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
Could our view of distant galaxies be obstructed by a lawnmower? That unlikely question is at the heart of a growing debate between the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and a robot manufacturer that seeks to build self-guided lawnmowers.
Design News readers spoke loudly and clearly after our recent news story about a resurgence in manufacturing -- and manufacturing jobs. Commenters doubted the manufacturers, describing them as H-1B visa promoters, corporate crybabies, and clowns. They argued that US manufacturers aren’t willing to train workers, preferring instead to import cheap labor from abroad.
Using wireless chips and accessories, engineers can now extract data from the unlikeliest of places -- pumps, motors, bridges, conveyors, refineries, cooling towers, parking garages, down-hole drills and just about anything else that can benefit from monitoring.
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