During this week at Gas2, we saw innovative announcements in charging systems, autonomous transportation, and the Formula E racing program. Elon Musk was in the news again, this time agreeing to host a fan-created commercial contest. And an exhibit of Cuban rafts caught our attention and hearts. Here’s all that, and more, in review…
In April, Honda engineers will present a paper at the SAE World Conference Experience that explores the advantages of dynamic charging systems for electric cars and trucks. Dynamic charging allows a vehicle driving on the highway to directly contact a source of electricity that moves the car while also charging the battery. As an alternative to wireless charging systems, dynamic charging systems could allow drivers to add enough energy to drive 25 miles. The innovative system for cars would use 180 kilowatts of power — 600 volts AC at 300 amps. Stopping to recharge batteries would become a thing of the past.
The Geneva Auto Show is featuring, among mostly pricey high performance concept and show cars, an innovative autonomous transportation pod. Volkswagen’s first attempt at designing a Level 5 fully autonomous vehicle, Sedric will become personal transportation within a fleet of similar ride hailing pods. Without controls, users direct Sedric verbally to a destination. Data is projected on the front windshield, battery and motors are mounted below the floor, and doors are cut into the roof. Vehicles that look very similar are already in service in places like Singapore and the Netherlands.
Renault has drawn on its Formula E program knowledge with the purpose-built ZOE. The carbon fiber, two seat sports coupe has 460 horsepower and two identical electric motors — one in front and one in back. Weighing in around 3000 lbs., which includes its 40 kWh battery, the ZOE-e is molded and sculpted so produce excellent aerodynamics and 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds.
Elon Musk has affirmed a fifth grader’s suggestion, and now Tesla will sponsor a fan-made ad contest. Known as “Project Loveday,” the contest’s winning selection will be featured at a product launch, and the commercial’s composer will receive paid travel expenses and accommodations. Because the topics can address any of the Tesla product line of EVs, solar, and energy storage, the Tesla mission to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy” will likely be central. The contest ends in early May.
The 90 mile Florida Straits from Cuba to the U.S. coastline is treacherous with its storm surges, currents, winds, and swells. Since the early 1960s, rickety sea craft built from scraps of inner tubes, wood, and rope have symbolized the desperation of many Cuban people who escape economic, political, religious, or familial strife and who cross the Florida Straits to the United States to seek a better life. The Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse on the eastern shore of Florida exhibits rafts that have come up on their local shores. These rafts symbolize dangerous journeys without guarantee of save refuge when migrants land on U.S. soil.