Learning from Locusts
Some auto researchers are taking cues from nature. Locusts travel safely in fast-moving swarms, making them masters of collision avoidance. Researchers are studying how they do it, thinking they could reproduce the locusts’ radar system onto a computer chip to install on a windshield camera. Far-fetched? Adaptive cruise control already uses a similar approach.
Coconut, flax and hemp may be part of the car you’ll drive one day. Possible? It’s underway. Researchers are exploring many ways to use plants in building more environmentally friendly cars, and automakers are already using soy by-products in foam for seat cushions and arm rests.
Automakers have been bending sheet metal for years… but does a car need a metal exterior? Researchers are studying the possibility of autos with textile covers or carbon-fiber bodies that enhance fuel efficiency. Some scientists are investigating an alloy with a memory, allowing it to change shape… and return to its original form.
Sci Fi Driving
In the movies, characters use “haptic controls” like touch screens or joysticks to guide spaceships. Could cars borrow from science fiction? It’s already science fact. Automakers have developed a single touch panel that can replace multiple mechanical buttons, switches and knobs.