Electric Car – Hiriko Fold

Those Toolies at MIT have cranked out an electric car.  The Hiriko Fold is an all electric vehicle that can do some amazing things.  Like, it folds up to fit into ridiculously small parking places – no doubt a direct result of having spent significant time in Cambridge.  It also has wheels that support zero radius turning or can even maneuver laterally to park by sliding in sideways.

Hirido Fold

With a range of 75 miles and the ability to carry two individuals this is not a general purpose automobile.  However, for most commuters this looks to be just about perfect.

Hiriko Fold

One question I have is how does this vehicle perform in the winter?  That is an awful lot of glass.  If you park outside, and many of us do, it would take a bit of work to clear that entire area – and – an electric vehicle doesn’t generate the waste heat we use for our defrosters on other cars – so I’m just wondering.

Hiroko Fold

They promise to have these on the market next year for around $16,000.  Live testing is underway in Europe now so if you want to hold your breath, you will probably survive.

Traffic Waves And Phantom Traffic Jams

Have you ever been zooming down the road and suddenly everyone comes to a stop and then just c r a w l s along.  Sometimes we are slowing down for a construction zone that might have been better marked.  Sometimes we are hitting the dead zone left behind by a wreck that has been cleared.  But sometimes when we get through the delay there is no visible reason – no construction, no wreck, no attention grabbing scene along the road – just open road.  It turns out the problem is people.  When you let people drive cars and they have a chance to bunch up, they will.  And when they bunch up they will slow down even to the point of stopping.

A group of inquisitive folks in the UK did an experiment – putting people in cars and having them drive around a small circuit.  Sure enough – traffic waves.

Traffic Waves

Another group at MIT noodled on this a bit and wrote a computer program that simulated a group of people driving their cars around a similar circuit.  It seems a few simple mathematical rules describe how we crowd the car in front and our delayed reaction in slowing and accelerating.  These rules give us phantom traffic jams.  There is no factor other than driver tendency.

Phantom Traffic Jams