Detroit—Some interesting statistics came out during the recent Firestone
tire recall on Ford sport-utility vehicles. Ford used data from the U.S. Department of Transportation to make a case for the relative safety of SUVs. The information it presented showed the overall occupant fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles lower for compact SUVs than passenger cars (left). However, while frontal impacts in cars had the greatest fraction of fatalities, rollovers in compact SUVs accounted for nearly two-thirds of all deaths in those vehicles—a sobering thought given SUVs' higher center of gravity making them more prone to such accidents—and the reason for Ford's introduction of its rollover protection package in 2002 Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers (see Design News , 10/02/00).
No numbers were quoted for death rates in vehicles colliding with SUVs.
More often than not, with the purchase of a sports car comes the sacrifice of any sort of utility. In other words, you can forget about a large trunk, extra seats for the kids, and more importantly driving in snowy (or inclement) weather. But what if there was a vehicle that offered the best of both worlds; great handling and practicality?
Science fiction author Isaac Asimov may have the best rules for effective brainstorming and creativity. His never-before-published essay, "On Creativity," recently made it to the Web pages of MIT Technology Review.
Much has been made over the potentially dangerous flammability of lithium-ion batteries after major companies like Boeing, Sony, and Tesla have grappled with well-publicized battery fires. Researchers at Stanford University may have come up with a solution to this problem with a smart sensor for lithium-ion batteries that provides a warning if the battery is about to overheat or catch fire.
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