. The researchers claim that they can accomplish this using less electricity, cheaper materials and 30 times faster to boot. With both Honda and Toyota promising hydrogen fuel cell cars in Japan within the next few years (other manufacturers must be considering it as well, if not as publicly), does this spell a new future for transportation technology?

    113 comments | 4 days ago

  • The Documents From Google's First DMV Test In Nevada

    An anonymous reader writes "IEEE Spectrum contributor Mark Harris obtained a copy of the DMV test Google's autonomous car passed in Nevada in 2012 and associated documents. What has not been revealed until now, is that Google chose the test route; that it set limits on the road and weather conditions that the vehicle could encounter; and that its engineers had to take control of the car twice during the drive.

    193 comments | 5 days ago

  • To Really Cut Emissions, We Need Electric Buses, Not Just Electric Cars

    An anonymous reader writes: All the EV attention these days is going to Tesla and other sedan manufacturers, but this article makes the case that it's far more important to switch our buses over to electric power than our cars. "Last year, according to the American Public Transportation Association, buses hauled 5.36 billion passengers. While usage has fallen in recent years, thanks in part to the growth of light rail and subway systems, buses still account for more rides each year than heavy rail, light rail, and commuter rail combined—and for about half of all public transit trips." This, while managing around 4-5 miles per gallon of gas, and public buses usually average about 50,000 miles per year. The electric buses themselves are significantly more expensive, but the difference is made up dramatically lower fuel costs. And there will be difficulties: "The range—up to 30 miles—limits Proterra buses to certain routes, so it's hard for an agency to go all in. Drivers have to be trained to brake and accelerate differently, and to maneuver into the docking stations. And Doran Barnes of Foothill Transit notes that some of the cost advantage of using electricity instead of diesel can dissipate. Electric cars can be charged at night, when power prices are low. But buses have no choice but to recharge in the middle of the day, when utilities often impose higher peak usage rates."

    485 comments | about a week ago

  • Toyota and Tesla May Work Together Again

    cartechboy writes: Tesla and Toyota have already worked together a few times. The factory in which Tesla builds the electric Model S? It bought that from Toyota. The Toyota RAV4 EV? The battery and software tuning was done by Tesla. Now it sounds like Tesla and Toyota might have another significant project in the pipeline in the next two or three years. Tesla CEO Musk said such a project could be "on a much higher volume level" than the firm's last project with Toyota, the RAV4 EV. Toyota currently has a 2.4 percent stake in Tesla Motors and has sold 2,130 RAV4 EVs through August. For its part, Toyota has no comment regarding Musk's statements about the future project. Given Toyota's stance on electric cars, Musk's comment is a bit confusing. So what exactly will this joint project be?

    51 comments | about a week ago

  • Surprising Result of NYC Bike Lanes: Faster Traffic for Cars

    A report at vox.com says that the implementation of bike lanes in traffic-heavy New York City has one possibly non-intuitive result: car traffic was sped up as a result. The bike lanes have caused the lanes for cars to be narrowed, but as a result of the street redesign to accomodate bikes, one big change has especially helped to keep cars moving forward more steadily: Although narrower streets can slow traffic, that doesn't seem to have happened here — perhaps because traffic in this area was crawling at around 11 miles per hour to begin with. Instead, the narrower lanes were capable of handling just as much traffic, and one major improvement to intersection design helped them handle more, while also letting bikes travel more safely. This improvement was something called a pocket lane for left-hand turns: a devoted turning lane at most intersections that takes the place of the parking lane, which gets cars out of the way of moving traffic when they're making a left.

    213 comments | about a week ago

  • Tesla Plans To Power Its Gigafactory With Renewables Alone

    AmiMoJo writes In his press conference, Elon Musk stated that the factory will produce all of its own energy using a combination of solar, wind, and geothermal. Engineering.com looks at the feasibility of the plans. Spoiler alert: it looks possible, though some storage will be required. Fortunately, if there is one thing the Gigafactory won't be short of it's batteries. From the article: "The numbers don’t lie. The site could realistically produce more than 2900 MWh of renewable electricity each day ... 20% more than it needs. These are conservative estimates on production and worst-case estimates on consumption, and it’s clear that there’s enough renewable energy to run the plant with some to spare."

    260 comments | about a week ago

  • GM To Introduce Hands-Free Driving In Cadillac Model

    cold fjord notes that drivers will be able to switch a new Cadillac model to partial auto-pilot. General Motors Co. (GM), the largest U.S. automaker, will introduce a Cadillac model in two years that can travel on the highway without the driver holding the steering wheel or putting a foot on a pedal. The 2017 Cadillac model will feature "Super Cruise" technology that takes control of steering, acceleration and braking at highway speeds of 70 miles per hour or in stop-and-go congested traffic, Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said yesterday in a speech at the Intelligent Transport System World Congress in Detroit. GM declined to release the name of the model that will carry the feature. Barra also said GM in two years will become the first automaker to equip a model with so-called vehicle-to-vehicle technology that enables the car to communicate with other autos with similar abilities to warn of traffic hazards and improve road safety. GM will make the V2V feature standard on its 2017 Cadillac CTS sedan, debuting in the second half of 2016, she said. The Super Cruise feature will be on a different Cadillac model and goes beyond similar technology available on some Mercedes-Benz models that operates only at low speeds.

