mapme

•December 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Project mapme was created to explore an alternative instruction delivery method for a Portable Navigation Device.  The goal of this project is to complement instructions provided by GPS units with use of landmark associations.

TechPost #3

•April 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The Future of Automobiles

TechPost #3 focuses on passenger cars technology and is written from a perspective in year 2029 looking back at the milestones that led to the final version of the technology.

Introduction

The technological advancement in automobiles have evolved rapidly since its first conception by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot in 1769 (Library of Congress, 2009).  The development of the assembly line led to the ability to produce cars on a massive scale.  Efficiency, safety, comfort, and in-car technology are only some of the advancement in the auto industry that have taken place over the years.  Contrary to what people believed 30 years ago, cars today are still road going vehicles, not an air / ground hybrid.  Which meant that a future with flying cars was never realized.  Automobiles today virtually emits no pollution.  Exhaust so clean, cars no longer contribute to global warming.  There were two crucial technological milestone in the history of modern automobiles.  The first milestone took place in 2015 and the second milestone took place five years later in 2020.  This year, nine years later from the second milestone, we witnessed a third milestone in the automotive industry.

First Milestone (2015)

The first milestone in modern car history was set in the year 2015 when engineers at the VAG (Volkswagen Auto Group) developed a new type of exhaust fluid (Loss, 2015).  The idea worked on a similar technology developed years ago for the diesel engine.  In the case of the diesel engine, a urea solution is injected to the exhaust.  This was the technology that allowed for a 50 state legal diesel car.  Engineers from Volkswagen Group developed a special solution called LiquiClear™ that uses chemical catalysers to decompose exhaust emission.  LiquiClear™ was a revolutionary product in the automotive development because unlike its diesel urea fluid counterpart, LiquiClear™ eliminates 100% of the emission (Loss, 2015).  Although, it was a successful product in eliminating emission in vehicles, it did not address our dependency on fossil fuels.  In the same year,  four German automakers collaborated to create an ultra efficient internal combustion engine powered by an alternative renewable fuel.  Electric and Fuel Cell vehicles development ceased around 2010 due to reliability issues and environmental concerns regarding disposal of batteries.  The most prominent reason of the lack of popularity and demand on electric cars is the lack of an engine feel.  Driving an electric car yields an “austere feeling” to the driver as there is no “sense of a mechanical build-up” (Woods, 2013).

Second Milestone (2020)

The five year long research collaboration of the four German automakers finally bore fruit in 2020.  The collaboration also resulted in new partnerships with fuel refineries for developing renewable alternative fuel.  Shell, Chevron, and Esso established a new rapidly renewable alternative fuel called NET™ (Clarkson, 2020).  With the NET™, LiquiClear™, and the new line of ultra efficient internal combustion engines, efficiency has reached its maximum potential and emissions became the word of the past.  To help embrace the new technology, government offered incentives and tax credits to buyers of the new line of vehicle.  With no emissions to worry about, the automobile technology was believed to be at a mature stage.  However,  during the 10 years of heavy engine and fuel developments, automakers seemed to have forgotten the case for safety.

Final version

In Q1 2029, Volvo addressed the safety issue by pioneering a real time autopilot assistance technology called AVT™ (Autopilot Vehicle Technology).  This technology offers an automatic autopilot assistance in various conditions.  AVT™ became the standard for autopilot systems used by all automakers.  Cars equipped with AVT™ employ sensors around the vehicle and proximity communication with other vehicles within 2km radius (Volvo Cars, 2029).  AVT™ can be used as a part-time intervention system or a full-time autopilot function, but it is a non-defeatable system, meaning that it is never fully deactivated.  In part-time mode, the system will only activate if an imminent collision is bound to happen.  The system will warn surrounding vehicles and employ a “calculated evasive manoeuvre” to completely avoid collision or at the very least, minimize damage on impact (Volvo Cars, 2029).  All this is done without driver input, as AVT™ will take full control of the car on those conditions.  The full-time mode can be used for a full autopilot control.  The car that “drives itself” was finally “possible through AVT™” (Teng, 2029).  In fact, AVT™ was incredibly effective that the system alone reduced the number of automotive accidents by 90%.  AVT™ was unanimously awarded the “Best New Technology of The Decade” by auto journalists all around the world on July 2029(Teng, 2029).  By September 2029, the World Highway Safety Institute released a law that required AVT™ on all new cars produced after 2029.

