Car Wars Internet Newsletter
Vol. 13, No. 1
January 1, 2010
THE GUNNERY CHAIR
Happy New Year. It is 2010 but I do not see a retrofitted 1969 Ford
Mustang Boss 429, armed with twin 5.56 mm Microguns and TOW-2 missiles,
patrolling the U.S. Southwest. The good news is the auto-combat gaming
community has several new items to simulate the action of that car
until the real version is developed.
One of the most important news in the past few months is the release of
three Car Wars products on e23, items most autoduellists thought they
would not see until they needed to mind-transfer into a clone because
of old age.
* Car Wars Compendium 2.5
* Car Wars Expansion Set #6: The AADA Vehicle Guide
Volume 1 Counters
* Car Wars City Blocks Set 1
Thank you Fox Barrett, e23 Manager, for giving autoduellists three of
the best New Year's gifts ever months before the winter holidays!
Alderac Entertainment and Rackham released in late November Rush N'
Crush, an auto-combat board game with nicely-designed components. A
print-and-play version has been on BoardGameGeek since 2003. The game
appears to be fast-moving, open to many optional rules and possibly
compatible with Formula D/Formula De tracks.
Warlands, the miniatures auto-combat game released last spring, is
gaining steady support among gamers. The Limited Edition Black Box
Starter Set sold out last summer but the Standard Edition Starter Set
is now available. New post-apocalyptic scenery miniatures have been
Do you remember Death Rally, the addictive top-down combat racing game
from 1996? Death Rally is back and is available as a free download from
Remedy Games, the publisher of Death Rally. The original edition,
written for MS-DOS, has been challenging to run on modern computers.
Remedy Games has been aware of this issue. They have made the new
edition compatible with current Windows computers. A CD is not needed
to run the program.
Wave 1 of Jada's Battle Machines appear to be out of print. Models of
Wave 2 have started to become available from Internet sellers.
I neglected to mention the new Hot Wheels animated series Battle Force
5 on Cartoon Network. I have seen a few episodes. The storylines are
not exciting however some of the vehicles have interesting weapons.
Miniatures of the vehicles became available online and in stores last
summer. The die-cast cars are like the 1987 Matchbox RoadBlasters line
with removable plastic weapons.
Europe has assaulted the autoduelling highways of the Internet in the
past few months. Many of you already know Klaus Bruer has developed an
excellent vehicle design program. Francis Greenaway finally has the
Painted Target Web site online again. Car Wars U.K. is a new blog that
is slowly increasing its content.
Games Workshop issued a cease-and-desist order to BoardGameGeek on
Thanksgiving, requesting several files for their games to be removed
from the Internet. BoardGameGeek's response to prevent legal action was
to remove most files for Games Workshop games. Unfortunately the
casualties in these napalm strikes included files for Battlecars,
Battlebikes and Dark Future. As of January 1st, the Dark Future
Collection, an Adobe Acrobat file created by Francis Greenaway, is
still available from the Games Workshop Web site.
GeoCities has been closed. The result is many Car Wars Web sites have
been sent to Highway One. Several good resources for Car Wars were on
GeoCities sites. I will post a list of the non-functional URLs to SWAT
HQ in a few months. Entering these addresses into the Internet Archive
<http://www.archive.org> might resurrect some of the data on
Last year's WADA League should have been called the DOA League. The
tournament appeared to be Dead
on Arrival. I received almost zero game reports. I suggest a deal. If
you run Car Wars events regularly in 2010, I will post the results
regularly on the Web. If I fail in this task, all of you can direct my
Plush Cthulhu Christmas Wreath to eat me in December 2010.
Mad Max News
Mad Max 4 is officially in production. The Road Warrior Weekend in
California was a success. The event may become an annual gathering.
Photos and accounts of the Desert Duel and updates on Mad Max 4
production can be found on Peter Barton's Mad Max Movies Web site
New Year's Wishes
What do you want for Car Wars and auto-combat gaming in 2010? Make your
thoughts known by posting on a discussion forum, posting on a blog or
sending me e-mail.
STEVE JACKSON GAMES NEWS
Gears, Guns, And Good Times
By Fox Barrett
The Daily Illuminator
October 19, 2009
Once upon a time, there was a game about a land that was having a
terrible time. In this land, the oil was drying up, food was in short
supply, and things were generally looking pretty grim. Then one day, a
man from this land got the idea that it might be fun to stick a .50 cal
machine gun on his car. He was right. It was indeed quite a great deal
of fun. And so was born a game where the right of way went to the
But as time went on, the fun little game about crazy people in cars
shooting at each other faded away. Players moved on to pretending to be
vampires, or amassing suitcases full of cards, or playing with these
tiny men that made clicking noises, or any of a vast number of other
games that primarily revolved around kicking doors and taking things.
The game packed up its bags and headed to the retirement home for
classic games, where it passed away quietly.
. . . Or so everyone thought. Turns out that plucky little game, like
any smart autodueller, had its brain backed up! And so it is that the
Car Wars Compendium rides again through the miracle of modern science!
(Or "e23," as we like to call it.) And it can't wait to teach all these
young punks why "drive offensively" are the two most useful words
they'll ever hear.
e23 - Car Wars Compendium Second Edition Fifth Printing
Free! (Or Close Enough)
By Fox Barrett
The Daily Illuminator
November 10, 2009
But wait! There's more! We also have Car Wars Expansion Set 6 - The
AADA Vehicle Guide Counters for you. (Or "CWRS6TAADAVGC," as we say
around here when we wanna be brief.) This collection of cars, trucks,
and other wheeled death machines is perfect for playing Car Wars. You
might have guessed that from the name, but the title is a bit long, so
I felt it was worth mentioning in case you missed it. This one isn't
quite as free as the other two releases, I'm afraid. But two outta
three ain't bad, right?
e23 - Car Wars Expansion Set 6: The AADA Vehicle Guide Counters
Warehouse 23 News
e23: Put Your Car on Blocks
By Paul Chapman
The Daily Illuminator
December 12, 2009
Car Wars City Blocks, that is! These maps provide an entire town upon
which you may push tiny cars around while you make
e23 - Car Wars City Blocks Volume 1
Once, Twice, Three Times A PDF!
By Fox Barrett
The Daily Illuminator
December 14, 2009
Car Wars City Blocks
Busy week, last week. We released not one, not two, but three PDFs!
First on the list is Car Wars City Blocks. Along with those counters
and these rules, you ought to be able to put together a game of ol' Car
Wars with just what's available on e23. But we have faith that you'll
dutifully let us know what else you still need to play it. Ah,
COMMERCIAL TABLETOP GAMES - NEW RELEASES
Rush N' Crush 2009
Alderac Entertainment Group - Rush N' Crush 2009 Official Web Site
BoardGameGeek - Rush N' Crush 2009
BoardGameGeek - Rush N' Crush 2003
Warlands: Full Throttle Vehicular Combat!
