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GM, Virginia Tech To Create Tire Test Facility

A “Smart Road” can already produce rain, snow and fog.

by on Aug.11, 2010

The VTTI Smart Road has the ability to replicate rain, snow and fog for tire testing.

General Motors Company is investing $5 million to help create a new National Tire Research Center at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Better fuel economy and lower emissions are two of the reasons why.

The facility is the result of a long partnership between VTTI and GM. Other funding for the $14 million center is coming from Virginia Tech and the national tobacco settlement.

The National Tire Research Center will incorporate state-of-the-art rolling resistance machinery, in theory enabling tire and automotive manufacturers to accelerate the development of tire technology, reproduce real-world emergency events, and improve vehicle highway safety, according to GM.

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New Car Could Let The Blind Drive

Using advanced sensors to “see” the road, modified Ford to lead into Rolex 24 race next January.

by on Jul.02, 2010

Blind driver Brian Buhrow tries out DriveGrip.

While there have been plenty of advances when it comes to enabling the blind to participate in daily life, they’re still at a severe disadvantage in a society so heavily dependent on personal transportation.

But even that obstacle soon could be overcome, suggests the National Federation of the Blind, which is developing a high-tech version of the Ford Escape designed to allow the blind to drive.

Developed in cooperation with Virginia Tech, the vehicle will make its running debut on January 29, 2011 during the “Blind Driver Challenge,” an on-track event that will lead into the annual Rolex 24 endurance race at Florida’s Daytona International Speedway.

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“I’m not prepared to say when a vehicle like this will be in a dealership where you could walk in and buy one, but with a little imagination, I’m convinced that day will come,” says Federation board member Tarnell Diggs.

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Mississippi State University EV Wins 2010 EcoCAR

Virginia Tech, Penn State finish second, third with student cars.

by on May.27, 2010

The Mississippi State hybrid had a 21.3 kWh battery pack with an electric range of 60 miles.

Students from Mississippi State University placed first in the 2010 EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge finals in San Diego today after designing and building a biodiesel extended-range electric vehicle (EREV).

Virginia Tech earned second place with an ethanol-powered EV design. Penn State came in third place with a biodiesel fueled electric vehicle.

Mississippi State beat 15 universities in the second of a three-year competition sponsored by taxpayers via the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors, ditto on taxpayers providing the money.

During the contest,  North American engineering students rework a GM-donated vehicle to minimize fuel consumption and emissions, while maintaining its “utility, safety and performance.”

Mississippi State designed a hybrid with a 21.3 kWh A123 Systems battery pack, which provides an electric range of 60 miles. (Figure on $1,000 per kWh of storage at current prices, less than  tuition at some of the schools.) It’s also equipped with a 1.3-liter GM turbo-diesel engine and 75 kW generator in a series plug-in configuration.

During testing, the vehicle’s fuel economy was rated at 118 miles per gallon gas equivalent (combined city/highway cycle). In addition to the overall award, Mississippi State won nine additional awards, including performance events in autocross and acceleration runs.

“This was our most challenging year and stakes were high to have our vehicle ready for inspections. To finish a year of hard work and long hours in first place is an incredible honor for me and my teammates,” said Matt Doude from Mississippi State.

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