Forget fuel cells. Plastics are where it's at for automotive innovations. The American Plastics Council (www.americanplasticscouncil.org) says the average North American car will have 142 kg of plastic by 2009, compared to 117 kg in 1999. Keep your eye out for: all-plastic radiators to accommodate lower and flatter front ends; integrated front ends where one plastic module will cover the first third of the vehicle; and snap-in interior instrument panels with molded-in electronics.
One way to keep a Formula One racing team moving at breakneck speed in the pit and at the test facility is to bring CAD drawings of the racing vehicleís parts down to the test facility and even out to the track.
Most of us would just as soon step on a cockroach rather than study it, but thatís just what researchers at UC Berkeley did in the pursuit of building small, nimble robots suitable for disaster-recovery and search-and-rescue missions.
Design engineers need to prepare for a future in which their electronic products will use not just one or two, but possibly many user interfaces that involve touch, vision, gestures, and even eye movements.
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