Aberrant Games - Warlands Official Web Site
Aberrant Games Official Forums
Aberrant Games - Downloads
BoardGameGeek - Warlands: Full Throttle Vehicular
Big Bad Toys - Twisted Metal Sweet Tooth Action Figure
Hurricane Entertainment Store - Snake Plissken Chronicles Comics
COMMERCIAL TABLETOP GAMES - UPDATES
Khalsa Brain Games - FormulaRacers Custom Pack
Style A: Modern Formula One
Style B: Endurance Racer
Style C: Muscle Car
Style D: Vintage Formula One
FormulaRacers, our line of race car miniatures designed specifically
for race car board games such as Formula De, Car Wars and Speed
Circuit! These paintable, pewter road demons are sure to add another
level of fun to your races. Four different styles of cars, 10 cars to a
bag. Size of each car is about 11/32"W x 7/8"L. The custom pack allows
you to choose which 10 cars you want in your order. STYLE A IS SOLD
WEB WATCH - GAMER SITES
StephenBeeman.com - Resume
BoardGameGeek - The Game of Life - Forums - Death Race 2010
BoardGameGeek - ThunderRoad - ThunderRoad Variants: Not So Nice
BoardGameGeek - ThunderRoad - RinCon '09 Variant Rules
BoardGameGeek - ThunderRoad - Car Team Tracker
Klaus Bruer's Car Wars Projects
Car Wars UK
Dark Nebula Gaming - Frag Car Wars: Carnage on Wheels
Heather Dughi - Steve Jackson Games Art Credits
Facebook - Recruiting Car Wars: The Wacky Races
Fluent Rubbish / Painted Target
Game Tunnel - Dark Wind Review
Hot Wheels: Battle Force 5 Official Site
Kulkmann's Gamebox - Dark Future
MOCpages - Frankenstein's Monster Mustang
Painted Knights - Car Wars
Post-Apocalyptic Media Downloads - Car Wars
Shiftworld - Autoduel
Vulcan Stev's Database Blog - Car Wars
Wargames Factory - 15mm Matchbox Scale "Car Warriors"
Wonkos Toys and Games - Sponsor of Austin Car Wars League
YouTube - Asphalt Aggression Car
WEB WATCH - BLOG POSTS
Pix's Origin Adventures Blog
June 10, 2009
April 28, 2009
Car Battler Joe vs. Autoduel
Robin Harbron Blog
October 06, 2004
Car Wars Compendium
Purple Pawn Blog
October 19, 2009
Car Wars Reboot Design Goals
Attacks of Opportunity Blog
August 26, 2009
Car Wars: If you don't know, now you know, this is bomb!
April 13, 2009
Car Wars Quick Description
June 20, 2009
Darkwind: War on Wheels
October 07, 2009
Death Race (2008): How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Watching
a Commercial for a Video Game
Christian Lindke's Cinerati Blog
August 26, 2008
Download Dark Future
Felix's Gaming Pages Blog
December 12, 2007
Five Truly Worthy Post-Apocalyptic RPGs
A Character for Every Game Blog
May 25, 2009
Hobby Games: The 100 Best
Zone of Influence Blog
March 23, 2008
How to Survive the Apocalypse
Notes on a Napkin Blog
May 22, 2009
I Like Dying In My Car: Darkwind
Rock, Paper, Shotgun Blog
October 13, 2009
Introducing Sodium One: The Next Evolution of PlayStation Home
December 17, 2009
Matchbox Scale Car Wars Accessories
April 27, 2009
Matt Chat 27: Chuck Bueche's Autoduel
Armchair Arcade Blog
August 29, 2009
Old Game Review: Car Wars
Drake's Flames Blog
December 20, 2007
Post-Apocalypse Car Card Game
Board Game Designers' Forum
July 08, 2009
Rebooting Car Wars
Attacks of Opportunity Wiki
August 25, 2009
Review: Jada Battle Machines 1:64 Scale Diecast Cars
August 14, 2009
Review: Car Wars Fifth Edition
Level 1 Gamer
November 28, 2009
Road Warriors II: Warlands
Mik's Minis Blog
March 7, 2009
Squirrel Motorworks: A Car Wars Corporation
Ian G. Lang Blog
November 2, 2009
Shot to Death by Canon
Coffee Swillin' Analog Gamer Blog
October 23, 2009
A Street-Legal Car of Your Own?
Ever wish your car had rocket launchers, machine guns and was street
legal? Finally, a solution for Bond and road rage enthusiasts
Fark.com and autos.canada.com
March 31, 2009
Ten Great MMO Settings - Page 2 - Car Wars
January 30, 2009
Berin Kinsman's Uncle Bear Blog
June 30, 2008
Unveiling My Inner Geek: Microsoft Surface Meets Dungeons and
Games Brief Blog
October 23, 2009
Weasel Scout Buggy #1
Another for the Warlands
The Spacegamer Blog
November 23 and 25, 2009
Wreckage Game Review and House Rules
Pair O' Dice Games Blog
September 3, 2007
The Dice Tower
January 26, 2004
Why D&D4e suxxorz . . . because it's perfectly balanced.
The Viking Hat GM Blog
June 1, 2009
WEB WATCH - FORUM POSTS
Touch Arcade Forums
December 12, 2009
Battle Machines: Perfect Post-Apocalyptic Vehicles?
The Miniatures Page Forums
August 10, 2009
Car Wars (or Autoduel Champions) meets Mexico's drug cartels
HERO Games Forums
December 13, 2009
Car Wars: Does the Deluxe Compendium include items from the Uncle
October 23, 2007
Car Wars/Axles & Alloys Style Matchbox Car Wars
The Miniatures Page Forums
October 26, 2009
Car Wars - Battle Machines - Cars with Guns oh Yea.
The Miniatures Page Forums
November 13, 2009
Car Wars Compendium on PDF
October 18, 2009
Car Wars and all that
The Miniatures Page Forums
March 12, 2009
Carnifex - Original 50s Style Car / Ratrod
Scratch Made Cars - Car Blueprints Forum
November 11, 2008
Definitive Mad Max game?
Fortress: Ameritrash Forums
December 15, 2009
For Sale: Hot Wheels Autoduel Conversions and Terrain
The Miniatures Page Forums
August 4, 2009
Quarter to Three Forums
August 15, 2007
Killer Karz: What weapons for your vehicle?
The Miniatures Page
August 4, 2009
The Lego Apocalypse
Aberrant Official Forums - Warlands
January 14, 2009
Looking for a post-apocalyptic game
Gaming Trend Forums
May 1, 2005
Parody's Volunteer Work
June 17, 2004
Recommend Game Using Hot Wheels/Matchbox Car Wars
December 12, 2009
Review - Jada Battle Machines 1:64 Scale Die Cast Cars
Autoduelist's Haven Car Wars Yahoo! Group
August 26, 2009
Roleplaying Car Wars: A Targeted Review
November 24, 2009
Rush N' Crush Simultaneous Movement Variant Brewing
Fortress Ameritrash Forums
December 30, 2009
Vehicles and Standard Weapons (for d20 Spycraft)
December 13, 2009
Wasteland PnP RPG in d6 (West End Games) Adaptation
Wasteland Wiki Discussion Forums
September 24, 2008
The Warlock on Firetop Mountain
Do You Remember Forums - Board Games
February 6, 2005
Work in Progress: Road Warrior Mod for Grand Theft Auto San Andreas
October 26, 2004
THE FIRING RANGE
Where is Part 2 of the Car Wars story?
