Category Archives: Transportation

GM seems to have killed the ignition switch by killing people?

Photo: Jeff_Golden
Photo: Jeff_Golden

General Motors is currently finding itself up digested food creek with no adequate means of propulsion due to what, in staying with a long US media tradition of tying any- and everything with Nixon’s sneak peek at stuff that wasn’t rightfully his to look at, has been called ‘Switchgate’

Thee case itself is deadly serious, literally deadly. So far 13 deaths have been linked to problems with the company’s ignition switch.

GM is in the process of recalling more than 2.5 million cars that could potentially have faulty ignition key systems.

The case has led Bloomberg to speculate whether this is the end of turning on cars as we know it – which has basically involved using a system that has been more or less antiquated since the 60s or 70s.

Now the story is quite serious, so will try and stay away from puns involving key questions, but it is worth noting that it has taken 13 deaths for one car company to think about abandoning an antiquated model of just turning on a vehicle.

Any bets on how long it would take the big car companies to really turn towards electrical vehicles and/or autonomous vehicles?

You (soon no longer) need to turn off electronic equipment during take off and landing

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The image of stewards and stewardesses patrolling the aisles of an aircraft like zealous Amish converts, telling you to switch off all electronic equipment might soon be a thing of the past, thank God.

At least in the US, that is.

The Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, are contemplating lifting the ban on using electronic equipment during take off and landing. The ban, known as an irritant to most flyers, has been in place because airlines have suspected electronic equipment of causing malfunctions in cockpit instruments. However, this has never been proved.

NASA crashes something and gets to cheer about it

NASA scientists recently had the novel experience of getting to crash a piece of multi-million dollar equipment – and then cheer about the fact that they had just crashes a multi-million dollar piece of equipment.

The precious piece of equipment was a CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter, and the purpose of the crash was to test the helicopter’s crashworthiness – a word that I would guess usually leaves NASA scientists with nervous ticks.

Nissan plans to sell self-driving cars by 2020

Car manufacturer Nissan is putting its autonomous cars where its mouth is…wait, that would really hurt…OK, let’s put it this way: the Japanese car company is making a bold promise of selling self-driving cars by 2020.

Actually, Nissan says it’ll be selling multiple self-driving models at what the company refers to as ‘realistic prices for consumers’. It doesn’t specify which comsumers it’s talking about, so that’s an automatic (or should that be automated) get out of jail free card right there.

Self-driving cars use various technologies to constantly monitor their surroundings in order to guide themselves. Basically, this means that they can react to potential dangerous situations without the need for human intervention. As computers are faster than your fingers, the idea is that this will mean fewer accidents on the roads.

Electric car maker plans own super speed changing stations

Tesla, the makers of some of the most popular electric cars going, are set to break into new territory with a recent announcement that they company will build a series of quick change stations, where owners of their vehicles can get a run down battery exchanged for a fully charged one in less time than it would probably take you to change the batteries in your child’s remote controlled car.

Sounds cool, and looks cool in the video on this website.

Chinese get ready to build alternative Panama Canal

A Chinese company has been chosen by the government of Nicaragua as the contractors for a project that will eventually end up with the country – and the rest of the sailing world – having an alternative to the Panama Canal.

The project will cost a staggering £26 billion, and the canal will be 22 metres deep and 286 km (178 miles) long – that’s bigger than both the Panama and Suez canal.

Although the name of the Chinese company has not yet been revealed, the project is a blow to a) Panama, and b) the US, who have controlled the Panama Canal, and through that most shipping traffic between the Atlantic and the Pacific.

Let fly the drones of…anti-grafitti?

Deutsche Bahn, the German national rail service, are planning on testing drones to see if the autonomous flying vehicles can help lower the number of incidences where their property is hit by grafitti-artists. And people just equipped with spraycans and a massively inflacted idea of their street art potential.

According to a spokesman for Deutsche Bahn, the drones will take to the air ‘soon’.

Cleaning away grafitti supposedly costs the company around $10 million every year.

Tesla pays back $451 million – nine years ahead of time

The electric car maker Tesla has said thank you very much for the loan to the US Government and repaid the entire $451.8 million loan – nine years ahead of the payment plan.

“Following this payment, Tesla will be the only American car company to have fully repaid the government,” Tesla said in a press release.

How’s that for rubbing the other car makers’ noses in it?

The news is likely to send Tesla’s stocks rising still higher, after the company has seen their market price double in the last 12 months.

US state introduces anti-Tesla legislation

North Carolina has introduced new legislation effectively aimed at the makers of electric cars, Tesla.

The state has introduced legislation that prohibits car manufacturers from selling their cars directly to consumers, with the bill’s sponsor, state Senator Tom Apodaca, Republican, saying that it will prevent unfair competition between manufacturers and dealers – giving a new take on how one can define a free market…

As Tesla is the only manufacturer to sell their cars directly to the end user, the bill is also a jab in the face of electric cars from the state which last year banned predictions about rising sea levels.