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Transportation

FTC Approves Tesla's Direct Sales Model 18

Posted by samzenpus
from the sell-how-you-want dept.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "We've all read about Tesla and the ongoing battles its having with different dealer associations. Basically, dealer associations aren't too pleased about the Silicon Valley startup's direct sales model. Today the FTC has had made a statement on the matter and it's actually in favor of Tesla's direct sales model. 'In this case and others, many state and local regulators have eliminated the direct purchasing option for consumers, by taking steps to protect existing middlemen from new competition. We believe this is bad policy for a number of reasons,' wrote Andy Gavil, Debbie Feinstein, and Marty Gaynor in the FTC's 'Who decides how consumers should shop?' posting to the Competition Matters blog. The FTC appears to take issue not with those laws, but with how they're being used, and with the direct-sales bans being passed in several states. Now the only real question is how long will it be before Tesla prevails in all states?"
Transportation

Will the Nissan Leaf Take On the Tesla Model S At Half the Price? 389

Posted by timothy
from the need-more-juice dept.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Ask most people why they won't consider an electric car, and they talk about range anxiety. And I can easily imagine why 84 miles of range isn't enough. Now it sounds like Nissan is listening, as well as watching Tesla's success. The company plans to boost the Leaf electric car's driving range with options for larger battery packs. Not long ago Nissan surveyed Tesla Model S owners, and they probably heard loud and clear that longer driving range is very, very important. So it looks like the Leaf might get up to 150 miles of range, possibly by the 2016 model year. The range increase will come from a larger battery pack, possibly 36 or 42 kWh, and more energy-dense cells. Either way, clearly Nissan is looking to expand the appeal of the world's best-selling electric car, and increasing its driving range is pretty clearly a key to doing so. I just wish Nissan would ditch the weird styling while they're at it."
Transportation

Experts Say Hitching a Ride In an Airliner's Wheel Well Is Not a Good Idea 235

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the don't-forget-your-jacket dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Hasani Gittens reports that as miraculous as it was that a 16-year-old California boy was able to hitch a ride from San Jose to Hawaii and survive, it isn't the first time a wheel-well stowaway has lived to tell about it. The FAA says that since 1947 there have been 105 people who have tried to surreptitiously travel in plane landing gear — with a survival rate of about 25 percent. But agency adds that the actual numbers are probably higher, as some survivors may have escaped unnoticed, and bodies could fall into the ocean undetected. Except for the occasional happy ending, hiding in the landing gear of a aircraft as it soars miles above the Earth is generally a losing proposition. According to an FAA/Wright State University study titled 'Survival at High Altitudes: Wheel-Well Passengers,' at 20,000 feet the temperature experienced by a stowaway would be -13 F, at 30,000 it would be -45 in the wheel well — and at 40,000 feet, the mercury plunges to a deadly -85 F (PDF). 'You're dealing with an incredibly harsh environment,' says aviation and security expert Anthony Roman. 'Temperatures can reach -50 F, and oxygen levels there are barely sustainable for life.' Even if a strong-bodied individual is lucky enough to stand the cold and the lack of oxygen, there's still the issue of falling out of the plane. 'It's almost impossible not to get thrown out when the gear opens,' says Roman.

So how do the lucky one-in-four survive? The answer, surprisingly, is that a few factors of human physiology are at play: As the aircraft climbs, the body enters a state of hypoxia—that is, it lacks oxygen—and the person passes out. At the same time, the frigid temperatures cause a state of hypothermia, which preserves the nervous system. 'It's similar to a young kid who falls to the bottom of an icy lake," says Roman. "and two hours later he survives, because he was so cold.'"
Transportation

NYC's 19th-Century Horse Carriages Spawn Weird, Truck-Size Electric Car 204

Posted by samzenpus
from the origin-story dept.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Led by Tesla, electric cars are all the rage now. And the idea of a nine-passenger all-electric vehicle sounds good--until you learn that it maxes out at 30 mph, weighs almost four tons, and costs in the six figures. What is this monstrosity? It's the Frankenstein creation of a group of animal-rights advocates, who are proposing it as the replacement for New York City's fabled horse carriages--and who paid $450,000 to have a prototype built. Who's against it? Would you believe Liam Neeson and one of NYC's daily papers? The huge electric car--modeled after an early 1900s open touring car, complete with brass lanterns--is on display this week at the New York Auto Show, and it's certainly attracting its share of attention."
Transportation