Roll 2d6 Podcast - Episode 16
December 8, 2006
Another great show . . . but . . . where is Part 2 of the Car Wars
story? I need to know what happend to Car Wars! How did such a popular
game end up the the state it is today? ( I know this episode had
nothing to do with Car Wars, but I am Car Wars obsessed and I need
AUTO-COMBAT MEDIA - MUSIC
Airwolf Themes: Official Television Soundtracks
interstate76.com - Downloads - Other Files - The
'76 Music Video
Megaupload.com - Rush N' Crush 2009 Game
BoardGameGeek - Rush N' Crush 2009 - CD Cover Images for
My Space - Warlands Official Game Soundtrack Official Site
CD Baby - Warlands Official Game Soundtrack
CD Baby - OGL Cybernet Official Game Soundtrack
YouTube - MegaForce Theme by 707
AUTO-COMBAT MEDIA - COMPUTER GAMES
Remedy Entertainment - Death Rally for Windows
Remedy Entertainment - Discussion Forums - Death Rally
Australian PC Authority - Downloads - Road Wars 3D
GearDownload.com - Arcade Race Crash
Giveaway of the Day - Road Attack 2.0
Giveaway of the Day - Speed Motors 1.0
Primetime Freeware - Road Attack
ROBLOX - Twisted Metal Car Wars
Sourceforge - CarWars
touchArcade Forums - Deathride: Betrayal
We Group - Mexican Motor Mafia
AUTO-COMBAT MEDIA - COMPUTER GAMES - GAMER
Wikipedia - Deathtrack
YouTube - Footage of Cancelled Redline 2: Arena for Sega
AUTO-COMBAT MEDIA - COMPUTER GAMES - NEWS AND
5 Games to Throw Down a Black Hole (and 5 We'd Pull Out)
July 30, 2009
There hasn't been a truly awesome car combat game since last century,
and if David Jaffe isn't going to step up to the plate and take Twisted
Metal for another lap, it's up to Stainless Games to finish what it
started. Carmageddon and Carmageddon II did what few other racing games
dared -- they made pedestrians fair play. Somewhere on the other side
of a black hole, there's a universe where the Carmageddon series has
been bloodying cow catchers for the past 10 years. Let's go there.
30 Genres of Christmas: Vehicular Combat
December 1, 2009
Game Museum - Game of the Week - Review:
August 4, 2007
Reader Review of Autoduel for Apple II
June 12, 2007
New Death Rally Coming from Remedy
October 7, 2009
Prove Your Vehicular Combat Skills in Metal Drift
January 21, 2009
Gearbox's Four-Player Co-Op Sci-Fi Shooter (Updated)
August 15, 2007
Steel Dog Alpha Tester Recruitment
August 2, 2009
Steel Dog: Your Role Is a Fighting Machine in this Car Wars
December 8, 2009
Review - Darkwind: War on Wheels
August 27, 2008
AUTO-COMBAT MEDIA - MOVIES - NEWS AND REVIEWS
Death Race Prequel is in the Garage
By Ryan Rotten, Managing Editor
August 11, 2009
Death Race Prequel Announced - Why?
By Craig Sharp
August 12, 2009
Death Race Prequel Buzz
By Christopher Monfette
November 16, 2009
Death Race Prequel Casting Lineup Gives Away The Plot
By Katey Rich
November 16, 2009
Death Race - Title, Casting Call and Plot Details Revealed
By The ODI
November 13, 2009
Death Race 2 Details: Go Behind Frank's Mask
By Meredith Woerner
November 16, 2009
Death Race Sequel Drives Directly to Home Video
By Uncle Creepy
November 12, 2009
Mad Max 4 in Production
By Peter Barton
Mad Max Movies.com
AUTO-COMBAT MEDIA - MOVIES - STREAMING VIDEO
MegaForce: Complete 1982 Motion Picture
Warlords of the 21st Century: Complete 1982 Motion Picture
Warlords of the 21st Century: Trailer
AUTO-COMBAT MEDIA - TELEVISION SHOWS -
Battle Force 5: Hot Wheels Animated Series on Cartoon Network
http://www.cartoonnetwork.com/tv_shows/battleforce5/index.html - Cached
Knight Rider 2010: Complete 1994 TV Movie
AUTO-COMBAT MEDIA - TELEVISION SHOWS - FAN
Project Viper: The Ultimate in the Pursuit of Justice
AUTO-COMBAT TECHNOLOGY TODAY
Eugene firm launching three-wheeled electric car
By Tim Christie, Eugene Register-Guard
The Associated Press and KOMO TV 4 Seattle
September 22, 2009
Larry Milligan works inside a "Pulse" electric car prototype in the
Arcimoto company garage in the Whiteaker neighborhood of Eugene, Ore.
(AP Photo/The Register-Guard, Paul Carter)
Eugene, Oregon -- Tucked away in a nondescript garage off an unpaved
alley in Eugene's Whiteaker neighborhood, a group of young
entrepreneurs is trying to catch the next wave of human transport by
building an affordable, rechargable electric vehicle.
The company is called Arcimoto, and it will unveil a prototype of its
first vehicle, the Pulse, on Wednesday at Pioneer Square in downtown
If all goes to plan, customers will be lining up to post $500 deposits
on the first Pulses, which are set to roll off the production line
about this time next year, said Erik Stafl, Arcimoto's 23-year-old CEO.
With the prototype in place, the company hopes to secure up to $10
million in investor funding, open the production facility somewhere in
the Eugene-Springfield area, and employ 30 to 40 employees to build
about 200 to 300 vehicles in the first year, Stafl said.
"We think this is a great place to be," he said.
The Pulse is a three-wheeled, two-seat, fully enclosed electric
vehicle, powered by a 62-horsepower electric motor and energized by
eight 12-volt lead-acid batteries. It features a complete roll cage
around the passenger compartment, and the final product will feature
many of the amenities of modern cars, including power locks and
windows, an MP3-capable stereo system, keyless entry, optional
air-conditioning and, of course, cup holders.
The vehicle should be quick off the line, handle like a sports car and
be fun to drive, with a top speed of about 55 mph, Stafl said. The
range for a base model will be about 50 miles between charges, and the
car can get fully recharged in six to eight hours by plugging it into a
household outlet, he said.
The cost of running the vehicle should be 1 to 2 cents per mile,
compared to 10 cents or more per mile to run a gas car, he said.
Electric vehicles require little maintenance - no oil changes, for
instance - and emit no polluting greenhouse gases.
"A lot of people will be interested in those benefits," he said. "A lot
of people are interested in green technology. They want to save a lot
of money on gas and save the environment at the same time."
