The Chevy Volt is taking aim at the green market. Not only did it nab the 2010 green car of the year award, but it’s also helping to clean up the mess that big oil company BP made in the Gulf of Mexico.
GM is recycling 10,000 pounds of oil-soaked booms from the gulf into parts for the Volt. Instead of sending the booms to landfills, their absorbent polypropylene (which bears plastic-recycling #5) filler will be cleaned and recycled, GM said in the press release:
“This was purely a matter of helping out,” said John Bradburn, manager of GM’s waste-reduction efforts. “If sent to a landfill, these materials would have taken hundreds of years to begin to break down, and we didn’t want to see the spill further impact the environment. We knew we could identify a beneficial reuse of this material given our experience.”
While this contraption looks similar to a doggy wheelchair or a pair of prosthetic legs for your favorite pet, it’s actually much more sophisticated. This rat is hooked up to a prototype of a thought-guided robot wheelchair.
The robot-rat setup, known as Ratcar, is guided by transmissions from the rat through mini-electrodes implanted in its brain.
“We wanted to develop a brain-machine interface system aiming for future wheelchairs that paralyzed patients can control only with thought,” says Osamu Fukayama of the university’s Medical Engineering and Life Science Laboratory. “RatCar is a simplified prototype to develop better electrodes, devices, and algorithms for those systems.”
Is there anything that will make people stop speeding for good? Transport of London has come up with a new technology that they hope will do the trick—both to stop speeding and reduce accidents. It’s called Intelligent Speed Adaptation, and it’s a program installed in cars as a kind of auto big brother: If the car is going too fast, the computer will automatically reduce the speed.
This summer, a total of twenty vehicles, including cars, buses, and cabs, will be testing the new software. Each vehicle will receive a monitor that displays a digital map of the city, corresponding speed limits, and a GPS system, so the program can calculate how fast the car should be going based on its real-time location.