Drones On Demand 49

Posted by timothy
from the but-you-can't-demand-none dept.
mikejuk (1801200) writes "Gofor is a new company that is promoting the idea of drones on demand. All you have to do is use the app to request a drone and it shows you were they are and how long before one reaches your location. You want to take the ultimate selfie? Scout ahead to see if the road is clear or just find a parking space? No problem just task a drone to do the job. For the photo you simply flash your phone camera at it and it pinpoints your location for an aerial selfie. If it is scouting ahead then it shows you what awaits you via a video link. See the promo video to see how it might work. Flight of fancy? Possibly but the company claims to be operational in five US cities." I wish my car had a drone for instant scouting of traffic-jam alternates.
Power

Why Tesla Really Needs a Gigafactory 192

Posted by timothy
from the if-only-there-were-fast-swap-stations-everywhere dept.
Hodejo1 (1252120) writes "Tesla has already put over 25,000 cars on the road with more to come and, presumably, most will still be running well past the 8-year battery warranty. What would happen if it is time to replace the battery pack on an old Model S or X and the cost is $25K? Simple, it would destroy the resale value of said cars, which would negatively affect the lease value of new Tesla automobiles. That's a big part of the real reason why Tesla is building its own battery factory. They not only need to ensure enough supply for new cars, but they have to dramatically bring down the price of the replacement batteries low enough so owners of otherwise perfectly running old Teslas don't just junk them. The Tesla Roadster was not a mass produced vehicle, so the cost of replacing its battery is $40K. The economies of scale of a gigafactory alone will drop battery costs dramatically. Heavy research could drop it further over the next decade or so."
Moon

RIP, NASA Moon Landing Engineer John C. Houbolt 33

Posted by timothy
from the why-when-he-was-a-boy dept.
The Houston Chronicle reports the death of John C. Houbolt, whose ideas helped guide the U.S. moon-landing programs. Houbolt died on Tuesday at the age of 95, in a nursing home in Maine. Says the Chronicle's obituary: "His efforts in the early 1960s are largely credited with convincing NASA to focus on the launch of a module carrying a crew from lunar orbit, rather than a rocket from earth or a space craft while orbiting the planet. Houbolt argued that a lunar orbit rendezvous, or lor, would not only be less mechanically and financially onerous than building a huge rocket to take man to the moon or launching a craft while orbiting the earth, but lor was the only option to meet President John F. Kennedy's challenge before the end of the decade."
Transportation

Mercedes Pooh-Poohs Tesla, Says It Has "Limited Potential" 359

Posted by timothy
from the is-it-a-king-george-moment? dept.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "They say you shouldn't bite the hand that feeds you. Maybe it should go you shouldn't trash talk the company you partner with. U.S. head of Mercedes-Benz Steve Cannon was just quoted as saying future service of Tesla's vehicles could be 'limited,' and that while it's great, the market could be more attracted to other luxury automakers once their products hit the market. Cannon also suggests that the current infrastructure isn't up to maintaining and fueling electric vehicles, in particularly Tesla's stores and go-to servicing can't handle high demands. Naturally he said Mercedes has the 'whole network' to put customers minds' at ease. Sounds like fighting words to me. Hey Mercedes, where's your Model S competitor?" There is a reason that Jim Rogers drove around the world in a Mercedes.
Power

'Thermoelectrics' Could One Day Power Cars 174

Posted by Soulskill
from the hot-wheels dept.
sciencehabit writes: "Fossil fuels power modern society by generating heat, but much of that heat is wasted. Researchers have tried to reclaim some of it with semiconductor devices called thermoelectrics, which convert the heat into power. But they remain too inefficient and expensive to be useful beyond a handful of niche applications. Now, scientists in Illinois report that they have used a cheap, well-known material to create the most heat-hungry thermoelectric so far (abstract). In the process, the researchers say, they learned valuable lessons that could push the materials to the efficiencies needed for widespread applications. If that happens, thermoelectrics could one day power cars and scavenge energy from myriad engines, boilers, and electrical plants."
Media

