Archive: Technology review & news

24 September
What do GPS users say about driving and traffic safety?

What do GPS users say about driving and traffic safety?

What do GPS users say about driving and traffic safety?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research was commissioned by TomTom and conducted recently in the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the US and provides valuable insight on the importance of GPS for road safety.

The key findings of the research were as follows:

• The use of satellite navigation devices heightens awareness and reduces the stress levels of the driver
• The use of navigation devices reduces the driver’s workload*
• The use of a satellite navigation device improves the driver’s behaviour when driving through an unknown area to an unknown destination
• The use of a satellite navigation device reduces the number of miles driven when driving through an unknown area to an unknown destination
• The use of satellite navigation devices reduces travel time when driving through an unknown area to an unknown destination

“TomTom has consistently led the market with innovative safety features such as hands-free calling, the Help Me! emergency menu and clear spoken instructions in our navigation devices,” said Harold Goddijn, CEO of TomTom. “We are pleased to see objective research further validate the fact that navigation contributes to driving safety and efficiency. Furthermore, the study shows that using a navigation device – compared to navigation by conventional means – reduces the number of miles that people drive when travelling through an unknown area to an unknown destination, which in turn has a positive effect on the environment and fuel costs.”

The Arrive Alive road safety website has included these findings in a section titled “GPS and road safety”. These findings are of special importance as South Africa gears up for the 2010 World Cup. Many foreigners will travel across South Africa for the first time - and GPS devices could enhance the safety of their travels!

07 March
Subaru Boxer Diesel, we’ve been expecting you

Subaru Boxer Turbo Diesel engine

There’s good business in the diesel market and Subaru can’t stay on the side anymore. They decided to show off their first diesel engine during the 78th Auto Show in Geneva this week. It’s a 2.0L turbo diesel boxer engine and the Europeans are the lucky bastards to get it in Legacy / Outback models, sooner than everyone else.

Since diesel is more about torque than horse power, I’m not really happy with those 100kW at 3,600 rpm, but thanks to a variable turbo charger it has 350 Nm of torque from 1,800 rpm.

“The Subaru Boxer Diesel is mated with Subaru’s unique symmetrical AWD (All-Wheel-Drive) to achieve driving performance standards only Subaru is capable of. These standards include high-level stability and outstanding acceleration thanks to powerful low- and medium-speed torque.
On top of this, the two models adopt new electric power steering to achieve both improved fuel efficiency and fun to drive. They not only comply with the Euro 4 emission regulations, but realize top-level fuel economy for AWD passenger vehicles, thereby integrating driving performance into the environment.” they said in a press release.

via WCF

06 December
Who can receive car insurance discounts and why @ lv.com

LV.comIf you’re like me and do almost (don’t laugh guys :)) everything online then I am sure you searched, at least once, for car insurance quotes on the internet. The results may have been disappointing or great I can’t tell, but I am sure you will after I tell you more about LV.com.

LV.com or Liverpool Victoria, is one of the biggest insurance and financial services company in the United Kingdom. These guys made a promise to find you the best insurance quotes for your car and I think they manage to do it pretty well. A lot of insurers may not tell that you are entitled to receive discount car insurance just because they want to get the most off your pocket.

This is not going to happen with LV.com because over 50s car insurance is cheaper with them. The reasons are older people are much more attentive, don’t get as many speeding tickets as the young and drive a lot less miles.

Womens car insurance is another category that gets discounted rates. We all know men cause more accidents on the roads, than women so this is just one reason why they get it. As a verdict, even if you’re not over 50s or a woman I advise you to give it a go with LV.com and see if you can qualify for anything cheaper.

10 July
Plastic rims becoming a reality

plastic_wheel.jpg

Weight saving is becoming a very crucial factor for today’s performance cars. Just as manufacturers are trying to squeeze out that extra kilowatt, at the same time they are also trying to shed that extra kilogram. It is quite common for super cars to use carbon fibre body panels to reduce weight and this has been slowly making its way to normal road cars such as the new 2008 BMW M3 which will have a carbon fibre roof. Even AMG boasts using 19 inch alloy rims for their Black Series CLK63 that just barely weighs 11kg each, which is about 3kg lighter than the CLK63’s standard wheels. Read the rest of this entry »

10 January
Anyone up for offroad?

Wheels

So whats after chrome wheeels? Do you travel where there are no roads? Introducing the Tankpedition - an example of the rubber track conversion system by Mattracks.