Arcimoto is getting into the market at a time when the electric vehicle
industry is starting to take off, and the startup company will face
some stiff competition as it tries to win the hearts, minds and
pocket-books of green-minded consumers.
"It's going to be the Wild West for the next five to 10 years" in the
electric vehicle industry, Stafl said.
Last month, the White House announced $2.4 billion in federal stimulus
funds would go to businesses nationwide to develop electric vehicle
An Arizona company, Electric Transportation Engineering Corp., is
planning to use Oregon cities along the Interstate 5 corridor,
including Eugene, as a testing ground for a network of charging
stations for electric vehicles.
There are dozens of other electronic vehicle - or EV - startups. The
Web site Venturebeat.com tallied no fewer that 30 last year. In
addition, many of the big automobile players are developing their own
offerings. General Motors, Chrysler, Nissan and Ford all plan to
introduce battery-powered electric vehicles next year.
"Unlike when hybrids first came to the U.S., when we had one or two
manufacturers and then others came on board, pretty much everyone is
working on this now," said Jennifer Watts, spokeswoman for the Electric
Drive Transportation Association, a Washington, D.C., trade group.
"It's a race to the market."
Oregon is among the five markets where Nissan plans to sell its first
electric vehicle, called the Leaf. Nissan has said it plans to sell the
Leaf at a price competitive with the Toyota Prius, the popular
gas-electric hybrid vehicle, which has a starting list price of
$22,000. The new Honda Insight, another gas-electric hybrid, has a
starting list price of $19,800.
Persuading consumers to buy a vehicle from an obscure startup company
may be a tough sell, but Stafl said he thinks Arcimoto can carve out a
niche in the EV market. For instance, the company won't try to compete
with Tesla Motors, the California startup whose first model is a
high-performance sports car energized by lithium-ion batteries and
carries a price tag of more than $100,000.
Arcimoto hasn't yet set a price for the Pulse, but plans to list it for
less than $20,000, making it an affordable option for people looking
for a clean, low-maintenance commuter car, he said.
Arcimoto will market the Pulse as a vehicle for people who live in
urban areas and who spend a lot of time commuting or driving around
town, rather than a vehicle intended to replace the family sedan or SUV.
"It's not a vehicle you'd take on a ski trip," he said.
The Pulse also should be attractive to businesses as a delivery
vehicle, Stafl said.
Arcimoto was founded in 2007 by Mark Frohnmayer, son of former
University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer and one of the founders
of GarageGames, a company that develops tools for game makers.
Last year, Frohnmayer hired Stafl, who holds degrees in electrical
engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, to run the company.
Frohnmayer has invested just over $1 million to date in the company,
Stafl said, and the company plans to seek $7.5 million to $10 million
in financing from venture capital firms so that it can start a
production line, Stafl said.
Stafl and a crew of 13, including three refugees from the RV
manufacturing industry, have been working feverishly to get the
prototype, a blue vehicle with a sunroof, completed in time for
The company's current headquarters - a garage off Blair Boulevard with
offices in the back - is a hive of activity as techs work to finish the
vehicle's interior in time for the launch.
Chevy Goes Mad! . . . Max With New Police Cruiser
October 15, 2009
At the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention in
Denver on Monday, Chevrolet introduced the Caprice Police Patrol
Vehicle (PPV), which it hopes to begin delivering to law enforcement
agencies in 2011, and talk about a delivery.
The police Caprice is to be based on a car sold by General Motors'
Australian arm known as the Holden Statesman, and will be built along
side that vehicle in the Down Under city of Elizabeth. Until recently,
GM imported the smaller Pontiac G8 sedan from the same facility.
Pricing and full specifications have not yet been released, but the
current Chevrolet Impala police package starts at $25,000.
Unfortunately, there are no plans to offer the vehicle to the general
2011 Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle
The Caprice PPV will be available with either a V6 or V8 engine, both
flex-fuel capable. The V8 is expected to pump out 355 horsepower, but
with cylinder deactivation should be able to return reasonable fuel
economy. The rear-wheel-drive PPV is fully 10 inches longer than the
outgoing Pontiac G8 sedan, and has a four-wheel independent suspension
tuned for high-performance driving.
Italian Lamborghini cop car on display in Holland
By Associated Press and KOMO TV 4 Seattle
October 8, 2009
Photo: Italian and Swiss police stand near a Lamborghini
which is said to be the world's fastest police car.
Amsterdam -- The Dutch are about to learn how Italian police catch
A Lamborghini police car with a top speed of 202 mph (325 kilometers
per hour) was en route Thursday - presumably within the speed limits -
from Italy to the eastern Dutch city of Ewijk to be the top attraction
at a display of Dutch emergency services.
The car is equipped with the latest gadgetry, such as a medical
platform under the hood that contains a cold box for transferring human
donor organs and a camera up front to record GPS data.
The car was one of several that has been donated by its builders to
Italian police. The 2008 model updated two cars Italian police received
Dutch police spokesman Frank de Valk said the car will highlight a
daylong demonstration Saturday for the public by police commandos,
firefighters and ambulance services.
Some experts say the Lamborghini is the fastest police car in service,
but one Web site, www.gizmag.com, claims a police vehicle from
Germany's Brabus Rocket, an upgraded Mercedes-Benz, clocked 226 mph
(362 kph ) at the 2006 Essen Motor Show.
Italian Police Send Lambo Squad Car to Scrap Yard
By Dave Eyvazzadeh
December 1, 2009
In the Italian town of Cremona, owners of several parked cars came
outside to find a gnarly string of twisted metal. The culprit was the
driver of a year-old Lamborghini Gallardo. But not one person called
the police. They were already there – climbing out of their totaled
That's right, the Italian police just totaled one of their three-strong
Lamborghini fleet donated straight from the car-maker. The 204mph
police package Lambos were outfitted with all kinds of gadgets to make
even Inspector Gadget drool. Among the techy outfitting was a
defibrillator and cooler-chest for donor organ transport.
The Italian Police flagship was on its way back from a display at a
student job fair when it swerved to avoid another vehicle as it pulled
out of a gas station. As it lost control it took out a number of parked
cars before coming to rest beneath a small SUV.
And of course there was no shortage of cell-phone cameras on scene for
all the different angles of the wreckage. You can check some of them
out at Youreporter.it.
With 30 officers specially trained by Lamborghini to drive the vehicle,
we know one Italian police officer that instantly made 29 enemies.
Bullet-resistant clothing brings security, fashion
Photo: Marisha Kelly wears a men's bullet-proof tuxedo shirt and a
woman's quitted vest.
By Suzette Laboy, Associated Press Writer
KOMO TV 4 Seattle
October 8, 2009
Miami, Florida -- It's a sweltering South Florida day but Jorge
Cardenas still wears his hooded zipper sweater when replenishing the
ATMs he owns.