Bill Gates Patents Detecting, Responding To "Glassholes" 140

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the fighting-back-against-the-thousand-eyes dept.
theodp (442580) writes "As Google Glass goes on sale [ed: or rather, went on sale] to the general public, GeekWire reports that Bill Gates has already snagged one patent for 'detecting and responding to an intruding camera' and has another in the works. The invention proposes to equip computer and device displays with technology for detecting and responding to any cameras in the vicinity by editing or blurring the content on the screen, or alerting the user to the presence of the camera. Gates and Nathan Myhrvold are among the 16 co-inventors of the so-called Unauthorized Viewer Detection System and Method, which the patent application notes is useful 'while a user is taking public transportation, where intruding cameras are likely to be present.' So, is Bill's patent muse none other than NYC subway rider Sergey Brin?" A more cynical interpretation: closing the analog hole. Vaguely related, mpicpp pointed out that Google filed a patent for cameras embedded in contact lenses.
Transportation

How Apple's CarPlay Could Shore Up the Car Stereo Industry 194

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-i-like-having-63-tiny-buttons-to-press-while-driving dept.
Velcroman1 writes: "Car stereo salesmen and installers around the country are hoping Apple's CarPlay in-car infotainment system will have a big presence in the aftermarket car stereo industry. The Nikkei Asian Review reports that Alpine is making car stereo head units for between $500 – $700 that will run the iOS-like system Apple unveiled last month, and Macrumors added Clarion to the list of CarPlay supporters. Pioneer is also getting into the game, with support said to be coming to existing car stereo models in its NEX line ($700 – $1400) via firmware update, according to Twice. Given Apple's wildly supportive fan base, its likely that a lot of aftermarket CarPlay units are about to fly off stereo shop shelves. Indeed, CarPlay coming to aftermarket stereo units could bring back what Apple indirectly stole from the industry going back as far as 2006."
Transportation

Will This Flying Car Get Crowdfunded? 157

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-about-my-jetpack? dept.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "We all just have too much money on our hands, and we really want a flying car, right? Well that's what Skylys thinks, as it's trying to crowdfund a flying car. According to its website, 'In detail we aim to create an urban dual-mode, hybrid flight and electric drive motorized vehicle that fits into sustainable mobility.' How much money does it need? Oh about $3,111,075. Apparently the company has run out of money and needs more to 'start construction on our two prototypes to confirm our technical specifications; pay the chaps in the legal department; industrial engineers and take up occupancy of our future offices in Silicon Valley, where our backers can of course pay us a visit.'"
Transportation

The Best Parking Apps You've Never Heard Of and Why You Haven't 163

Posted by samzenpus
from the park-that-anywhere dept.
Bennett Haselton writes "If you read no further, use either the BestParking or ParkMe app to search all nearby parking garages for the cheapest spot, based on the time you're arriving and leaving. I'm interested in the question of why so few people know about these apps, how is it that they've been partially crowded out by other 'parking apps' that are much less useful, and why our marketplace for ideas and intellectual properly is still so inefficient." Read below to see what Bennett has to say.
Transportation

First Glow-In-the-Dark Road Debuts In Netherlands 187

Posted by samzenpus
from the shine-on dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A 500 meter (0.3 mile) stretch of road in the Netherlands has opened without the standard crop of streetlights lining its perimeter. The streetlights are believed to be unnecessary since the road markings were painted on with a mix of photo-luminescent powder, which absorbs sunlight during the day and radiates a portion of that energy back at night. Whether the modified road paint can withstand harsh weather or even provide sufficient lighting given insufficient exposure to sunlight during the day remains to be seen. The project was orchestrated by Studio Roosegaarde, which in the future plans to implement weather-sensitive road markings that would inform drivers when outside temperatures drop or rise above certain levels."
Cellphones