    185 comments | about two weeks ago

  • 3 Decades Later, Finnair Pilots Report Dramatic Close Encounter With a Missile

    jones_supa (887896) writes It has come to light that a Finnair-owned McDonnell Douglas DC-10 passenger jet narrowly avoided being shot down by a missile while en route to Helsinki 27 years ago, claimed the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat on Sunday. The two co-pilots, Esko Kaukiainen and Markku Soininen, describe how the event happened during a routine flight back to Helsinki from Japan in December 1987. When the plane was crossing the Arctic Ocean, a missile appeared in the distance. The crew thought it was a Russian weather rocket on its way into space, but the missile began heading straight towards the aircraft. Just 20 seconds away from a collision, the missile exploded. The captain, who was resting at the time of the incident, never officially reported the event. The question of who fired the missile has never been definitively answered. But the pilots believe it was launched from either the Soviet Union's Kola Peninsula or a submarine in the Barents Sea. They speculate that the missile could have been a misfire or that the plane was used as training target.

    138 comments | about two weeks ago

  • After Weeks of Delay, SpaceX Falcon Launches Communications Satellite Payload

    After several weeks of delay, SpaceX has successfully launched from Cape Canaveral AsiaSat's communications satellite, AsiaSat 6. This launch was originally intended to occur on August 27. However, due to a failure of an experimental SpaceX rocket during a test flight, the launch was delayed. The experimental rocket apparently malfunctioned because of a sensor error. The company stated that the same error wasn’t likely to occur in its regular Falcon 9 rocket, but wanted to "triple-check" its systems to be certain. SpaceFlightInsider has a play-by-play on the launch process and more details on the communications satellites aboard. They note: [This] marked the fifth flight of the Falcon 9 in 2014. Since the company began using the booster, it had only been able to carry out about two launches annually of the rocket – until now. With the United States Air Force considering the rocket for use under the lucrative Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program and NASA already utilizing it to deliver cargo (and potentially crew) to the International Space Station, the rocket has become a popular player in terms of launch services. The next mission that SpaceX should use the propulsive descent landing system on, is the launch of one of the firm’s Dragon spacecraft carrying out NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 4 (SpX-4) mission – currently scheduled to take place on Sept. 19.

    32 comments | about two weeks ago

  • 3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

    The AP reports that American airplane passengers, squeezed by increasingly tight seating aboard planes, are lashing out, actually getting into in-flight fights over knee room: Three U.S. flights have made unscheduled landings in the past eight days after passengers got into fights over the ability to recline their seats. Disputes over a tiny bit of personal space might seem petty, but for passengers whose knees are already banging into tray tables, every bit counts. ... Southwest and United both took away 1 inch from each row on certain jets to make room for six more seats. American is increasing the number of seats on its Boeing 737-800s from 150 to 160. Delta installed new, smaller toilets in its 737-900s, enabling it to squeeze in an extra four seats. And to make room for a first-class cabin with lie-flat beds on transcontinental flights, JetBlue cut the distance between coach seats by one inch.

    812 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Tesla's Next Auto-Dealer Battleground State: Georgia

    cartechboy (2660665) writes [Elon] Musk and Tesla's biggest hurdle in the U.S. has been bypassing conventional dealerships and selling directly to customers. This concept is something that's illegal in many states thanks to a nationwide patchwork of decades-old franchise laws. Tesla's latest battle is taking place in Georgia where dealers allege that the start-up company is in violation of the state's franchise laws. Not surprisingly, Tesla's fighting back. To sell cars in Georgia, Tesla had to agree to sell fewer than 150 vehicles directly to consumers in the state. Last week the Georgia Automobile Dealers Association complained that Tesla sold 173 vehicles. Tesla hasn't publicly commented on how many vehicles it has sold in Georgia. We've seen time and time again how this story ends, and the writing is clearly on the wall for this case. Another bit of writing on the wall, though, as reported by the L.A. Times, is that recent electric car sales in the U.S. have been stagnant.

    157 comments | about two weeks ago

  • New Usage-Based Insurance Software Can Track Drivers Using Smartphones

    Lucas123 (935744) writes A new software platform released by one of the nation's largest insurance roadside services providers will allow insurers to track drivers through smartphone sensors and geolocation services in order to offer good driver incentives or emergency roadside assistance. The tracking software is similar to technology currently offered by State Farm's In-Drive and Progressive's Snapshot program, but the latter uses a hardware collection device that plugs into a vehicle's standard OBDII onboard diagnostics port. The new software platform from Agero travels with the driver in and out of the car, so that if a customer is in an accident emergency services are still contacted.

    137 comments | about two weeks ago

  • The Quiet Revolution of Formula E Electric Car Racing

    pbahra writes One of the greatest emotional triggers at any auto-racing event is the noise. In Nascar, it is the earthshaking growl of V8 American muscle. In Formula One, it is the chest-rattling wail of 15,000 rpm. To some the sound is repellent. To others it is like an opera. But what if there is no sound at all? Welcome to the quiet world of Formula E, a global racing series for electric cars, which debuts this month in Beijing.

    116 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Reno Selected For Tesla Motors Battery Factory

    First time accepted submitter Mikenan writes Tesla has finally decided that it will build its battery "gigafactory" in Nevada, sources say. "That's a go, but they are still negotiating the specifics of the contract," a source within the Nevada's governor's office told CNBC Wednesday afternoon. The source noted that it could be a week before the deal is official. Nevada is planning a press conference Thursday in Carson City.

    157 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Uber Now Blocked All Over Germany

    An anonymous reader writes Following the blocking of Uber in Berlin, DE, the district court of Frankfurt/Main has issued a restraining order for Uber services all over Germany (German original). The district court is alleging "uncompetitive behavior" (Unlauteres Wettbewerbsverhalten) on Uber's part, and has proclaimed that not following the restraining order will result in a fine of €250.000 or imprisonment. This ruling is related to the German "Personenbeförderungsgesetz" and is outlining that no legal entity (person, enterprise) is allowed to transfer passengers without having passed the relevant tests and having the appropriate insurance coverage.

    312 comments | about two weeks ago

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