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Friday
Oct212016

A Drop in the Buckets

Over the past five years, Ford Motor Company has recycled over nine tons of modeling clay, with 5,070 lb. recycled last year alone. That five-year total is enough to build a dozen full-size clay model car exteriors, while last year’s total would be enough to do almost three full-size clays of the Raptor.

Modeling clay, which isn’t clay at all, is made up of waxes and oil with filler, and does not contain water like traditional ceramic clay. Until the early 2000s, it also contained sulfur, though that escaped from the mix when heated to a temperature that made the clay malleable. When it did, it wreaked havoc on electronics, causing numerous malfunctions in milling and other machines. And, until whale hunting was banned, it also used to contain whale blubber.

Most of the recovered clay comes when milling machines follow math data to create the vehicle’s silhouette. These chips are collected in blue bins that surround the model and recycled. Because impurities can have a massive effect on the finish of the model, only the chips collected in the blue bins are reused. All the rest (Ford uses about 90 tons of modeling clay each year) is discarded.

The  clay recycling machine uses multiple blades to compress and churn the clay chips. This removes any air pockets that might be trapped within the material. It is then pushed through a heated nozzle that returns the clay to a malleable consistency, and columns are extruded and stacked for reuse. — CAS

Friday
Sep092016

Preventing Motion Sickness in Autonomous Vehicles

One of the problems engineers are going to have to contend with when it comes to autonomous vehicles is motion sickness. Especially if the “driver” and passengers are engaged in reading, surfing the Internet, catching up on work or any other activity that separates their attention from the world outside the car.

Because motion sickness is triggered when the images we see are not in sync with the motions that we feel or even expect to feel, some researchers are predicting that up to 12% of Americans traveling in autonomous vehicles will succumb to motion sickness at some point during their travels. Doing things other than looking through the windshield or side windows will only exacerbate this problem. This disconnect between what we are looking at and feeling is one of the main triggers for queasiness in vehicles.

Ansible Motion, a U.K. maker of driving simulators, is giving automakers the opportunity to test different components and driving conditions in a virtual environment to determine which combinations mitigate motion sickness the best. And that is best done by determining how to induce it deliberately and in a repeatable manner, then exploring the level of sensitivity while people are engaged in different tasks inside a car. By doing so, researchers hope to discover how the shape of widows, ride motions, color and other stimuli affect riders, and help automakers get a jump on eradicating the illness-inducing items before the first prototype is ever built or the final design is signed off. — CAS

Friday
Sep092016

40 Years of Five Cylinders

By Christopher A. Sawyer

In 1976, Audi launched the Type 43 Audi 100 sedan with something that had been tried and tested but never produced: a five-cylinder inline automobile engine. (Henry Ford toyed with the idea in the 1930s, but the design’s unbalanced firing order and the consumer desire for more power ended that project, though Ford investigated overhead cam/aluminum block and head versions up until his death. Lancia, on the other hand, produced five-cylinder engines during World War II, but only for trucks.) Because the 100 was moving upmarket at the time, Audi wanted to offer more than a four-cylinder engine under the hood. Even if that inline motor was the VW Group’s economical and powerful new EA 827.

Building on this base, company engineers investigated both five- and six-cylinder inline engines; discarding the six when it became apparent that it would require a longer front end, and adversely affect handling. Thus, work proceeded on the five-cylinder variant, with the 2.1-liter fuel injected motor debuting in the Audi 100 with 134 horsepower. Buyers also could order the EA 827 four-cylinder, the same engine used in the smaller Audi 80.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Aug262016

Infiniti VC-T

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. This is one of those occasions. Infiniti's turbocharged inline four-cylinder with variable compression ratio will debut in production-ready form at the Paris Motor Show.

Click to enlarge.

Friday
Aug122016

A Return to Rotary Dampers?

If you own an old British sports car, you may be familiar with lever-arm rotary dampers. These shock absorbers did an okay job, but did not have the broadband control of today’s upright hydraulic telescopic dampers. So why would Audi be looking at replacing today’s design with one from the past? Two words: energy recuperation.

Audi calls the prototype eROT. In it a lever arm absorbs the motion of the wheel hub, and transfers it by means of a series of gears to an electric motor that turns this motion into electrical energy. Audi says the average recuperation output is 100 to 150 watts on German roads. This varies from three watts on a freshly paved surface to 613 watts on a rough secondary road. Central to this system is a high-output 48-volt electrical system that is connected to the car’s 12-volt electrical system by a DC converter. A lithium-ion battery with an energy capacity of 0.5 kWh and peak output of 13 kilowatts stores and releases the energy produced by the dampers.

That output is needed because eROT is an active suspension that decouples the compression and rebound strokes, and uses the recovered energy to control wheel movement. This, Audi claims, increases the functional scope of damper control, which is freely definable via software. Thus, the compression stroke can be kept comfortably soft while the rebound stroke is taut. And, with the high system output, real-time millisecond control of wheel travel can be achieved.

In addition, because the electromechanical dampers package horizontally and are physically connected to the wheel at the lowest point of the hub carrier, the space reserved for conventional upright telescopic dampers can be eliminated, and the new design packaged behind the rear axle line. Similarly, a front eROT unit would take the place of a suspension lower arm. — CAS