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Car of the future strips bare, easier 3D scanning for culture and criminals

Car of the future strips bare, easier 3D scanning for culture and criminals
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Silent, ultralight and energy-efficient – the developers of this car of the future claim it can cover a distance of up 3,000 kilometres on just one tank, driving at 30 kilometres an hour.

The goal? To meet the demands of the Shell Eco-marathon Challenge Europe, where teams from universities all over Europe compete to find out who has developped the most energy-efficient vehicle.

After the Aeris and the Proton, the University Team at Trier in Germany is working on a new challenge: the Protron Evolution, made for everyday use at an affordable price.

“The latest project is the development of a vehicle fit for the road, ready for mass production, which will have four seats and consume less than one litre per 100 km. And this vehicle is breaking new ground in the overall concept. Of course, it will also have reduced air resistance and reduced rolling resistance. But it will be extremely light, significantly lighter than vehicles you see today,” explained the team supervisor at Trier University, Hartmut Zoppke.

In order for it to be fit for mass-production, no exotic materials can be used that would raise the cost of the vehicle. If it were to hit the road, The Protron Evolution would cost between 10,000 and 15,000 euros.

In order to achieve this, its weight must be radically cut.

“Reducing the weight is the easiest way to bring down fuel consumption. That can be achieved by using very light materials. But most of all, the vehicle must be stripped of anything that doesn’t not actually belong to the car,” says Hartmut Zoppke.

The team is working on reducing the car’s weight by gradually replacing parts of the bodyshell without altering the vehicle’s aerodynamics or safety features. When stripped of its extra kilos, it’s hoped the low-consumption vehicle will be able to reach a maximum speed of 90 kilometres per hour.

New scanner brings new insight for culture vultures and courts

Italy’s famous Pisa Tower is baring its beauty in a way never before seen, through pictures taken with a brand new, special kind of scanner.

The Zebedee scanner is the brainchild of a team of researchers at Australia’s national science agency. Using an infrared laser to measure distances, the head of the scanner bounces back and forth, recording millions of points in space.

Until recently, creating that kind of detailed 3D image of a complex space would have required days of work. Now pictures can be generated in less than 10 minutes.

“In traditional 3D scanning, tripods are set up and 3D scanners are put on top of the tripods so you can only scan what you see from that location. So, if you want to scan a very complicated area, you need to move the tripod to various locations and then stitch the data back together. What Zebedee allows you to do is walk through a scene, walk up stairs, walk in small places and map continuously,” explained Jonathan Roberts, CSIRO Research Programme leader for Autonomous Sytems.

While its developers hope the device will be used to map major cultural sites that were previously difficult to access, it can also be used by police to map a crime scene. The scanner reduces the risk of contamination of the site and produces quicker results.

“We would hope that one day we could get into court with a 3D model of a crime scene, so that we can move around that scene and people can understand what they want to look at. And it’s not necessarily photographic, but it gives a good idea to the jurors of the layout of the environment,” says Sergeant Kylie Blunsom.

And it is not just useful for violent crime scenes: the precision of the measurements recorded by this kind of scanner can come in handy in traffic accident investigations, when precise analysis can be crucial to tell who is to blame for a crash.