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

spike spike66 at comcast.net
Tue May 24 03:04:21 UTC 2005

> bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of "Hal Finney"
> Subject: Re: [extropy-chat] Car of the (near) future
> Dan Clemmensen writes:
> > Hal discusses an evolution of hybrids that ends with
> > a gasoline-driven motor-generator driving efficient electric
> > motors for each wheel. I don't see it...

Hal's article discusses changes in cars, but keep in mind
that many of the innovations therein have been explored.  They
are improvements perhaps, but not miracles.  While playing
amateur cowboy last weekend I had an idea.  On the ranch
is a utility vehicle that looks like a cross between a
motorcycle and a car.  It has four large ballooney tires 
for offroad use, but has handlebars and is straddled like 
a motorcycle.  We could easily create a street-adapted
version of these for the hordes of the proletariat.

Consider this thought experiment.  Think of a small car.  You
are perhaps seeing a Honda Civic or equivalent, weight about
a ton, four cylinders, displacement about 2000 cc.  The
four wheeled cowperson vehicle is a quarter of that: a
quarter of a ton, one cylinder, 500 cc displacement.  The
rolling resistance should be about a quarter as much.

The frontal area times the coefficient of drag for the
cowperson vehicle is probably about equal to that of
the civic, so if driven at half the speed it should be
about a quarter of the wind resistance.  So you would have
a low-tech vehicle that gets four times the fuel mileage
as our current compact cars. 

The next thing I learned upon researching is that China
Inc. is stamping out a downsized version of the ranch
thing for 800 bucks a copy.  It has a 90cc motor and has
a mass closer to 100kg.  These are really made for 
children, but you get the idea.  We sweat over peak
oil while struggling with an incorrect assumption: that
we must drive cars at least the size of the smallest ones
on the road today, and that we must have cars that can
carry four, or at least two apes.  But there is enormous
potential to waaaay downsize, if we assume that we can
accept vehicles that can only carry one, and that have
no heater, no air conditioner, no radio, no gears, that
top out around 40 mph.

We could even rig a lexan shell of sorts, so that we
at least would stay dry.



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