The $1,000, hip-hop style jacket is slightly bulky, yet comfortable and
stylish - and bullet-resistant. "The whole idea is to blend in," he
Cardenas is one of a small number of Americans with high-risk
occupations who wear bullet-resistant clothing that's made to look
normal, not the bulky and obvious vests worn by police officers. It's a
product made by a few, mostly foreign-based companies that don't
advertise heavily, so most individuals and companies don't even know
the clothing exists.
"It's mostly word of mouth," said John Sexton with Sexton Executive
Security, based in Fairfax, Va. Most of his U.S. clients don't request
protective clothing. "The companies that pre-plan for something going
wrong are very much a minority."
First, let's be clear: There is no bulletproof clothing. For every
protective vest, there is a gun whose bullets can pierce it.
But bullet-resistant clothing can offer degrees of protection, from
small-caliber handguns up through high-powered rifles. Prices can range
from less than $1,000 for a simple shirt that protects against many
handguns to several thousand dollars for a stylish leather jacket that
offers maximum protection.
Only one designer, Miguel Caballero, is a major player in the U.S.,
which he sees as a potential growth market. His Colombia-based firm,
which bears his name, sold about $6.4 million worth of bullet-resistant
clothing for civilian use last year, accounting for 40 percent of its
revenue. It also sells traditional bullet-resistant vests to the police
The clothes are manufactured in Colombia with final touches in Mexico,
using thick strands of synthetic fibers known as aramids, tightly woven
and layered to create a bullet-resistant barrier. An office near Miami
serves as the U.S. distribution center.
Items range in price from around $800 to as much as $14,000, depending
on the style, sizing and level of protection. An Italian leather jacket
with the lowest level of protection can run $5,900. Polo T-shirts can
start at around $4,000.
The clothes are meant to be unnoticeable. And while they are heavier
than a regular article of clothing - a polo shirt with medium
protection can weigh just over 4 pounds, while a leather jacket can
weigh between 5 and 6 pounds - new technology has made them lighter and
more functional and fashionable. Those include:
- A system designed to radiate the energy from the point of impact,
reducing the blow on the body
- Waterproof panels that protect against humidity and body sweat
- Custom-made designs
- A fabric that helps regulate body heat.
Some of the company's biggest markets are Mexico, where drug-related
crime is rife, India, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Brazil and the rest of Latin
America. The clothing is also being sold at the luxury store Harrods in
London. Caballero says his clientele include presidents Alvaro Colom of
Guatemala and Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, action-movie star Steven Seagal
and most recently the princess of Thailand.
Cardenas bought his Caballero hoodie in June after police suggested he
needed protection as he loads and removes money from his ATMs. Several
South Florida security companies and armored vehicles have been robbed.
It has Level II protection, which means it would protect against most
handguns used on the streets, but not an assault rifle.
"But we don't expect to be in that type of situation," he says.
Even in the hot summer months, Cardenas wears the jacket every time he
replenishes the ATM machines and doesn't regret the expense: "How much
is your life worth?"
Robert Oatman, president of R.L. Oatman & Associates, a security
and protection firm from Towson, Md., agrees but he doesn't know if the
U.S. will ever be a major market for bullet-resistant clothes - his
clients never ask for it.
"It's not going to be an easy sell. If it's that dangerous, why are you
in that area to begin with?" he said.
But Caballero is undeterred. He is looking into incorporating cashmere
and other luxury items into his collections, especially for women. New
products are being tested that would protect other areas of the body,
such as the legs, plus garments that would safeguard against other
weapons like knives and not just guns.
Caballero, who now lives in Mexico, laughed when asked if he uses his
own product, particularly when traveling in more dangerous countries.
"Where they know me, yes," he said. "Where they don't, no."
Formula One KERS explained
F1 2009: the biggest number of rule changes in the history the sport
By Paul Evans
March 26, 2009
The 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship starts this weekend with
round one in Melbourne Australian where we are about to witness the
biggest number of rule changes in the history the sport. The front and
rear wings have been significantly changed in size and height to reduce
the aerodynamic effect on cars following each other. Many of the
aerodynamic 'extras' added by teams last season around the side pods
will be banned and after 11 years of grooved tires slicks will make a
return. The aerodynamic changes include a first in F1, driver
adjustable front wing flaps.
Although no-one in Formula One will publicly admit it, the sport has
been under pressure from the increasingly successful NASCAR where
constant passing and photo finishes are the weekly norm. The close
racing in NASCAR has won huge race day crowds and global TV audiences,
bringing with it enormous financial success. All the changes being made
to F1 this year are in an effort to increase over taking and to reclaim
the recently questionable status of formula one as the ultimate
automotive research and development series in the world.
The rule changes we're most interested in are those concerning the
introduction of the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) that will
eventually make every future Formula One race car a hybrid. KERS is not
mandatory in 2009 but will be in 2010 and as a result some teams who
have no chance of challenging for the world championship have opted not
to use KERS immediately. To remain competitive in 2009, the usual race
winning teams will all be running KERS this weekend and for the full
The FIA rules governing KERS are fairly simple but very restrictive.
From this season teams are allowed to use KERS to draw 60 Kw of energy
from the rear axle on the car, which can be stored up to a total of
400kJ (111 watt hour) of energy per lap, to be reused in the form of a
'boost' button. In effect the system uses regeneration to collect and
store energy during braking which allows the drivers to use 60 Kw (82
hp) for 6.6 seconds per lap. The teams are free to choose between
either mechanical or electric hybrid systems. Of the ten teams in
Formula One, all bar one have chosen the electric hybrid system with
only Williams pioneering a flywheel mechanical system.
In fact half the teams on the grid, including front runners Ferrari and
Renault, have opted to use the Electric KERS system developed by
Italian Auto electrical supplier Magnetti Marelli. The system itself is
fairly conventional, using a single 60 Kw liquid cooled brushless
direct current (BLDC) motor / generator unit, which operates at around
120 degrees C. The motor is attached to the front of the 2.4 liter V8
and driven by a reduction gear off the crankshaft.
Also included in the system is a KERS control unit, separate from the
Microsoft supplied FIA engine control unit, with a similar operating
temperature to the motor. This is mounted low in the side pod for
cooling. The battery pack is mounted at the bottom of the fuel cell and
in the case of Ferrari is supplied by French Li-ion battery maker Saft.
The teams that will run the Magnetti Marelli system in 2009 include the
previously mentioned Ferrari plus the team they supply motors to, Toro
Rosso. Renault will run the Magnetti Marelli system along with their
satellite team Red Bull Racing. Honda/Brawn may have possibly run
Ferrari engines in 2009 in which case they would have also used the
Magnetti Marelli KERS system but the most likely engine deal now is
with Mercedes. Brawn will be supplied engines alongside McLaren and
Force India and will use the McLaren/Mercedes in-house developed KERS
McLaren Mercedes have been working on their in-house KERS for almost
two years. McLaren actually developed a KERS system in 1999. Mario
Illien created a system for Mercedes in 1999 that used hydraulic fluid
pressure to recover energy lost in braking. It would have provided a
45bhp power boost for four seconds but could have been used many times
per lap. The system developed by McLaren in conjunction with Mercedes
for the 2009 season is an electrical based hybrid system.