Conclusion

Automobile has undergone a giant leap forward in efficiency and safety since its first conception.  The introduction of new of emission regulations and depleting fossil fuel reserve forced manufacturers to attempt the impossible.  LiquiClear™, NET™, and the new line of ultra efficient internal combustion engines  solved the emission problem while still providing “the feel of a traditional gasoline engine” (Teng, 2029).  Safety also improved significantly due to the invention of AVT™.  Although so much have changed in the technology concerning the automobile, it is amazing to see that the sole purpose of an automobile did not change.  It continues to serve as a mean of personal transportation.

References:

Library of Congress.  (2009).  Who Invented the Automobile?.  Retrieved April 7, 2010, from

http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/auto.html

Loss M. (2015).  Top Gear Magazine: Emission Free Car Generation.  London: Top Gear

Publishing.

Woods T. (2013).  Death of the Electric Car.  Los Angeles, CA: LA Times.

Clarkson R. (2020).  Ultra efficient engines and New Fuel Era. Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Volvo Cars. (2029).  AVT™ press release. Sweden: Volvo Cars.

Teng V. (2029).  AJAC: The evolution of Car. Vancouver, BC:  Canwest.

Nikola Tesla Facebook Profile

•April 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

References:

Vujovic L. (1998).  Tesla Memorial Society of New York - Tesla Biography.  Retrieved

March 30, 2010 from http://www.teslasociety.com/biography.htm

Weisstein E. (2007).  Wolfram Research – Tesla, Nikola (1856-1943). Retrieved

March 31, 2010 from http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Tesla.html

Bellis M. (n.d.).  About.com: Inventors – Nikola Tesla.  Retrieved March 28, 2010

from http://inventors.about.com/od/tstartinventions/a/Nikola_Tesla.htm

TechPost #2

•March 25, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The invention of the automobile perhaps, most importantly, revolutionized the efficiency of personal transportation.  Traditionally, people relied on a much simpler and slower way to travel from one place to another.  Before the invention of the internal combustion engine, wagons and carriages were motivated by muscle; either that of a horse or a man.  The development of new technologies during the industrial revolution allows for a significant advancement in the betterment of the automobile.  The car that we are familiar today is an evolution of the wagons and carriages from the pre-industrial era.  It is not until the industrial revolution did significant changes appear for the improvement of automobile.  A historical framework of the automobile development will have to include the pre-industrial era following to the industrial era and also its evolution in the post-industrial era.

The pre-industrial era signifies a time period prior to the beginning of the industrial revolution; the pre-17th century.  The concept of having a self-propelled vehicle has been speculated to date back as early the 13th and 15th century from the ideas of Roger Bacon and Leonardo da Vinci respectively (Flink, 1990).  During the 17th century most personal transportation form still involves a considerable amount of labour.  Personal transportation during this time is considered a luxury usually only enjoyed by nobility, or highly ranked individuals (Eckermann, 2001).  The earliest example of the development of steam-powered self-propelled vehicles were believed to have been constructed in China in 1655 by two French Jesuit missionaries by the name of Ferdinand Verbeist and Philippe-Marie Grimaldi (Flink, 1990).  This initial development of the steam engine jump starts the idea of a self-propelled personal vehicle.  Unfortunately, no further development of a steam-powered vehicle was documented until the mid 18th century.  Automobile only served a small role in the society during the pre-industrial era due to its high cost and lack of availability for the masses.

The automotive industry underwent a huge technological leap during the industrial era.  The 18th to 19th century signifies an era of change, more specifically, industrialization.  Ferdinand Verbeist and Philippe-Marie Grimaldi’s effort on the development of the steam engine was re-ignited by Nicholas Joseph Cugnot, a Swiss engineer, between 1765 and 1770 (Flink, 1990).  His efforts were followed by a few other inventors, but it was soon realized that the steam technology going nowhere due to its inefficiency.  The industrial era was significant to the history of the automobile because it was during this time that inventors experimented with the idea of creating a self-propelled vehicle that could potentially lead to building vehicles are both efficient and relatively fast.  Although, the steam engines weren’t efficient or fast by today’s standard, it was at its time, a pinnacle in automotive engineering.

