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Honda unveils self-driving car in Detroit

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Honda unveils self-driving car in Detroit

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Honda is the latest company to show of its self-driving car. The car maker is working on technology that allows vehicles to drive themselves, they are automatically able to signal and change lanes.

The prototype car - an Acura RLX Sedan - uses long-range and medium-range radar, a stereo camera and a scanning laser to sense the surroundings.

Eric Blumbergs, Honda’s Senior Engineer, said: “It is not a driverless car. A driver has to be in the driver’s seat and has to engage the system. And the driver has to be available to re-engage when the system’s completed its function.”

During a test on the roads of Detroit, the car’s driver took his hands off the wheel as it entered the freeway. The vehicle automatically accelerated to the speed limit and applied the brakes if it got too close to a car in front of it. When it needed to change lanes, it signalled and waited for an opening.

“We have a goal of zero crashes eventually, and we also have a goal of safety for everyone. We believe this technology can help us achieve those goals (and) give the driver a stress-free and safe driver experience,” Eric Blumbergs added.

Honda has been working on this prototype car in Japan for about a year, but it is the result of decades of safety research.

The electric car has long been heralded as the future of the motor industry, set to replace the traditional internal combustion machines, but the technology and infrastructure is lacking.

Experts at Imperial College London believe that wireless electric cars charging technology is not far away. And it is not only cars that could benefit, but other devices too.

Paul Mitcheson, reader in Electrical Energy Conversion at Imperial College London, said: “The idea of wireless charging in vehicles really captures people’s imagination. But the idea of maybe charging medical devices is a key aspect where this technology can really have significant impact. And also things like charging your phone in your pocket. These things are not easy to do, but they are possible with this sort of technology.”

How does this technology work?

The phenomenon of electromagnetic induction was discovered by British physicist Michael Faraday in 1831. He found that when two coils were placed close to each other and power applied to one of them, it produced a magnetic field, which then induced a voltage across the second coil.

The so-called “near-field charging technology” can transfer up to 1.5 kilowatts over a distance of up to 0.5 miles using a lightweight receiver, while its long distance power transfer system can transfer up to 10 megawatts at distances up to five miles. Both operate at over 80 percent efficiency.

“We’ve got a transmitter, which transmits energy to this receive coil which picks up this energy and can then power various devices like laptops, mobile phones, or even electric cars,” explained David Yates, a research fellow at Imperial College London’s Control and Power Research Group.

The system will soon be tested on high-speed electric racing cars.

Go anywhere robot

In a completely different, but equally innovative, development scientists have come up with a road-using robot that can survive being run over by a car.

This flexible robot with rubber-like properties can withstand extreme conditions. It has been created by researchers at Cornell and Harvard universities in the United States

Its designers say it could lead to a new generation of robots for use in search and rescue missions. The 65-centimetre-long robot has no rigid skeleton and is made of a combination of materials including silicon and carbon.

The robot is powered by an electric air compressor system and has been tested walking through flames and in sub-zero temperatures. A battery pack allows it to function for up to two hours.

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