December has been the biggest month yet for the fledgling electric vehicle movement.
On December 13th, the first truckload of Chevy Volts left GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant, bound for customers in California, Texas, Washington D.C, and New York. At the same time, Nissan has officially launched all-electric sales with the delivery of the first Leaf. On December 20th, Nissan will roll out another batch of Leafs for customers in Arizona, Oregon, Seattle, and Tennessee.
Other automakers aren’t far behind. Ford says it has begun shipping electric Transit Connect vans in North America. Smart USA has said its tiny Fortwo electric car will be available for rent in New York City through Hertz beginning December 15.
Moreover, The Wall Street Journal reports Staples Inc. has ordered 41 electric trucks from Smith Electric Vehicles. Frito-Lay, FedEx Corp., AT&T Inc. and other companies have also begun purchasing electric delivery trucks. The newspaper says that electric trucks will appeal to businesses if they deliver savings on fuel costs and maintenance. “They have to justify themselves,” said a Staples VP. “They have to prove themselves and pull their own weight.”
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.