Because automotive news coverage over the past few years has focused so heaviliy on hybrid technology, I was recently surprised to learn that a new documentary about electric cars was released into video on November 14th. Titled "Who Killed the Electric Car?," the film looks at the reasons behind the demise of pure electrics, paricularly GM's EV1. Narrated by actor Martin Sheen and packed with snippets from such Hollywood stars as Mel Gibson, Ed Begley Jr., Phyllis Diller, and Tom Hanks, the film has a decidely environmentalist bent to it, and hints strongly at an oil-auto-and-government conspiracy. The underlying message — that the electric vehicle was a great technology undermined by greedy oil executives and stodgy automakers — comes across clearly, thanks to some clever and entertaining filmmaking.
Still, entertainment and technology make strange bedfellows, which is why we'd like to her from those of you who've seen the movie. We'll be posting a column about it in the next few days. Until then, let us know your thoughts: Was the film fair? Honest? Technically accurate? If you haven't seen it, we recommend that you pick up a copy at the local video store, mull it over, and take a seat at your trusty word processor. Use this space to post comments and, as always, feel free to let loose. –Chuck Murray
In 2012, 2.2 million people pledged $319 million to kick-start more than 18,000 of its projects on Kickstarter.com. Here's a look at some of the most inspired ideas from the ultimate crowdfunding platform.
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.