The conversion can take “as little as 30 minutes”. For me, it took only 30 seconds. I’m in love…finally geeks have ruined the car world, too. We have no idea what the product costs, but trust me, it’s worth every penny. Going off road has a all new meaning. On top of that next time a taxi cuts you off in the road you can cut them to size! Not sure if this add on will reach our shores!

01 November
Nokia AEON Concept

We all love touchscreens. We just can’t help ourselves. We touch, stroke, and then do some more touching.

Nokia have released news of a new concept cellphone, called “Aeon”. I hope I’m not the only one who immediately thinks of a very tight clad Charlize Theron when I hear that word. But I digress.

The new Nokia Aeon concept phone, is an entire touchscreen. Including a touchscreen keypad. It also looks remarkably thin - so thin that I would seriously worry about snapping it in half if I sat down with it positioned wrong in my pocket.

Read the rest of this entry »

10 October
rAge Expo 2006!

“rAge. Coca Cola Dome. Be there!”

Thats the words uttered to me before I got handed my Press Passes to this event. I looked down at these 2 red swing tags, with a bold PRESS written all over it.

“Err, ok” I stammer. Being a Capetonian, I dont know what this ‘rAge’ is all about. I pop onto their website quickly to check out what its all about.

“The ultimate computer, gaming and technology expo! Now with 60% more floor space!”

“Thats great”, I think to myself. But is it going to be any good? I’ve been to several Computer things in Cape Town, and while they were informative, and nice to go to on a boring Saturday afternoon. But was this to be something extraordinary? Seeing as I AM in Jozi, where everything is surposed to be bigger and better.

Read the rest of this entry »

07 September
Blow-off valve functioning and installation

Today in the Atomic Labs we’ll be going through the installation of an atmospheric blow-off valve (BOV). So what, exactly, is this valve thingy and what does it do?

On a turbocharged engine, when the turbo spools up it pressurises the intake system - from the compressor, past the throttle body and through the inlet manifold, forcing more air into the combustion chambers. This is how a turbo produces more power, but I’ll go into the specifics in a later article.

When you take your foot off the accelerator pedal, the throttle body closes - the stream of pressurised air created by the turbocharger is now cut off from the inlet manifold. The only way it can escape is back up the intake stream, surging into the turbo compressor. This reversal of intake charge pulse can put additional strain on the turbo components, as well as reducing the compressor wheel’s rotational velocity. This means that the turbo will take longer to spool up when the throttle is opened again.

A valve placed before the throttle body cures this problem by allowing the pressurised charge to escape the intake system, keeping the compressor spinning and reducing turbo lag. I won’t go into the specific details of how the valve opens when needed, but if you want to know more then email me. Many turbocharged cars come with such a valve from the factory, but they are recirculator valves rather than BOVs - the compressed air that escapes is plumbed back into the intake before the turbo. BOVs vent this air to the atmosphere instead.

So why install an aftermarket BOV? They provide improved throttle response and can hold much higher boost levels compared to the factory-fitted version, and as a bonus because they vent to the atmosphere they provide that sought-after “psssht” sound when shifting gear or free-revving. Plus they look damn cool, if that’s your thing. Read the rest of this entry »

16 August
Nitrous & how it works

Say the words “nitrous oxide”.

Some people will think of jabbing a button and leaving your spleen behind as massive acceleration shoves you back into your seat. Others will think of shattered con rods, mangled pistons and huge repair bills. (Some might even think of yellow balloons and laughing fits, but that’s for another blog.) Here at the Atomic Labs we just love the stuff.

