Design the ideas car of the future!.
Can we design the car of the future?
I believe that the average logical person with an interest in transport can add to the debate on car design, and in this hub I intend to show that we are one helluva lot smarter than the design wiz kids give us credit for. When it comes to seeing current problems that need to be solved it seems they need our help!
So with a fair bit of disgust for the thirsty heavy complicated cars of today, and very little respect for manufacturers current direction, I say we offer the designers some ideas.
I realize that many inventions and innovations will not transfer to OEM (Original manufacture) easily. Some good ideas will involve total redesign from the chassis up, others may involve simpler hydraulic suspension, to lose some unsprung weight.
Let's design the car of the future right here!
Is this the car of the future?
Would the car of the future look like this?
Seating and getting into the seat.
Lets start with entering the car. The seats need to raise when we open the door. Getting down into the seat is currently a risky business that can and does cause back injuries, lots of them according to my pet ER nurse. Having hurt myself a few times getting in and out of sports and racing cars in particular I can add personal experience of my own!.
One of the main reasons for me buying the Honda city when it came
out in 1984 was my bad back. Solid supportive seats impressed, but the
main thing was the massive access when you opened the door. You just walk into the little Honda.
If the seat raised when we opened the door, and turned towards us so we could sit in the seat from normal height and then have it drop down and turn back to the forward position after we were seated this would solve one problem.
Renault will release a Clio in 2010 with a seat that swivels toward the outside.
Fold away steering wheels is another way to make it easier for driver entry. Old and well proven idea that needs to be a standard on new cars.
Entering and exiting the car.
The Dymaxion Car designed by an architect.
Back seats could be designed to do the same. I can think of a half dozen ways to do this since sensors can detect when the seat needs to raise and lower.
Electric motors and solenoids can be used to control the movement if no better design emerges, although I think this could be simplified and mostly mechanical still using sensors or employing the weight of the person entering the car as the source of power by creating an inbuilt leverage point such as a hand grip.
Electric motors have recently been developed that operate through a tiny motherboard that can be mounted on the motor itself. These new electric motors can produce up to one horsepower although not much bigger than a box of matches, using a scrambled circuit to keep the windings cool, so no problem with sourcing basic components for short period power use.
pure mechanical operation may also be a way to go, with the seat
mounted on a cam that raises the seat as it turns, possibly operated by
the door being opened for cheaper cars.This would seem feasible, as the difference between the required seat movement and the door opening distance should produce a leverage of about 3 to 1.
Honda Accord Euro interior
Help the driver to make the right decisions!
Dashboard instrument clusters and driver information.
The reliance on millivolt meters for fuel and temperature are old hat and inaccurate as are magnetic drag speedometers.
Instruments that are hard to read in the dark or bright sunlight must be completely re-thought. Update these to modern sensors on all new cars and get rid of the rough estimates idea, as it leads to running out of gas, engine temperature rises that are not detected early enough to save engine damage and speeding fines.
Instruments should produce text that describes the problem in easy terms to the driver along with instructions as to how best to proceed in overcoming it.
Modern motors are usually destroyed by people ignoring the current warnings, and even a blown globe in a warning light can lead to losing a motor.
The lighting on cars is still old hat in my view as well, and needs a major revamp. The extra indicator in the mirrors was a good move, but there is much more that needs to be done.
Headlights although improved are not moving forward in design other than to make them fit the body style and provide a brighter but not always better view of the road ahead.
My 1984 Honda with it's tiny little headlight with QI globes provides almost as much light as the latest headlights with gas globes, and a better spread than many.
The view of the side of the road should be much wider than it is, with the light intensity varied in zones so as to provide a wider diffused light to detect pedestrians and animals on the roadside. Lights should change in spectrum to enable visibility without blinding people.
Tail and stop lamps need to be visible from a wider angle and be able to be seen clearly in bright sunlight.
Rear indicators need side lamps so that other drivers can see when a car is turning from any position of view.
A "U turn" indicator is another idea offered by agvulpes in the comments here.
If we make U turns, why not have an indicator to ensure our intentions are not misunderstood as a right or left turn?
Heating and cooling.
There is enough solar power on a hot day to provide at least a portion of cooling. Some newer cars have a fan that runs on solar heat from the roof or glass area to power this small fan that circulates the air when the car is not in use for a while, like in the supermarket parking lot. The car is kept a lot cooler.
Why not use the solar panel to charge an over capacity battery then have it run an air conditioner compressor when the car reaches a certain temperature when it is standing in the sun?The compressor be be re-designed to operate efficiently with small input and still operate properly from the engine.
A battery will be able to do this for hours if the car is well insulated and the air conditioner is on a low setting, then recharge itself by being always turned on at the solar panel and topping up the battery. Batteries can be compartmented these days, so this would not interfere with electronics if it did go flat anyway.
heating is easy enough with internal combustion engines, but what other ways can we find to convert energy to heat our cars?
We have power like friction and inertia, any heat caused in producing horsepower, any heat caused by braking, even if that braking is provided by the drag from alternators it will still produce heat, all energy sources.
Could electric heating with batteries work with this sort of set-up?
Could you put another different coloured and located indicator on the offside to show the car is turning even though you are where you can't see the indicator on the other side of the car?
It would avoid some accidents in the future where a third vehicle
veers to avoid someone who is turning .... and hits you even though you are on the other side and
apparently out of the way?
None of these ideas are expensive to implement, and are just common sense in my view.
Some ideas will have other implications of course and those will need to be considered.
Air bags or a better protection system needs to protect all passengers, unless we believe that the baby in the back seat has less value than the nut behind the wheel who may be putting the passengers lives in danger.
I believe that the current air bags need massive improvement if we are to retain them.
They are expensive, it is easy to hide that they have been removed and the indicator circuit "doctored" and although they save lives, severe injuries are still commonplace and they cannot protect against all potential accidents at this time anyway.
What new innovation will or should replace air bags?
Any design ideas for a future car are welcome!
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