BMW started KERS development with Forschung und Technik GmbH, which is
a 100% BMW owned research and technology arm, in mid-2007 and have
announced their system 'race ready'. BMW tested a range of different
solutions and analyzed electric, mechanical, hydraulic and even
pneumatic systems. After several months of research, it was clear that
only an electric system would deliver the required energy, while at the
same time combining maximum safety and, above all, the lowest possible
weight. In the BMW KERS system the batteries are housed in the side
pods for cooling and the control unit is fitted in the right hand side
Williams have decided to take on the task of being the only team in the
field to develop a flywheel system and to do so without the resources
of a major manufacturer behind them. Williams will run Toyota engines,
but more on Toyota in a moment. They acquired of a minority
shareholding in Automotive Hybrid Power Limited, a company developing
high-energy composite flywheels for use in energy recovery systems. The
Williams Hybrid Power system will use a flywheel spinning at up to
40,000 rpm. It has been reported that the flywheel systems is still
being bench tested and has not been track tested as yet. This may
result in Williams not debuting their KERS until Round 7 of the 2009
world championship which takes place in Turkey in early June.
That only leaves Toyota, the company who started the move to hybrids
beginning in 1998. Toyota have decided not to race with KERS in
Melbourne and it is possible that Toyota will not use a KERS system at
any time during the 2009 race season.
It is already known that the Cologne based team will contest the season
opening Australian Grand Prix without the energy re-use technology,
despite the TF109 being fitted with a functioning KERS during testing.
Toyota have been quoted as saying they think KERS is 'primitive' and
not relevant to road car Hybrid systems. Toyota say they have already
had success with a more advanced hybrid system in their Supra HV-R with
which they won the Tokashi 24 hour race by 9 laps over second place.
The technical difference between the two systems is enormous. While
KERS is limited to 60 kw for 6.6 seconds per lap and can only be used
on the rear axle, the Toyota HV-R system has a 150 kw electric motor on
the rear axle plus two 10 kw wheel motors on the front wheels. As 70%
of all braking effort is on the front wheels the Toyota system can
collect a lot more energy per lap.
The FIA rules will grant Toyota their wish of four wheel regeneration
but they will have to wait until 2013. The KERS regulations will allow
the energy storage limit to be doubled to 800 kJ (222 wh) by 2011, and
KERS will be allowed on both axles with up to 200 kW and 1.6 MJ (444
wh) of energy storage per lap from 2013.
Toyota have admitted they came very close to following Honda out of
Formula One at the end of last year and there have been reports that
Toyota have ambitions to race their Hybrid at Le Mans. With Hybrid
rules being introduced to Le Mans this year and flywheel systems being
banned, if the regulations allow four wheel hybrid systems then that
may prove too tempting. Toyota last raced in Le Mans in 1999 and placed
second and may now hope a hybrid race car will take them to victory.
The Peugeot team are taking advantage of the new Le Mans hybrid rules
and have incorporated the Magnetti Marelli hybrid system into their 908
HY V12 diesel sports prototype. The Peugeot will have 60kw (80 hp) for
up to 20 seconds per lap.
The KERS system adds an extra 30 kg (66 lb) weight to the car which
effects weight distribution and tire wear. The minimum weight of 605 kg
stipulated for the cars in the regulations includes the driver. The
difference between the actual weight and minimum weight is leveled out
by positioning ballast around the car to optimum effect. Traditionally,
this means that a heavier driver has been at a disadvantage as he has
had less ballast to balance out the car. Using KERS will further reduce
- by the weight of the system - the amount of ballast available. In
order to prevent F1 from becoming even more of a jockeys' competition
some teams such as BMW are pushing for an increase of the minimum
weight in the future. Many drivers have reported putting extra effort
into reducing their weight, although it must be said they are all very
light to start with.
The drivers will be kept especially busy in the cockpit this year
learning how best to use the new systems. With KERS having only 111
watt hours of energy storage capacity and all of the energy coming from
the rear axle under braking, there may be more than a few exciting
moments where mid way through a heavy braking zone, as the battery
becomes full, the rear brake balance will suddenly change perhaps
resulting in the odd spin or two.
An added distraction is the driver adjustable front wing which many
have speculated will be used at the exact same time as the KERS boost
button to momentarily reduce drag during a passing maneuver.
Most Formula One cars in 2009 will be wearing "High Voltage" warning
stickers for the first time. Insulated gloves and color-coding will
help keep F1 marshals safe from the dangers of new KERS technology
while Puma have developed a new insulated shoe for drivers. The cars
will also carry a KERS status warning light so it should be clear to a
marshal who walks up to the car that if the status light is in the
wrong state, he shouldn't touch the car.
In July 2008 a mechanic received a powerful shock after touching the
steering wheel and side pod of a BMW F1 car fitted with the KERS
prototype. After six weeks of investigation, the team determined that
the shock was due to a high-frequency AC voltage between the two
contact points, the cause of which was traced back to the KERS control
unit and a sporadic capacitive coupling from the high-voltage network
to the 12-volt network. The voltage ran through the wiring of the
12-volt network to the steering wheel and through the carbon chassis
back to the control unit.
The analysis, in addition to identifying the problem and pointing to
solutions, resulted in other recommendations for the development of
electric KERS systems. Among the measures arrived at are changes in the
design of the control unit to avoid capacitive coupling effects,
extended monitoring functions for high frequencies and a conductive
connection of the chassis components to avoid any electric potential.
The Electric Future
The FIA must be congratulated for being the first motorsport
sanctioning body in the world to introduce hybrid systems to a
professional racing series. It did take them a while to wake up to the
fact that having teams spending so much time in wind tunnels meant that
the winning teams had to own one or two of their own, a factor that had
become increasing irrelevant to any kind of road car application. Now
with the emphasis squarely on putting the best and brightest to work on
developing electric hybrid technology we can most definitely look
forward to seeing what effect the red hot competition of Formula One
racing can do for EV technology.
* Force India
Teams that may or may not race with KERS in Melbourne:
* Redbull racing
* Toro rosso
* Brawn (Honda)
The big question is - will it mean more exciting racing? Let us know
your thoughts in the comments section... and check out the Red Bull
video explaining new rules and KERS below.
A street-legal spy car of your very own?
Photo: The ultimate spy car edition includes: Front grill rockets,
machine gun cannons, revolving licence plate and other must have
Keith Morgan, Canwest News Service
March 31, 2009
Spy fantasists can now buy their very own James Bond car, complete with
hood-mounted machine gun cannons and rocket launchers secreted by the
front grille, for just $125,900 U.S. -- and it's even street legal.
"The weaponry is fake, of course, so it doesn't work but it looks
realistic," says Cloverdale businessman Mark Stuzka, who has teamed up
with Exclusive Motor Cars to produce the Ultimate Spy Car.