Blue bottle yumminessNitrous oxide (N2O) was discovered by Joseph Priestley in 1772, and in the 1790s Humphrey Davy tested the gas on himself and some of his friends (hmm, what’s this stuff? I know, let’s sniff it…). The first practical application of N2O was as a medical anaesthetic and painkiller. The German Luftwaffe experimented with nitrous engine injection in World War II, which allowed their planes to fly higher than previously possible. But with the advent of jet engines, the project was shelved. After some stop-start forays into motorsport, nitrous became mainstream in 1978 with the formation of Nitrous Oxide Systems Inc.

Enough history. So how does it work? First off, nitrous is not the engine-destroying monster as many people believe. When installed properly and used sensibly, there is little or no engine degradation. And by itself, nitrous oxide is *not* flammable or explosive. That scene in The Fast and The Furious when the car explodes in greenish flames is Hollywood crap.

Read the rest of this entry »

14 August
Bounce Up and Down for Angles Galore!


Now you can go to a car race and see and hear just about everything that’s going on with Kangaroo TV, a handheld device that can stream 10 live MPEG4 video channels along with audio feeds and data. It’s being rolled out first at racetracks, where fans like to hear the radio chatter between pit crews and drivers, as well as keep tabs on the leader board and see sections of the track that aren’t visible from the grandstand. Using Kangaroo TV, they can receive multiple streams of data while choosing between various camera angles, including in-car views.

Montreal-based Kangaroo TV rents out these units for $50 a day or $70 for a weekend at NASCAR races, where the product is branded NASCAR Nextel FanView. The units are also being rented at Formula One races and the Champ Car series. The company has plans to expand its service into other sports where spectators need to see multiple locations to tell what’s going on, such as skiing and golf, and also plans to cover basketball, football, baseball and many other sports.

I think it’s amazing!!!

06 August
Exhaust mufflers muffled further?

Treachery is afoot in the realm of soul-stirring engine tones…

In future, this might just be for show

Car noise regulations are nothing new, with most countries having their own requisite decibel (dB) level limits. Sound levels have always been a major consideration for high-performance manufacturers like Ferrari, Aston Martin, Pagani, etc, but so far they’ve managed to attain a balance between practical quietness and phenomenal high-rev roar. Anyone who has been in (or near) any of these cars in full flight will know exactly what I mean

Decibel measurement criteria vary from government to government, but in many cases the tests are done at low engine speeds, with the throttle only partially open. This allows manufacturers to get away with an exhaust valve system - at low revs, gases are diverted through a silencer, providing a nice quiet (and legal) ride. When you nail the throttle, the valve bypasses much of the silencer, and the engine can unleash it’s intended howl.

However, this sneaky approach may soon be threatened. There is a sub-sub-sub-division of the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council called the Working Party on Noise, and they want a new homologated noise testing standard to be imposed across all UN participating countries. This new test would involve measuring dBs under various driving styles, not just a slow progress through the gears. Included in the new standard is a ban on ‘defeat devices’ such as exhaust valves and baffles. Bad news for glorious, spirited engines.

There is already a precedent - in 2002 the UN decided that all new motorbike models should have daytime running lights, and a couple of days later it was law. In the USA, a consortium made up of the World Health Organisation, the UN Working Party on Noise, and the American Motorcycle Association is currently aiming for a worldwide standard for bike exhaust noise too.

Europe generally takes the UN very seriously, and no prizes for guessing where most of the world’s noisiest (and best) supercars are made…

What I don’t get is how anyone decides that the elation-inducing thunder of a V12 is a bad thing.

The proposal calls for a limit of 74 dB for passenger cars (and 80 dB for motorcycles). To put things into perspective, this sound level is equivalent to a vacuum cleaner or hair drier. Do you want your adrenaline-pumping sublimely-engineered automobile to sound like a home appliance?

Technologically, it’s not a major problem - the regulations won’t affect power output much. But the rich, evocative exhaust note of the supercars we love so much will be a thing of the past. All in an effort to further standardise our existence into dull, plastic mediocrity.

Whether this regulation is actually imposed remains to be seen. However, I’m hopeful that even if it does come to pass, the aftermarket parts industry will compensate accordingly, and undo the damage done to the driving spirit of these fine machines.

tachyon (at) carblog (dot) co (dot) za

(C) 2006

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