Monday, August 23, 2010

Electric Concept Cars From GM

Not only is the gasoline engine about to become obsolete but the advent of true electric design is also on the way to making the driver obsolete.

These vehicles are a clear solution to urban transport needs.  The heavies will still be around but a system like this with a built in autopilot capability allows not just twice as many vehicles on the same road space but possibly far more as spacing becomes less critical.

Since range makes these urban cars, rough roads cease to be an issue, as does high speeds for interurban travel.  One other thought. These could be loaded onto a double decked train car quite handily with passengers aboard and were four cars could be packed this could hold perhaps sixteen with a bit of design effort.  It might be worth it as a high speed train could move such a load in a short time between cities.

As I have posted, the electric car is about to stand in as the energy storage system for the power industry.  Serving this new customer will see our civilization completely retooled.

GM EN-V Two-Seat Electric Concept

General Motors and its Chinese partner SAIC will unveil the EN-V two-seat electric concept vehicle in May at the World Expo in Shanghai.

The upright, two-wheeled vehicle, called Electric Networked Vehicle, or EN-V for short, is essentially a pod-shaped electric skateboard powered by a Segway Personal Transporter.

By 2030, GM said, more than 60% of the world’s 8 billion people are expected to live in urban areas, putting even greater pressure on already struggling public infrastructures, such as roads.

The Detroit automaker’s potential answer is the EN-V — six feet tall, four feet wide and four feet long electric vehicle, which was designed to alleviate concerns surrounding traffic congestion, parking availability, air quality and affordability for tomorrow’s cities.

GM has built 12 prototypes of three versions of the EN-V concept vehicle each is based on the same mechanical platform.

EN-V’s platform has evolved from the platform of the Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility (P.U.M.A.) prototype that was developed by Segway and debuted in April 2009.  Segway has worked collaboratively with GM to develop and deliver multiple copies of the drivetrain platform that seamlessly connect to and power the various EN-Vs.

EN-V is propelled by electric motors in each of its two driving-mode wheels.  Dynamic stabilization technology empowers EN-V, giving it the unique ability to carry two passengers and light cargo in a footprint that’s about a third of a traditional vehicle.  It can literally “turn on a dime” within its own operating envelope.  In addition, everything in EN-V is drive-by-wire, supporting its ability to operate autonomously or under manual control. The motors not only provide power for acceleration, but also bring the vehicle to a stop.

The EN-V has a top speed of about 25 miles per hour and a range of 25 miles, are powered by small lithium-ion batteries.

The EN-V seats two occupants side by side and has a wheel at both ends of the lateral center line of the car. Each wheel is powered by a 3kW electric motor drawing power from a battery of lithium ion cells.

EN-V can also improve the efficiency of the public electric infrastructure since the vehicle can communicate with the electric grid to determine the best time to recharge based on overall usage.

By combining the Global Positioning System (GPS) with vehicle-to-vehicle communications and distance-sensing technologies, the EN-V concept can be driven both manually and autonomously.

Its autonomous operating capability offers the promise of reducing traffic congestion by allowing EN-V to automatically select the fastest route based on real-time traffic information.  The concept also leverages wireless communications to enable a “social network” that can be used by drivers and occupants to communicate with friends or business associates while on the go.

This combination of sensing technology, wireless communication and GPS-based navigation establishes a technology foundation, pieces of which could migrate from the EN-V concept and potentially lead the way to future advanced vehicle safety systems.

The ability to communicate with other vehicles and with the infrastructure could dramatically reduce the number of vehicle accidents.  Using vehicle-based sensor and camera systems, EN-V can “sense” what’s around it, allowing the vehicle to react quickly to obstacles or changes in driving conditions. For example, if a pedestrian steps out in front of the vehicle, EN-V will decelerate to a slower and safer speed and stop sooner than today’s vehicles.

An EN-V could cost one-fifth to one-sixth the price of a conventional car and cost a third or a fourth of what it takes to operate a normal vehicle, according to GM.

EN-V’s platform has evolved from the platform of the Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility (P.U.M.A.) prototype that was developed by Segway and debuted in April 2009.

GM EN-V spec sheet
Overall Track:   1,150 mm [45”]

Jiao (Pride)             400 kg [880 lb]
Xiao (Laugh)           410 kg [900 lb]
Miao (Magic)          415 kg [910 lb]       
Chassis Platform      210 kg [460 lb]
Body Construction:           Painted carbon fiber
Closures:                 Front access (single door, with polycarbonate glazing)
Seating:                  2 passengers side by side, fixed bucket seats
Chassis Construction:      Magnesium casting (lower chassis)

Top Speed:                    40 km/h [25 mph]
Range:                     40 km [25 miles]           
Energy Consumption:       70 Wh/km [125 Wh/mile]                 
Turning Radius:         1.74 m [68.5”] wall to wall diameter

Propulsion System
Motor Type:           Brushless DC motors for propulsion, braking and steering
Power:             440 Nm (max. torque) and 18 kW (max. power)
Battery Type:        Lithium-ion phosphate (air cooled) 
Output:              3.2 kWh and 5 kW (regenerative braking)        

Autonomous Systems
Sensors:         Vision, ultrasonic and Doppler sensors
Wireless:          5.9 GHz dedicated short-range communication and GPS

Autonomous Functionality

-       Automated retrieval, via app-linked smart phone
-       Automated door opening, via app-linked smart phone
-       Platooning
-       Infotainment options (geo-locating other vehicles, audiovisual information)
-       Web-conferencing (social networking)
-       Collision avoidance between vehicles
-       Object detection
-       Automated parking, via handheld device

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