"Neither can it be operated when the ignition is switched on, as the
last thing we want is people ahead being frightened to death at the
sight of a cannon in their rear-view mirror."
The revolving licence plate also won't flip while driving, so don't
think you can beat that speeding ticket by displaying a phoney number!
Stuzka will display the custom supercar, inspired by the Aston Martin
featured in the James Bond movie Die Another Day, at the Vancouver
International Auto Show this week, and will be taking orders.
"We plan to produce just 200 in the next four years so they will keep
their value as a collectable car," he says. "In the first three months,
we have already sold 20 per cent of the production run.
"We are getting calls from all over the world, including Belgium where
a man there has changed his name legally to James Bond."
Stuzka said he came up with the idea when he and friends were thinking
of building supercars for people who don't have a million dollars.
"It just seemed like a great idea and we soon realized there was a
great opportunity here to fulfil some people's spy fantasies," he says.
The Ultimate Spy Car is hand-built and sits on a Ford Mustang chassis
with an extended wheelbase. Under the hood is a supercharged Ford V8
engine that delivers power Bond would be happy with during an escape or
"The beauty of this car is it can be serviced at your local Ford
dealership and it uses parts widely available," adds Stuzka.
You can choose either manual or automatic transmission and pick your
own exterior and interior colours.
Then, when it is delivered, retrieve the complimentary bottle of Dom
Perignon and two glasses from the glove box and toast your new life of
For more details, go to
Man breaks 15 laws in 11 minutes
October 20, 2009
A driver has confounded Swiss police by committing 15 traffic
violations in just over 10 minutes, officials say.
The 47-year-old initially raced past an unmarked police car in heavy
rain at 160 km/h (100mph) before weaving close to other cars and the
The serial offender clocked up further offences for speeding, driving
on the hard shoulder, running a set of red lights and failing to stop
When finally pulled over by St Gallen police, he failed a drugs test.
The unnamed driver, who lives near Zurich, faces a lengthy driving ban
and a possible jail sentence when he appears before a Swiss court.
"I can't remember a case this serious," a police spokeswoman told the
BBC of Sunday's infringement spree. "It's remarkable."
Navy testing two pricey, super-fast warships
50-mph vessels use steerable waterjets instead of propellers and rudders
Associated Press and MSNBC.com
October 22, 2009
Photo: The combat ship Independence undergoes sea trials on July 12 in
the Gulf of Mexico. It can travel at 50 mph for a four-hour period.
Dennis Griggs / U.S. Navy via AP
Photo: The Independence is seen at sea on July 12. Dennis Griggs / U.S.
Navy via AP
Bath, Maine -- The Navy's need for speed is being answered by a pair of
warships that have reached freeway speeds during testing at sea.
Independence, a 418-foot warship built in Alabama, boasts a top speed
in excess of 45 knots, or about 52 mph, and sustained 44 knots for four
hours during builder trials that wrapped up this month off the Gulf
Coast. The 378-foot Freedom, a ship built in Wisconsin by a competing
defense contractor, has put up similar numbers.
Both versions of the Littoral Combat Ship use powerful diesel engines,
as well as gas turbines for extra speed. They use steerable waterjets
instead of propellers and rudders and have shallower drafts than
conventional warships, letting them zoom close to shore.
The ships, better able to chase down pirates, have been fast-tracked
because the Navy wants vessels that can operate in coastal, or
littoral, waters. Freedom is due to be deployed next year, two years
ahead of schedule.
Up to 55 could be built
Independence is an aluminum, tri-hulled warship built by Austal USA in
Mobile, Ala. The lead contractor is Maine's Bath Iron Works, a
subsidiary of General Dynamics.
Lockheed Martin Corp. is leading the team that built Freedom in
Marinette, Wis. It looks more like a conventional warship, with a
single hull made of steel.
The stakes are high for both teams. The Navy plans to select Lockheed
Martin or General Dynamics, but not both, as the builder. The Navy has
ordered one more ship from each of the teams before it chooses the
final design. Eventually, the Navy wants to build up to 55 of them.
Speed has long been relished by Navy skippers. Capt. John Paul Jones,
sometimes described as father of the U.S. Navy, summed it up this way
in 1778: "I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail
fast; for I intend to go in harm's way."
Eric Wertheim, author and editor of the U.S. Naval Institute's "Guide
to Combat Fleets of the World," said speed is a good thing, but it
comes at a cost.
"This is really something revolutionary," Wertheim said. "The question
is how important and how expensive is this burst of speed?"
Each could cost $460 million
Early cost estimates for Littoral Combat Ships were about $220 million
apiece, but costs spiraled because of the Navy's requirements and its
desire to expedite construction. The cost of the ships is capped at
$460 million apiece, starting in the new fiscal year.
Both ships are built to accommodate helicopters and mission "modules"
for either anti-submarine missions, mine removal or traditional surface
warfare. The modules are designed to be swapped out within 24 hours,
allowing the ships to adapt quickly to new missions.
While they're fast, they aren't necessarily the fastest military ships
afloat. The Navy used to have missile-equipped hydrofoils and the
Marines' air-cushioned landing craft is capable of similar speeds,
Wertheim said. And smaller ships are capable of higher speeds.
Nonetheless, the speed is impressive, especially considering that other
large naval vessels have been cruising along at a relatively pokey 30
to 35 knots for decades.
Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, noted
that Independence sustained 44 knots despite a 30-knot headwind and 6-
to 8-foot seas in Alabama's Mobile Bay. "For a ship of this size, it's
simply unheard of to sustain that rate of speed for four hours," he
How Formula 1 Crews Overclock the Pit Stop
By Tony Borroz
October 19, 2009
In the seven seconds it takes to complete an average Grand Prix pit
stop, a driver will get four fresh tires, a tank of fuel, an inspection
to remove debris from nooks and crannies, and maybe some shiny new
parts to replace any track casualties. It's a hyperdrive time warp
where jobs that might take an afternoon at your local garage are
crammed into a few heartbeats. Dozens of mechanics work in
choreographed synchrony, while team managers analyze every detail of
every task down to hundredths of a second. We talked to Red Bull
Racing's own in-house clock watcher, Jonathan Wheatley, to find out
what happens during the longest seven seconds in motor sports.
115.8 man-seconds of work are completed in just 7 seconds.
Jacks: 1.2 man-seconds
Two jack men — one in front, one in back — lift the car a few inches so
service can commence. The Red Bull jack is a simple mechanical lever
(fewer parts to jam or fail) with a collapsible frame. Instead of
letting the racer down gently when the work is done, a jack man pulls a
switch to drop it to the ground.
Junk Removal: 2 man-seconds
If even a shred of a plastic bag gets into the guts of an F1 car, it
could be curtains for the race — maybe even for the engine. So when the
pneumatic gun operators are done locking down the tires, two of them
reach into the scorching radiator inlets and check for dangerous
Tires: 48 man-seconds
A dozen crew members swap out the tires, three on each wheel. One works
the pneumatic gun, one pulls off the old shoe, and one mounts the new
rubber (prewarmed to between 176 and 212 degrees). Then the gun man
refastens the wheel nut — in Red Bull's case, to a staggering 700 lb-ft.