Most of the significant advancement that brings automobile to the masses occurs during the post-industrial era.  Steam engines, although almost perfected by this time, is still inefficient in the way it operates.  The invention of the internal combustion engine was perhaps the single most important invention in the development of engines.  Two-stroke engines quickly gain popularity and were patented around the world by different inventors.  Stuart Perry gained the patent in the United States in 1844 and 1846, Etienne Lenoir in France in 1860; although the title “first” although not universally accepted, is generally given to Lenoir due to his commercial success with the engine (Flink, 1990).  Nicolaus Otto in 1876 matured the two-stroke engine into a more refined and sophisticated four-stroke engine which employs an intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust stroke (Flink, 1990).  One cannot possibly cover the history of the automobile without mentioning the important role of the Ford Model T.  It was the first fully personal and affordable car that serves the masses.  Ford also invented the assembly line, a much more efficient way to assemble their model Ts that cut the assembly time by almost 10 hours (English, 2008).  Automobiles productions increased rapidly around the world due to the high demands and manufacturing costs also dropped due to the invention of the assembly line. As a result, more people are able to afford a car.  The constant change in technology has evolved the automobiles today.  And even at its mature state today, it is being constantly improved.

References

Eckermann E. (2001). World History of the Automobile.  Warrendale, PA: Society of Automotive Engineers, Inc. Retrieved March 25th, 2010 from

http://books.google.com/books?id=yLZeQwqNmdgC&lpg=PP1&dq=car%20history&lr=&pg=PA6#v=onepage&q=car%20history&f=false

Flink J. (1990).  The Automobile Age.  Massachusetts: MIT Press.  Retrieved March 25th, 2010 from

http://books.google.com/books?id=7WtKH-9ha4MC&lpg=PP1&dq=car%20history&lr=&pg=PA2#v=onepage&q=&f=false

English A. (2008).  Telegraph.co.uk – Ford Model T reaches 100.  Retrieve March 25th, 2010 from

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/news/2753506/Ford-Model-T-reaches-100.html

StudioLab #3 Reflection

•March 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

In Studiolab #3, students from their respective labs were asked to create a short essay on the topic of crowdsourcing.  The essay was to be created collaboratively by everyone enrolled in the same lab via the use of a wiki.  By the end of the activity, it is expected that we should have created one cohesive essay as a class.  The students divided themselves up into different groups, with each group taking responsibility for their assigned task.  This lab was designed so that students can experience the challenges and benefits of using a wiki.  During this lab I have learned that there were quite a few challenges of using a wiki, but also realized the benefits of this technology.

The biggest obstacle I experienced in this activity was the time constraint.  The end result could’ve been much more polished if it wasn’t so tightly bound by the deadline.  My group also had trouble putting our work together on the wiki itself.  All of us finished our tasks around the same time and when it came to publishing our work on the wiki, we started to edit the wiki around the same time.  This was a major issue, with members of the group unintentionally overwriting the other members’ work.  The wiki infrastructure provided was quite inefficient due to the fact that only one member can edit the wiki at a one given time without overwriting someone else’s work.  Our group ended up having to wait for each member to finish their write-up until the next member can start theirs.

This research is quite different in quite a few aspects than individual research per se.  The benefit of crowd power can clearly be seen because with more than one person working on the same topic, task can be split among the group members.  It follows the idea of crowdsourcing where ideas about the same topic can be combined together to build a dataset for the given topic or splitting a big amount of work to the crowd to accomplish a given task in a timely manner.  The same research experiment would have taken considerably more time if it were to be done by an individual.  Sourcing the work to the crowd also gives a more diverse point of view on the subject, although this point of view could often time be subjective.

I wouldn’t say that the experience would be significantly different if everyone were to be in the same room.  Everyone would still have to use the wiki system and that does not solve the time problem that we encountered during the experiment.

Fire Alarm Disrupts Midterm at SFU Burnaby

•March 3, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Tuesday, March 2, 2010 – It was an ordinary cloudy day at SFU Burnaby with students rushing to their classes after the glorious Olympic break ended.  A group of Communication students nervously filled the lecture hall in minutes as they settle down for their midterm.

Moments after the Professor and Teaching Assistants finished distributing the usual plethora of exam materials, a fire alarm started blaring, causing a widespread panic in the lecture hall.  Students were ordered to leave the building immediately and stay outdoors until the situation has been resolved.  The fire alarm stopped ringing about 30 minutes later and students filled the lecture hall once again, only to receive the news that no questions have been omitted despite the loss of time.  Many students have not had the chance to even answer the first question.

