I agree that added complexity is not the answer. That is why I am skeptical of hybreds. They more than double the possibibility of major component failure, and double the weight of the propulsion systems.
But some some ideas, such as regenerative braking, are simple and could easily reduce fuel comsumption by half. If brakes enaged an air compressor or flywheel, that energy could be used over and over again instead of being wasted, and it is not a very complex system.
And I agree about the hazards of aluminum wire. It was tried in homes in the 1950's, with terrible results. If one wants to reduce weight from wires, the easier solution is just to increase voltage from 12 to 24 or 48, because then wires can be extremely thin, and still carry the same wattage safely.
Head on collisions with anything are pretty final. Hit from behind and run into the guard rail are the threats I've experience from trucks. I suppose a good crush zone helps protect you from the first and a .44 mag handles the second. I still prefer something in the 8000 pound range for general use.
Respectfully, cages are not that different between vehicles. You only protect the passenger compartment. In fact, "dune buggies" or "sand rails" have a bit more expensive cage since the cage is also their main structure (chassis).
I agree with you that for this discussion the focus should be on collisions between passenger cars, including light trucks. Collisions with large trucks have been and always will be catastrophic at medium to high speeds.
Trucks are irrelvant because nothing is going to survive a head on with a truck. Your only hope with a truck is to avoid a head on, and the smaller your vehicle, the easier to manuver and avoid the truck.
Safety cages are easier on lighter vehicles. Dune buggies are easy to make a safety cage for because they are light. If you had to make a safety cage for a big truck or even a Cadillac, it would be essentially impossible. The heavier the object is, the worse the strength to weight ratio. There is no way around the laws of physiscs. That is why an ant can lift 100 times its own weight, and we can't. We are too big. Small cars are inherently stronger.
The only problem is when 2 vehicles collide head on, then whomever has the greatest mass, will destroy the other vehicle. And the solution to that is not have head on collisions, or try to make all vehicles smaller.
I have survived several motorcycle accidents. Apparently, I was "allowed" more than 1 accident. However, I get the point: cars (for most people/situations) are safer.
And, yes, more mass will increase your chances of survival in a crash.. but not because of a stronger cage around you. It has to do do with rate of change in velocity (think bug vs windshield for mass differences), crush zone size (de-accel time/distance) and occupant containment (seat belts). Race cars drivers have survived crashes in cars weighing less than 2,000 lbs - hitting brick walls (straight on) while traveling in excess of 150 mph. Numerous times. It had little to do with the additional mass of their "cage" (or even use exotic materials).
Regardless of this, it is not likely the payloads on 18 wheelers will be reduced to reduce risk to other motorists - there will never be the "political will" to do this. 100,000 lbs against 1,000 lbs or 3,000 lbs - the odds have not changed much with additional 2,000 lbs - the smaller vehicle is going to lose, big time. The only change: chances of hitting a car of equal or smaller mass. And if all cars are lighter, the odds have not changed. The reality is likely to be something between the two extreme examples - a slight increase in risks compared to the avg car on the today.
David: That's quite the claim. Ten years? No fossil fuels. I'd be happy if you were right, but . . .
. . . I remember Popular Science articles in the 70's touting the flying cars we all would be driving by the turn of the century. :-)
As for replacements, I'm good with #1. I think batteries will make incremental improvements over the next several decades.
As for #2, I must have had a Rip Van Winkle moment, and forgive me, I have never heard or read of an inert gas plasma motor. Any links to where the reader might learn more about this technology?
And #3, well, I'd be happy if they could sustain and control hot fusion for more than a femtosecond or so. I understand that if you set a cold fusion reaction cell outside during the day, it does get warmer. Commercializing that may have a few hurdles to overcome.
On a motorcycle you are only allowed 1 accident and you are dead. If all cars are lighter and trucks still weigh 100,000 lbs. the danger still exists. The weight is required to make a safety cage around the occupants so when the 100,000 lb. truck hits you and you bounce down the street the vehicle remains intact instead of crushed like an egg. If the cars are going to be weigh about 1000 lbs then trucks should be downsised to about 25,000 lbs. maximum also.
In an age of globalization and rapid changes through scientific progress, two of our societies' (and economies') main concerns are to satisfy the needs and wishes of the individual and to save precious resources. Cloud computing caters to both of these.
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.