The Case For a Safer Smartphone 184

Posted by Soulskill
from the everyone's-dangerous-behind-the-wheel-except-me dept.
itwbennett writes: "According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, people who text and drive increase their chances of 'safety-critical events' by a multiple of 23.2. And new research is constantly rolling out, showing the same thing: 'We can't handle the visual, manual, and cognitive commitment of using a phone while driving,' writes blogger Kevin Purdy. What's needed, Purdy suggests, isn't more laws that will go ignored, but phones that know enough to stop giving us the distractions we ask them for: 'I think the next good phone, the next phone that makes some variant of the claim that it "Fits the way you live," needs to know that we don't know what is good for us when it comes to driving. We want to be entertained and shown new things while doing the often mundane or stressful task of driving. More specifically, those phones should know when we are driving, quiet or otherwise obscure updates from most apps, and be able to offer their most basic functions without needing to turn on a screen or type a single letter.'"
The Military

AT Black Knight Transformer Hits the Road and Takes a Hop 33

Posted by timothy
from the best-toys-are-always-someone-else's dept.
Zothecula (1870348) writes "Following on from driving tests that wound up in December last year, the Black Knight Transformer prototype demonstrator has taken to the air for the first time. California-based Advanced Tactics, Inc., announced its vehicle, which combines the capabilities of a helicopter and an off-road vehicle, completed its first flight tests last month, being remotely piloted at an undisclosed location in Southern California."
Transportation

GM Names Names, Suspends Two Engineers Over Ignition-Switch Safety 236

Posted by timothy
from the laying-blame dept.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "GM said it has placed two engineers on paid leave in connection with its massive recall probe of 2 million vehicles. Now, GM is asking NASA to advise on whether those cars are safe to drive even with the ignition key alone. Significantly, individual engineers now have their names in print and face a raft of inquiries what they did or didn't know, did or didn't do, and when. A vulnerability for GM: One engineer may have tried to re-engineer the faulty ignition switch without changing the part number—an unheard-of practice in the industry. Is it a good thing that people who engineer for a living can now get their names on national news for parts designed 10 years ago? The next time your mail goes down, should we know the name of the guy whose code flaw may have caused that?"
Transportation

Future Airline Safety Instructions Will Be Given By Game Apps 64

Posted by samzenpus
from the playing-it-safe dept.
vrml (3027321) writes "They revealed the existence of their project only to aviation safety specialists at the recent FAA Conference on Cabin Safety in Philadelphia (PDF). Now a team of Italian researchers from the HCI Lab of the University of Udine has publicly released the first in a set of aviation safety apps on which they are working. Their mission is to propose novel, first-of-their-kind solutions to a well-known problem in aviation safety: passengers lack preparedness about what to do in aircraft emergencies, and do not pay attention or do not clearly comprehend the pre-flight briefings and safety cards used by airlines to instruct them about safety. So the project is re-inventing safety cards and briefings with new media, turning them into games and apps. The first game they decided to release focuses specifically on the 'Brace for impact' position: players can pose the body of their avatar in the 3D airplane cabin and get a personalized simulation of a crash landing . To win the game, you must save your avatar (and yourself)."
United Kingdom

London's Public Bike Data Can Tell Everyone Where You've Been 41

Posted by timothy
from the away-from-flat-call-in-the-burglary-lorry dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I recently posted this article with a few vizualizations and a bit of analysis about the risks associated with open data sets. Thought it might be of interest of Slashdot readers: 'This article is about a publicly available dataset of bicycle journey data that contains enough information to track the movements of individual cyclists across London, for a six month period just over a year ago.'"
Transportation

Under the Chassis: A Look At Tesla's Battery Shield 152

Posted by timothy
from the now-for-the-suv dept.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Tesla said a few weeks ago it would add additional safety shielding to protect the battery of every Model S car on the road against damage from road debris. But it offered no photos of its update as it would look when installed--so one owner took his own. These may be the first detail shots of what the three different pieces look like. There's a half-round aluminum tube, a titanium plate, and a T-shaped section--and you can see how they combine to deflect and direct impacts to minimize damage to the battery. Do these updates look like they'll solve Tesla's problems?"

One man's "magic" is another man's engineering. "Supernatural" is a null word. -- Robert Heinlein

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