The fire alarm rang once again approximately 20 minutes after students have been reseated.  This time, students were asked to stay in their seats.  With the alarm still blaring in the background, students strive to write their short essays even with the distracting sound of the alarm.  The Professor ordered another evacuation, this time with remarks that exam will be cancelled.  Just when students were about to leave the hall, the fire alarm stopped.  Once again, the exam continued.

Another fire alarm rang during the exam, this time only for a short moment.  No more interruptions occurred after the third alarm.  Students were quite disappointed with no reduction in questions and the disruption that was caused.  At the end of the day, most students finished the exam on time.  If the exam result turns out to be subpar, this incident might be to blame.

TechPost #1

•February 11, 2010 • Leave a Comment

INTRODUCTION

The term automobile originates from the Greek word autos (self) and the Latin mobilis (movable), which when combined means a vehicle capable of moving on its own (self-propelled) (Wikipedia, 2010).  In the contemporary society, the term automobile is also often loosely referred to as cars, although the term automobile itself encompasses trucks, buses, and other means of transportation on wheels.  For the purpose of this TechPost, I will only be focusing on cars as personal transportation.  The invention of cars revolutionized the way people travel from one place to another by allowing people to conveniently travel in much greater speeds than the traditional horse wagon.  It also allowed for an easier access to remote places.  Cars have not only become one of the most popular means of transportation, it created motorsport, and also often seen as a symbol for social status.

ARTICLE

The most prevalent shift in car culture today is the increasing popularity of hybrid and electric cars.  However, the hybrid and electric car segment only appeals to a small niche market.  Bill Vlaslic and Nick Bunkley (2010) wrote an article for The New York Times titled A Future That Doesn’t Guzzle.   In this article Vlaslic & Bunkley discussed that about “98 percent of the vehicles sold in the United States last year were powered by conventional gasoline engines”.  This shows just how much interest Americans have in the niche segment.  Automakers unveiled a slew of hybrid and electric concept vehicles in the 2010 Detroit Auto Show.  It goes without saying that automakers are putting a huge emphasis on this technology for the future of automobile, but what is the reason behind this?  Are automakers really interested in saving the environment?  Or is it just a way for the manufacturers to meet the stringent emission requirement of the future (Vlaslic & Bunkley, 2010)?  Not to worry though, Ford’s Executive Chairman, William C. Ford, states that “we will be ready for the demand whatever it is, whether it becomes 10 percent of the market or 90 percent.”

OPINION

The shift towards a more environmentally responsible automobile has to be a positive effect of the car culture shift.  Buyers might not be ready to accept this new technology because of the significantly different driving experience.  Hybrid car seems to have more chance of success than completely electric car in agreement to Bob Lutz’s (2010) statement for The New York Times that “the company did not think pure electric cars were best in the United States in the near future, because drivers often traveled beyond the range of those cars”.  It is quite hard to see a completely electric car to succeed at this time due to the fact that our fossil fuel supply still exists.  Oil companies would not allow for the success of electric car as long as they’re still in business.  All these effort by automakers to promote their greener vehicles are great because it helps in saving our planet from further degradation.  I personally think that the technology best suited for this decade is the clean diesel technology because it combines the driving feel of a normal car, yet it delivers astonishing fuel efficiency while doing minimal damage to the environment.

SOCIAL TREND / TECHNOLOGY THAT MIGHT PRECEDE

Future plausible technologies that will precede the hybrid and electric (battery) generation would have to be some sort of renewable fuel cell technology or even nuclear power.  Nuclear do create another problem, that is its radioactive waste, but that’s an entirely different story.  It is highly unlikely that there will be a new social trend that will change the way cars are used.  If there were a possibility for a radical social trend shift, it would be the idea of completely relying on public transit system for our transportation needs.  And to end on a wild note, maybe teleportation would one day come true.

REFERENCES

Wikipedia (2010).  Automobile.  Retrieved February 9th, 2010, from http://en

.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automobile

Vlaslic B. & Bunkley N. (2010, January 11).  A Future That Doesn’t Guzzle.

Retrieved February 10th, 2010, from The New York Times Web site:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/12/automobiles/autoshow/12electric

.html?scp=2&sq=dependency%20car&st=cse

Vincent Teng – vet@sfu.ca

 
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