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Cars that run on coffee, air & sewage…plus 3D printed self-driving vehicles

Future Tech: All about autos.

This week we explore some awesome advancements in automobile technology. From self-driving autonomous passenger vehicles to a car made of LEGO that runs on air.

"Olli" the self-driving 3D printed vehicle can seat up to 12 people

Local Motors 3D printed autonomous Olli

Local Motors 3D printed car Swim

Local Motors 3D printed car

"Local Motors is not your regular car company. It's been pioneering the use of open source development to design its vehicles, starting with the Rally Fighter off-road sports car and a number of vehicles that have been the result of competitions, including one held in conjunction with the Department of Energy's ARPA-E. Most recently, the company unveiled Olli, its first autonomous vehicle. …

"Local Motors has a large retail location at National Harbor (selling merchandise), along with a test lab complete with a gigantic 3D printer for rapid prototyping. Several of the company's designs were also on display—the Strati, which was the first 3D-printed car, as well as the Swim, which was the winning design from its Project Redacted competition. And of course, Olli the autonomous people mover. …

""This is version 0.0 but we're finishing some engineering changes to make it version 1.0," he explained. "It seats 8-12 people, and it's very comfortable on the interior. A lot of the interior is 3D-printed—you can see the refinement versus the Strati. We didn't mill the finish but you can see the refinement of the printing. And a lot of the tooling for the form-pulled plastics were 3D-printed, as were the wheel wells. The other big thing is it's all-electric, and it uses lidar and autonomous technology." As currently configured, Olli has a range of 60 miles (100km) at speeds of between 12-18mph (19-29km/h)." – Ars Technica

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"Six vehicles powered by coffee, saltwater, sewage and other crazy fuels"

saltwater powered race car

"When it comes to advances in automotive technology, the search for alternative fuels is pretty exciting. Of course, you've heard about biodiesel engines converted to run on used vegetable oil that sputter out little more than water and the faint smell of French fries. However, there's a slew of vehicles out there that run on all sorts of other fuels too. There's an electric car powered by caffeine, as well as a hot rod that runs on air. Other curious fuel sources include plain old saltwater, crude made from algae, and (inevitably) there are even a number of vehicles designed to run on biogas generated from livestock waste (or, in layman's terms, cars that run on poop). Although some may be smellier than others, these inventive energy sources offer an intriguing alternative to conventional fossil fuels." – engadget


The "Carpuccino" runs on coffee grounds.

toilet bike

In the place of the seat, there's a toilet in this Japanese-made three-wheeled motorcycle. The Toilet Bike Neo runs on livestock waste, aka poop, and a single tank will last up to 180 miles.

LEGO car

This LEGO car runs entirely on air and drives up to 20 miles per hour.

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Mercedes-Benz uses augmented reality & 3D imagery to assist first responders 

Mercedes-Benz 3d imagery augmented reality

"Mercedez-Benz has been putting QR codes on the B-pillars and inside the fuel door of new cars since November 2013, and those have provided a way for first responders and emergency personnel to quickly get detailed model info about any Mercedes-Benz vehicle involved in an accident using the Rescue Assist mobile app. Now, an update brings 3D imagery, as well as augmented reality, to the existing app, letting people involved in rescue operation get an even better overall picture of the situation when an accident happens.

Through the new AR features, emergency personnel can see color-coded representations of internal components, including key areas to be wary of when doing things like cutting through vehicles to free trapped passengers. The app will provide insight into where things like fuel lines, batteries and other electrical components are located, in order to help reduce the risk of further damage or injury that arises when a car needs to be unconventionally dismantled in order to save lives." – TechCrunch

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Audi uses tech to absorb shocks from potholes & turn that into energy

Audi Media Centre

"In the mobility of the future, the recuperation of energy plays an increasingly important role, including in a car’s suspension. Audi is working on a prototype called “eROT,” in which electromechanical rotary dampers replace the hydraulic dampers used today for an even more comfortable ride.

"The principle behind eROT is easily explained: “Every pothole, every bump, every curve induces kinetic energy in the car. Today’s dampers absorb this energy, which is lost in the form of heat,” said Dr.-Ing. Stefan Knirsch, Board Member for Technical Development at AUDI AG. “With the new electromechanical damper system in the 48-volt electrical system, we put this energy to use. It also presents us and our customers with entirely new possibilities for adjusting the suspension.”" – Audi Media Centre

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See more IT & Tech innovation stories and let us know the interesting technology stories you come across. We may feature them in future articles.

Tom Connon

Tom is a previous small business owner/operator and now has over 17 years of telecom experience. As a Portfolio Manager he specializes in product/service development, managing technical workforces and Customer/Segment Marketing. Outside of the office, Tom can be found shuttling his kids around from Lacrosse, hockey and ringette practices at a rink near you.

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