[extropy-chat] Car of the (near) future

Max More max at maxmore.com
Mon May 23 18:45:34 UTC 2005

Hal -- haven't read Huber's piece yet, but it seems to me that the major 
changes he's talking about may not all happen with hybrids, but may require 
fuel cell vehicles that enable "drive-by-wire" systems. My review of a good 
article on this:

Tomorrow's Cars, Today's Engines

I like the idea of being able to customize the car body so much more easily 
and thoroughly. Of course the continuing trend toward increasing safety is 
pleasing from a superlongevist point of view.



At 11:47 AM 5/23/2005, you wrote:
>I've continued to read books on Peak Oil, which I still haven't reached
>any significant conclusions about, but in the one by Peter Huber he had
>an interesting picture of how cars would change in the next 10-20 years.
>I saw a related article today about forecasts for the switchover to
>hybrids, at http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/002783.html .
>Huber predicts that we will see major changes in the design of cars in
>the next decade.  He foresees a transition of most of the parts of car
>engines and ancillary equipment from mechanical to electronic control.
>Of course this is already underway; 30-40 years ago cars were mostly
>mechanical, while today we have many electronic control systems.
>Huber sees this process as being completed in the near future.
>No longer will we have belts running from the engine to power the various
>components.  No longer will we have all the mechanically operated valves,
>lifters, cam shafts and other parts of the engine that relate to control.
>Instead, these parts will all become electronic.  The fans, pumps and
>other belt driven components will run off their own electric motors.
>And even within the engine, each valve will be electronically activated,
>with its own motor, solenoid or piezoelectronic actuator.
>The payoff from all this will be reduction of weight.  A substantial part
>of the weight of today's engines is in the ancillary control equipment.
>Replacing these mechanical linkages with wires carrying electrical control
>signals will allow a simplified engine design and greater efficiency.
>Further efficiencies will come from the increased flexibility possible
>in an electronic control system vs a mechanically oriented one, allowing
>fine tuning of engine power output.
>The ultimate step will take longer, but eventually the power train itself
>will become electrical.  Instead of a drive shaft, engines will generate
>electricity which will power motors located in wheel hubs.  Small, high
>power electrical motors already exist which are able to efficiently
>carry the load necessary to power the vehicle.  They're expensive now,
>but they will appear first in high end vehicles and work their way
>eventually down to every car.
>At that point, the engine exists solely to power an electrical generator.
>Everything else in the car runs off electricity.  This is the ultimate
>evolution of the hybrid vehicle.
>The next logical step is to allow hybrids to be plugged in at home so
>they start the trip with a freshly charged set of batteries.  The article
>I linked above talks about people who are already beginning to do this
>today, modifying their hybrid cars (voiding warranties) to allow it.
>Even the batteries in today's cars are good for a 5-6 mile trip, enough to
>run to the store and back.  Such trips account for a substantial fraction
>of gasoline usage.  Next generation batteries will hold even more.
>(Huber even sees it going the other direction, where you could use your
>car as an emergency household generator if the grid goes down, or during
>peak usage times to help balance statewide load.)
>Cars are less efficient as electrical generators than the big plants, due
>to economies of scale.  And in terms of oil imports, electricity mostly
>uses other fuels: coal, nuclear, natural gas.  Very little petroleum is
>used for electricity.  So in the context of the Peak Oil scenario, if we
>can shift energy usage from gasoline to electricity, as with the plug-in
>hybrid, we can more easily adapt to a decrease in oil availability.
>extropy-chat mailing list
>extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org

Max More, Ph.D.
max at maxmore.com or more at extropy.org
Strategic Philosopher
Chairman, Extropy Institute. http://www.extropy.org <more at extropy.org>
Director of Content Solutions, ManyWorlds Inc.: http://www.manyworlds.com
--- Thought leadership in the innovation economy
m.more at manyworlds.com

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