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Wednesday
Jul292015

Organic LEDs Get Closer to Production

At the Frankfurt Motor Show this year, Audi will reveal Matrix OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) lights on a concept car. It is the first step toward production of a technology that has been proposed for everything from laptop screens to television sets.

Each OLED unit has two electrodes — at least one of which must be transparent — and multiple thin layers of organic semiconductor material. Each layer is less than one-thousandth of a millimeter thick, and needs just three to four volts DC to create light. The composition of the layer determines its color, and — unlike conventional crystal-based LEDs — each layer is flat and has sharply delineated edges. Dimming is continuously variable, and the color and light are spread homogeneously across each layer. Thus, OLED lights do not need reflectors, light guides or other optical hardware, and do not cast shadows. In addition, they run cooler than current LED lights.

Over time, OLEDs will jettison the thin glass sheets that encase the organic material for flexible plastic films. Not only will it be possible to form these into three-dimensional shapes more easily, it may be possible to create OLED displays that are deployed and retracted like roller blinds. Also, because they react quickly and can be divided into small segments with each segment’s illumination level controlled separately, it will be possible to create active lighting systems that quickly adapt to changing conditions.— CAS


Friday
Jul172015

Autonomous Tech for Next Mercedes E-Class

By Christopher A. Sawyer

Next spring, Mercedes will launch a new E-Class with a suite of new safety and semi-autonomous driving technology. According to Mercedes these driver assistance packages will allow semi-automated driving on freeways, highways and in city traffic, enable drivers to move the car in and out of tight parking spaces from outside via a smartphone app, and encourage autonomous braking in dangerous situations. So-called Car-to-X Communication will provide an early warning of dangers ahead, while radio technology turns the driver’s smartphone into a vehicle key. In addition, Pre-Safe advancements will protect the occupants in a  side impact and even prepare their ears for the loud noise of the accident. Mercedes calls its approach “Real Life Safety” and will sell it under its Intelligent Drive brand.

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Friday
Jul032015

New Ecotec Engine Powers 2016 Chevy Cruze

The 2016 Chevy Cruze will debut a new Ecotec four-cylinder, a new member of GM’s modular small-displacement engine family. Displacing 1.4 liters, the turbocharged, direct-injected inline four produces 153 hp and 177 lb.-ft. of torque, and is mated to either a six-speed manual or GM’s new Hydra-Matic 6T35 six-speed automatic transmission. Stop-start technology is standard with the automatic.

In many markets, the 1.4-liter will be offered alongside a naturally aspirated 1.5-liter Ecotec with 113 hp and 108 lb.-ft. of torque mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. Both engines share bore spacing, bore diameter, liner and other dimensions with each other and GM’s three-cylinder Ecotec engines. All feature a high-pressure die-cast aluminum block with cast-in-place liners, a die-cast aluminum oil pan, and an aluminum bedplate for increased rigidity. The aluminum dual overhead cam (DOHC) cylinder head has an integrated water-cooled exhaust manifold that improves catalyst light-off and reduces weight. Further attributes include a variable-flow oil pump, piston-cooling jets, and a noise reducing inverted-tooth camshaft drive chain.

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Friday
Jul032015

Danger Will Robinson!

By Christopher A. Sawyer

Automatic Emergency Braking will be the first automated system offered by automakers. In the near future, all new cars will require AEB in order to get a Five Star safety rating, and will build upon this system.Are autonomous vehicle the Holy Grail of automotive safety? Both the media and Wall Street have focused on the autonomous future, suggesting driverless cars are not only just around the corner, they will dramatically reduce, if not eliminate, vehicle crashes and force wide-spread global adoption of this technology. They claim injury and death rates will plummet, as will insurance costs, and automakers will be able to make their vehicles less “battle hardened” for the simple reason that they are unlikely to crash during their lifetime. Further, in a future straight out of the movie Demolition Man, you will be able to choose between autonomous and non-autonomous driving on the fly, and turn the family car from a transportation device to a rolling office or conversation pit. “At times I think some of the media coverage has gotten well ahead of reality,” says Brian Loh, ZF TRW’s Vice President, Active Safety and Automated Driving, in a quote dripping with understatement. “We are way far away from where you could start taking passive safety out of a vehicle.”

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Friday
Jul032015

Paging Marty McFly…

Behind the scenes, Lexus has been working with experts in super conductivity to create a working Hoverboard as part of the brand’s Amazing in Motion campaign that is designed to show a commitment to advanced design and technology.

To give the Hoverboard frictionless movement, the Lexus project team turned to magnetic levitation via liquid nitrogen-cooled superconductors and permanent magnets. That said, it has tried to infuse the device with Lexus design cues, including the spindle grille, and bamboo trim sits alongside more high tech materials.

Currently, the prototype is undergoing testing in Barcelona, Spain prior to the launch of the Lexus Amazing in Motion campaign this summer. You can follow the project on Twitter by using the #LexusHover and #AmazinginMotion  hashtags. — CAS