Fuel: 11.6 man-seconds
It takes two crew members to handle an F1 fuel rig, one on the nozzle
and one just to wrangle the massive hose. The amount for each fill-up
is planned by race engineers and preloaded into the line. Once
connected, the go-juice is pumped at an officially mandated 3.2 gallons
Part Swaps: 53 man-seconds
The most frequently damaged part of an F1 racer is the nose assembly.
Because it doubles as a jacking point, when a new front end is needed,
the front wheel men must lift up the car and set it on a carbon-fiber
box. If all goes well, the team can change out a nose during an average
Maybe These Massive Wheel Spikes Shouldn't be Legal
By Jason Torchinsky
Boing Boing Blog
July 31, 2009
By nature, I'm not a guy particularly interested in safety concerns,
but when I saw these massive wheel spikes on this big rig on the 5
freeway the other day, I couldn't help but wonder if having something
normally associated with a brutal chariot race is such a hot idea.
This picture doesn't quite do them justice, but these spikes are no
joke; they could easily turn a close call into a harrowing, screaming
gash torn into the bodywork of your car. I've never seen these before,
but, then again, I don't really do that much driving in a
post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland ruled by gangs of mechanized toughs.
'Superlorry' grounded by police
December 1, 2009
A 25.25m (83ft) long so-called superlorry has been blocked from being
driven on public roads by police in Lincolnshire.
The new longer vehicle was being driven from the headquarters of owners
Denby Transport, in Lincoln, when it was stopped earlier.
Police said the vehicle was unlawful due to its length.
Denby Transport said its lawyers believe the lorry complies with all
the current regulations.
A spokesperson for Lincolnshire Police said: "There are a set of
'construction and use' regulations within British law which cover the
use of motor vehicles on UK roads.
"These include regulations on length, width and towing capacities of
various classes of vehicles.
"If the Denby road train falls outside these definitions then it will
be deemed to be illegal on UK roads.
"Therefore Lincolnshire Police will be enforcing the law and stopping
the road train to investigate any . . . offences which may be found."
By comparison, a normal articulated lorry is 16.5m (54ft) long and a
"bendy-bus" is 18m (59ft).
The lorry's owner, Denby Transport, wants to bring it to Britain's
roads because it says that for lightweight goods such as cereals and
aluminium cans, conventional lorries run out of space before they run
out of weight.
The new lorry would be able to take more of these goods, even though it
would still have to respect the UK weight limit of 44 tonnes.
The company has been working on the project for nearly eight years.
Denby's lawyers said it complies with all the current regulations.
The government disagrees, saying it is illegal and that it will not be
allowing longer vehicles on the roads for the foreseeable future.
Dick Denby, from Denby Transport, said: "We're trying to clarify and
test the law - we're not trying to flout it.
"If the law decides they are illegal we'll pull it off the roads. If
the law decides they are quite legal, everyone who wants one can have
DARPA's 'Liquid Laser' Gunship Program Pushes Ahead
By Noah Shachtman
November 17, 2009
The Pentagon's mad science arm is moving ahead with a project to build
a laser weapon "compact enough to be carried on board a tactical
aircraft - say a B-1B bomber or an AC-130 gunship," Aviation Week
Darpa is getting ready to hand out 24-month research contracts to
defense contractors Textron or General Atomics for the next phase of
its High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS) program. In
the works since 2003, the program is now looking to "build and
ground-test" a 150 kilowatt laser weighing about 750 kilograms early in
2012. If it works, the result would not only be a power-to-weight ratio
ten times better than existing laser systems. It could mean the next
step in giving the U.S. a fleet of laser-blasting aircraft.
Lasers all work in pretty much the same way: Excite certain kinds of
atoms, and light particles — photons — radiate out. Reflect that light
back into the excited atoms, and more photons appear. But performance
varies wildly, depending on the kind of "gain medium" — the type of
atoms — you use to generate the beam. Textron is looking to use thin
crystal slabs, if it gets the HELLADS contract. But those kind of
lasers can rapidly overheat and suffer damage (a laser with a 50%
efficiency generates the same amount of waste heat as the energy in the
beam). A "liquid laser" like General Atomics approach to HELLADS should
be less vulnerable to this, since the liquid can be cooled by
It's one of several new ray gun research projects the military is
launching, as laser weapons draw closer and closer to reality. The U.S.
Air Force wants to figure out how the blasters will be incorporated
into the national airspace and air traffic control system. The Navy,
meanwhile, is looking to build "small, lightweight, and efficient
packaging" to protect sensors from energy weapon attacks.
HowStuffWorks.com - How Body Armor Works
Smart' Armor Learns More With Every Bullet
State-of-the-art armor can evaluate its own condition and relay that
information to soldiers in real time.
By Eric Bland
November 23, 2009
Smart armor being developed by scientists and engineers at U.S. Army
Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center in
Michigan can not only predict its own failure, but also identify the
size of bullets shot at it and even generate electrical power upon
"As a kid, everyone played those video games that showed you how much
armor you had left as a percentage bar," said John Wray, a TARDEC
contractor. "That's exactly what we're working on here and more."
Intelligent armor is based on piezoelectrics, or materials that
generate a small voltage when bent. The reverse is also true: Apply a
small voltage, and a piezoelectric material will bend.
The sensors TARDEC scientists are installing on armor plates use both
features. The armor itself isn't new, but the sensors are.
Each plate of armor, whether its wrapped around a soldier's body or a
vehicle's chassis, has two piezeoelectric sensors attached to it.
An electric current flows into one sensor and turns it into mechanical
energy in the form of a tiny vibration that ripples through the armor
plate. The other piezoelectric device takes that mechanical vibration
and turns it back into electrical energy.
Anywhere from five to 15 volts of electricity is pumped into, and out
of, an intact plate of armor. If the armor has been damaged by bullets,
shrapnel or anything else, some of the current released into the armor
won't be picked up on the other end.
By measuring just how much energy is lost, the TARDEC scientists can
determine how damaged the armor is.
The research into intelligent armor began several years ago, says
Thomas Meitzler, a research scientist at TARDEC developing the
intelligent armor. The Army approached TARDEC about finding a way to
measure armor's integrity in the field.
"Right now, there are really only two ways to evaluate the health of a
vehicle's armor," said Meitzler. "One is to get out and manually
inspect the armor. The other is to bring it to a vehicle depot for an
ultrasound." Neither option is ideal when soldiers are in the middle of
A third, real-time option was needed. Piezoelectric sensors were the
The piezoelectric sensors don't just monitor armor's integrity. They
also could help to make it stronger.
Each bullet striking the armor would create an electricity generating
shock wave. It wouldn't be much electricity, says Meitzler, certainly
not enough to power the vehicle, but it would be enough to run a small
sensor if enough bullets hit the armor plating.
Each bullet would create a slightly different amount of electricity as
well. