Showing posts with label transportation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label transportation. Show all posts

June 28, 2014

Production HondaJet is flying and will have breakthroughs like 2 to 3 times more fuel efficient when commercial in 2015

The first production HondaJet achieved its initial flight, marking another milestone toward aircraft certification and entry into service in 2015. The event took place at the company's world headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina.

“With this first flight, the HondaJet program has entered the next exciting phase as we prepare for delivery,” said Honda Aircraft Company President and CEO Michimasa Fujino. “Today's celebration is the culmination of extensive engineering and production efforts, and this is an important achievement in bringing the world's most advanced light jet to market.”

The first production aircraft lifted off from the Piedmont Triad International Airport (KGSO) at 10:18 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. During the 84-minute flight, the aircraft climbed to 15,500 feet and reached a speed of 348 Knots True Airspeed (KTAS). Following a smooth landing, the aircraft and its crew were greeted by more than 1,000 Honda Aircraft team members to commemorate the milestone.

Max Range: 1,180 nautical miles
Max Seating: 6 passengers
Price (Approximate): $3.7 Million

March 16, 2014

China reveals more details of its urbanization plan and Hukou reform

China is targeting having 60 percent of the population in urban areas by 2020, according to the plan. That compares with 53.7 percent in 2013 and about 50 percent in 2010. The U.S. proportion was 82 percent in 2011 and Japan’s was 91 percent, according to a joint report in 2012 by the World Bank and Development Research Center of the State Council.

China will speed up the construction of railways, expressways and airports to support the rapid urbanization, Xinhua said in a separate report on the plan.

The government will remove restrictions on obtaining household registration permits in small cities and towns, while it will strictly control the populations of cities with more than 5 million urban residents, according to the plan. China will help 100 million people, including migrant workers, get status as urban residents by 2020.

The plan still projects only around 45% of the population would have full rights as urban residents, meaning they are eligible for city pension and medical coverage as well as public services like education for their children. The rate was 35.3% at the end of 2012.

January 17, 2014

Aluminum body Ford F150 marks a big shift to aluminum and lightweight cars and trucks

The 2015 Ford F150 debuted Monday with an aluminum body at the Detroit Auto Show, weighing 700 pounds less than the old one. This would be 12% lower weight. Ford Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields acknowledged that working with aluminum was more expensive than steel.

Ford earns about $11,000 on a pickup truck sale compared with $5,000 for a car. The F-Series trucks account for nearly half of Ford’s North American profits, he said, and the company can’t afford a misfire.

Ford lent out the aluminum body F150 to test how lightweight aluminum alloys would hold up on the job, at a gold mine, an energy utility and a construction firm. They lent out the trucks in a test program — without telling the companies what was being tested. Ford eventually took some of the trucks back and tore them apart, looking to see how they withstood the rigors of the rugged worksites. It then made some changes, such as making the inner surface of the tailgate thicker for extra protection.

Ford has sold 33 million F-Series trucks since 1948, and at least 11 million are still on the road, the company said. In 2013, Ford sold 763,000 F150 trucks in the U.S.

Ford increased the amount of high-strength steel in the frame, from 23% to 77%, to give the vehicle rigidity and improve its handling.

August 29, 2013

Air Pollution Causes about 200,000 premature deaths each year in the USA

A MIT group tracked ground-level emissions from sources such as industrial smokestacks, vehicle tailpipes, marine and rail operations, and commercial and residential heating throughout the United States, and found that such air pollution causes about 200,000 early deaths each year. Emissions from road transportation are the most significant contributor, causing 53,000 premature deaths, followed closely by power generation, with 52,000.

California suffers the worst health impacts from air pollution, with about 21,000 early deaths annually, mostly attributed to road transportation and to commercial and residential emissions from heating and cooking.

The researchers also mapped local emissions in 5,695 U.S. cities, finding the highest emissions-related mortality rate in Baltimore, where 130 out of every 100,000 residents likely die in a given year due to long-term exposure to air pollution.

“In the past five to 10 years, the evidence linking air-pollution exposure to risk of early death has really solidified and gained scientific and political traction,” says Steven Barrett, an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT.

A person who dies from an air pollution-related cause typically dies about a decade earlier than he or she otherwise might have.

The US was producing about 27000 TWh of energy in 2005 (the date of the pollution study).

April 24, 2013

Artificial Intelligence to provide Google searchers answer and not just links

Ray Kurzweil joined Google to develop a truly intelligent computer ( one that could understand language and then make inferences and decisions on its own.). It will require nothing less than Google-scale data and computing power.

Kurzweil was attracted not just by Google’s computing resources but also by the startling progress the company has made in a branch of AI called deep learning. Deep-learning software attempts to mimic the activity in layers of neurons in the neocortex, the wrinkly 80 percent of the brain where thinking occurs. The software learns, in a very real sense, to recognize patterns in digital representations of sounds, images, and other data.

They are producing remarkable advances in speech and image recognition. Last June, a Google deep-learning system that had been shown 10 million images from YouTube videos proved almost twice as good as any previous image recognition effort at identifying objects such as cats. Google also used the technology to cut the error rate on speech recognition in its latest Android mobile software.

April 11, 2013

Self driving cars and robot truck platoons could start to appear for commercial use by 2018

In February this year, aline-up of four large trucks circled an oval test track in Tsukuba City, Japan to help get so-called “truck platooning” technology ready for real-world use. This technology aims to create semi-autonomous road trains, where convoys of vehicles enter a snaking train of vehicles under the command of the lead vehicle. The drivers of the “drones” are then free to do whatever they like – read a book, take a nap or just sit. When they are ready to leave, the driver takes back control and exits the train. In theory the technology offers several benefits, such as cutting down on accidents and improving fuel efficiency.

The Japanese demonstration was the latest of a couple of projects set up to trial and develop the technology.

* A couple of years ago a project at RWTH Aachen University in Germany operated a platoon of four trucks spaced at 10m (33ft) intervals.

* In the US, research at the University of California, Berkeley put three-truck caravans on the road with spacing from 3 to 6 meters.

* last year, the Scania Transport Laboratory in Sweden tested aspects of truck platooning on a 520km (325 miles) shipping route between the cities of Sodertalje and Helsingborg.

* a recently completed European project led by Volvo called Safe Road Trains for the Environment (Sartre) has explored using cars and lorries simultaneously. Its platoons cruised at 85 km/h (50mph) with a gap between each vehicle of 6m. The study vehicles put in some 10,000 km (6,200 miles) of road, and – like the Japanese study – indicated that platooning could offer substantial benefits.

* The Japanese study was intended to address some of the challenges in making the technology ready for public use by ensuring bulletproof safety and reliability. The Japanese target is to enable both large and small trucks to safely maintain a 4 meters distance between vehicles in single file while driving 80km/h.

April 04, 2013

Bolonkin’s hypersonic linear electric engine (HABE) explained and why it could enable cheaper than maglev hypersonic travel and space launch

A guest post by Joseph Friedlander

The Bolonkin’s hypersonic linear electric engine (HABE) was described recently from a paper by Alexander Bolonkin. There was a concern that the hypersonic sliding of contacts could be a design flaw or problem.

Working hypersonic sliding contacts have been done but I am sure shoe life is short. Below is proof it can be done— this is the fastest pair of rocket sled records --about Mach 10 (2.5 km/s +) in 2003.

Note that lunar escape velocity is on the order of 2.38 km/s (5324 MPH) so even the 1982 test could have done that. I have not seen anyone mention in an an article about using a rocket sled for export of passive payloads from Moon to Earth—so consider this a first!

Wikipedia has land speed records for railed rocket sleds

Reading the paper it is clear that the HABE train is hard to visualize. The carrier is railroad like to suspend the thing before sufficient lift is generated. From 200 m/s and onward the tracks are left behind and the ship detaches from the ground engine. There is sliding electrical contact between sacrificial shoes and the electrical bus of the launcher. This is not a coilgun. There is a similarity to a railgun but it is not exact.

The ground track installation is usable as a ground railway, a ground railway launched aircraft and as the initial boost part of a space launch system. The difference is in the final speed and separate compatible hardware may be needed for each class of vehicle.

Professor Bolonkin believes the US Navy has solved (how economically is unclear) the problem of sliding hypersonic railgun contacts because they are moving to sea trials of a 4 km/sec railgun. Just twice that velocity puts us into orbital boost velocity. (More may be needed to compensate for gravity and drag loss, etc)

Note that disposable iron electrical contact "shoes" that are sacrificial (worn out) with which make actual hypersonic contact at each launch with very spectacular display are expensive but are not the worst alternative. They will cost $1000 per set of contact points and be a small part of the expense of a 10 ton launch ($100/ ton additional cost)--compare to routine cost of a helicopter at $8000 per flight hour.

April 01, 2013

Now that Tesla is Profitable, Elon Musk Should Be Providing the Details of the Hyperloop

Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), the electric-car maker headed by billionaire Elon Musk, climbed to a record after saying it turned its first quarterly profit on higher-than- forecasted sales of its Model S sedan, overcoming a controversy about the car’s performance.

Tesla rose 13 percent to $42.94 at 9:42 a.m. New York time after surging as much as 14 percent to $43.33. Tesla reached “full profitability” as Model S sales were more than 250 units higher than the 4,500 that the electric-car maker projected in mid-February, according to a company statement yesterday that didn’t specify the profit figure.

Tesla has forecast that deliveries of the battery-powered Model S will rise to a record 20,000 in 2013. The car starts at $59,900 and has a range of as far as 300 miles (483 kilometers) in ideal conditions when its 85-kilowatt-hour battery pack is fully charged.

Elon Musk had wanted to get Tesla profitable first before publishing full details about his Hyperloop transportation system to not get shareholder irate that he is distracted.

He said this was be a new kind of mass transport system. “I want something that is faster than a plane, costs less, can’t crash, and is immune to weather.” It also can’t have a right of way issue, where people have to give up their homes. Elon Musk and some of his Spacex and Tesla engineers are working on something he calls the “Hyperloop” which will be a “cross between a rail-gun and a Concorde.”

Elon Musk has stated that he will have a big announcement on April 2, 2013.

March 29, 2013

Hypersonic Electric Acceleration for Launching to Space and for accelerating commercial hypersonic planes that is cheaper than maglev and more efficient

Alexander Bolonkin proposes a hypersonic ground based electric engine that is several times more efficient than railguns and more economical than maglev rail.

The main idea of the offered ground hypersonic electric engine is segmentation of the acceleration track on small special closed-loop sections (12.5 – 100 meters) and a system of special switches which allow return of the magnetic energy to the system transferring it to apparatus movement. This increases the efficiency of hypersonic engine up 90% (instead of 20-40% for a railgun). It avoids the burning of rails when using the engine for long periods of time. The same idea may be used in a conventional Rail Gun.

The feasibility and practicality of this invention was designed for the purpose of using it as a space launcher for astronauts and space load, as method for hypersonic long distance aviation and as method for supersonic passenger ground rail transportation. The offered system will be significantly cheaper than the currently used MagLev (Magnetic Levitation) systems, because the vehicle employs conventional wings for levitation and the hypersonic engine is very simple. The offered system may be also used for mass launch of projectiles as a weapon.

The suggested launcher is
* very simple
* uses conventional iron rails
* does not generate high heating
* can be produced with present technology.
* A large conventional power plant is enough for launching over ten tons into orbit.

January 27, 2013

130 mph Airships that can land without ground crews

Aeros has completed its experimental rigid variable-bouyancy airship and accomplished the first of four tasks under its contract with the Pentagon's Rapid Reaction Technology Office. The 230ft-long Aeroscraft prototype, called Pelican, has completed a ground-handling demonstration showing the 36,000lb vehicle can move without assistance from ground personnel, controlled from the cockpit and using its air-bearing landing gear. The Pelican was heavier than air for the demonstration.

A first float test principally demonstrated the unique lightweight rigid structure conception and Control of Static Heaviness (COSH) system of this radical airlift vehicle and met a key Aeroscraft performance goal: operate without ballast, ground infrastructure or handling.

The Aeroscraft controls its buoyancy by pumping helium between lifting-gas cells and pressurized tanks inside the composite aeroshell. Compressing the helium makes the vehicle heavier than air for easier ground handling and cargo unloading. Releasing the helium displaces air inside the vehicle and makes it neutrally buoyant.

The buoyancy control system can vary the Pelican's "static heaviness" by 3,000-4,000lb, says Pasternak, enough to allow the prototype to take off vertically, yet be heavier than air for landing and unloading. All of the tests are taking place inside Aeros' airship hangar in Tustin, California, with the vehicle expected to reach a height of 10-15ft. Aeros wants to build a 450ft-long vehicle able to carry a 66-ton payload over a 3,000nm unrefueled range.

It uses one third of the fuel of airplanes. This type of vehicle could displace helicopters and some niches from trucks.

November 30, 2012

Elon Musk and his team are checking the Math on Hyperloop Paper before Publishing Dec 2012

Elon Musk and some of his Spacex and Tesla engineers are working on something he calls the “Hyperloop” which will be a “cross between a rail-gun and a Concorde.”
He said this was be a new kind of mass transport system. “I want something that is faster than a plane, costs less, can’t crash, and is immune to weather.” It also can’t have a right of way issue, where people have to give up their homes.

But he would reveal more details later, after he’d completed more calculations.

In mid-November, Elon Musk said he would publish a paper on his Hyperloop transportation system "in the next month".

Elon says he wants no controlling role in any company which might emerge from the Hyperloop system: "I just want to put it out there in a way that doesn't require me to do day-to-day execution… I would like to do less, actually. I tried my hardest to avoid being CEO of Tesla. Running two companies is not the most fun thing in the world."

So Elon also did not want to be CEO of Tesla but ended up with that job anyway.

October 06, 2012

First hand experience of China high speed rail and regular rail

National Geographic has an article by Ian Johnson on China's high speed rail. Ian Johnson is a Beijing-based writer who won a Pulitzer Prize.

Riding from Beijing to Shanghai, the experience seems as good as any I'd had in Europe, and possibly even better, given the greater distances. Yes, the finish and the details look cheap compared to German or French trains, and the food is atrocious.

But the trains average 180 miles (290 kilometers) an hour. You rip through the countryside, stopping only twice before pulling into Shanghai's new Hongqiao station on time. As for the price, second class is $90, cheaper than all but the deepest discounted airline ticket, and the total travel time is only about an hour longer than by plane, once you factor in getting out to the airport, going through security, and so on.

October 03, 2012

China Opens more High Speed Rail

NZWeek - A new high-speed railway connecting central China’s Zhengzhou City and the eastern city of Wuhan opened last Friday. The Zheng-Wu high-speed railway, covers a distance of 536 km and trains will pass along it at a designed speed of 350 km per hour. The Zheng-Wu high-speed railway has cut the travel time from Zhengzhou to Wuhan from four and a half hours to two hours, said Li, integrating the central China economic zone and the Yangtze River Delta.

Investment in the Zheng-Wu high-speed railway hit 69.4 billion yuan (11 billion U.S. dollars), with its construction taking about four years, according to Yu Zhuomin, chief of the Wuhan Railway Station Bureau.

September 26, 2012

Toward a Production Very Light Car from the makers of Edison 2

The Edison 2 won the 100 mpg Xprize with a 120 mpg run over 200 miles in 2010. It was a 750 pound car.

A next generation Very Light Car is being developed. It is much more than just a pre-production version of the X Prize prototype. It is a completely new vehicle, using the same underlying architecture and with the same virtues of efficiency that won us the X Prize.

A VLC prototype with a Smart Car driveline achieved 89 MPG (highway), compared to 41 MPG for the Smart

The VLC demonstrated the lowest drag ever recorded at the GM Aero Lab for a multi-passenger car (0.160 Cd)

A 1060 lb. VLC, in a 40% Offset Frontal crash test, allowed only a 22g peak passenger compartment acceleration, well below the allowable limit of 70g (Center for Advanced Products Testing)

Top view of the next generation Very Light Car

On the left the 2010 Xprize winner and on the right the next generation VLC

September 17, 2012

Strait of Hormuz and other Oil Chokepoints

In January, 2012 we had looked at what would happen the Straits of Hormuz an oil movement if there was war with Iran and the economic impact of Iran attempting to shut the Straits of Hormuz. This is an update.

Iran currently is not exporting much, about 1 million barrels per day.

So an attack that shutdown Iranian exports would be less impactful than the Libyan situation last year.

Iran would attempt to mine and shutdown the straits of hormuz. 17 million barrels goes through the Straits of Hormuz.

Pentagon officials estimate if Iran was foolish enough to try and close the Strait of Hormuz using its estimated arsenal of 2,000 mines, the US Navy and allied nations would be able to clear it in five to ten days. That's just long enough to likely cause massive spikes in worldwide oil prices, disrupt global shipping traffic. "If they wanted to close the Strait of Hormuz, they could do it, but they would only be able to do it one time," Christopher Harmer, a retired Navy commander who served as director of future operations at U.S. 5th Fleet headquarters in Bahrain, told KTLA

September 16, 2012

Elon Musk's big plans include Vertical takeoff Supersonic Commercial Jets, Hyperloop and Mars

Business Week has a lengthy feature on Elon Musk.

Elon Musks Hyperloop transportation system is discussed but there are still very few details.

His friends claim he’s had a Hyperloop technological breakthrough over the summer. “I’d like to talk to the governor and president about it,” Musk continues. “Because the $60 billion bullet train they’re proposing in California would be the slowest bullet train in the world at the highest cost per mile. They’re going for records in all the wrong ways.” The cost of the SF-LA Hyperloop would be in the $6 billion range, he says.

Musk is also planning to develop a new kind of airplane: “Boeing just took $20 billion and 10 years to improve the efficiency of their planes by 10 percent. That’s pretty lame. I have a design in mind for a vertical liftoff supersonic jet that would be a really big improvement.”

September 13, 2012

A slow shift from World War 2 Radar to GPS for US Air Traffic Control

WSJ - A high-tech overhaul to the nation's air traffic control system is mostly on track to completion, but has yet to produce the benefits that airlines and passengers were told to expect, federal investigators say. Progress in moving from preparation to execution has been slow as the Federal Aviation Administration replaces its World War II-era radar technology with a GPS-based system.

Lacking return on their investment, airlines are reluctant to continue making the multibillion-dollar equipment upgrades needed for the new system to work.

After years of delays and cost overruns, the FAA has improved its handling of the modernization program, known as NextGen, Scovel said. But the agency still hasn't established its overall costs or timeline.

By 2020, the new system is expected to reduce delays by 38 percent compared with the current system; airlines, passengers and taxpayers are estimated to save $24 billion.

The FAA plans to spend $2.4 billion over the next five years on a collection of six programs that the agency says will revolutionize air travel by moving from an outdated, radar-based system to one that uses satellite technology for precision tracking. The goal is to move planes faster and more efficiently by making routes more direct, eliminating many weather delays and enabling planes to fly safely at closer distances.

Once fully in place, the modernization program will save 1.4 billion gallons of fuel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 14 million metric tons.

Planes must be equipped with new technology, such as navigational equipment, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars per aircraft. NextGen, however, doesn't start yielding full benefits until a critical mass of planes have the new technology, so nobody wants to go first.

Most of the previous scrutiny of the modernization effort has focused on ERAM, the main computer system air traffic controllers will use to identify and track aircraft, except right before takeoff and landing. After a four-year delay and a cost overrun of $330 million, the computer system is up and running in nine cities and on track to be used in all sites by 2014.

But software glitches persist, including some that send data to the wrong aircraft. Those issues have had a domino effect, throwing off implementation of other NextGen elements that depend on the computer system and eating up FAA dollars intended for other functions.

September 12, 2012

China High Speed Rail Sufficiently Profitable for the New Expansions

Four of the nation’s 14 high-speed rail lines have been profitable eversince bullet trains started full-speed, intercity service in China two years ago, giving impetus to a Ministry of Railways expansion.

Passenger ticket revenues have so far matched expenses — including debt payments — for the busy Beijing-Tianjin, Shanghai-Nanjing, Beijing-Shanghai and Shanghai-Hangzhou lines, a source at the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) told Caixin.

The financial health of the Beijing-Shanghai line exceeded expectations during its first operating year, which ended in June.

September 06, 2012

Bakken Oil Rail Shipping Capacity increased to 1 millinon barrels per day

Bloomberg - Bakken oil traded at the most expensive compared with West Texas Intermediate in four months as Burlington Northern Santa Fe boosted crude rail shipping capacity for the grade to 1 million barrels a day.

This seems to suggest that railroad and oil companies are expecting the oil from North Dakota to increase 660,000 bpd to over 1.1 million bpd in 2013 and 2014.

The increase of more than 25 percent over the past year covers shipments of crude from the Bakken-producing Williston Basin region in North Dakota and Montana.

Bakken strengthened $4 to a premium of $1 above the U.S. benchmark at 3:54 p.m. in New York, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s the most expensive the graded has traded at since May 3.

Canadian oils also strengthened. Syncrude’s premium added $6.25 to $8.25 above WTI. Western Canada Select’s discount to West Texas Intermediate narrowed $4.50 to $11.50 a barrel.

CNBC - About 62 percent of Bakken crude is shipped out of the region by pipelines now, while about 25 percent currently goes by rail and the balance by truck. That ratio will fluctuate as there are major projects under way to add capacity for both rail and pipelines, but the pipeline work in particular will take years to complete, giving the railroads a leg up for now.

Eventually, it is hoped that TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline project, held up by the Obama administration on environmental concerns, will get done and a link to it from the Bakken will be finished and help alleviate the current bottleneck.