The Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) receives one of the biggest percentage increases (22%) in the Clinton budget. A total of $277 million in federal funds is proposed for the program to develop the so-called Supercar--a vehicle with very low emissions and up to three times the fuel efficiency of today's cars. The fattest chunk of the federal budget for PNGV, $164 million, goes to the Department of Energy. The government and the Big Three automakers share PNGV costs. A breakdown of the Administration's budget for PNGV reflects a recent decision to concentrate R&D on four key systems: hybrid electric vehicle drives, direct injection engines, fuel cells, and lightweight materials. On the other hand, funding falls for projects now considered less promising--gas turbines and ultracapacitors. The budget also retracts from further federal research into areas that appear to have commercial applications and have reached a proprietary point.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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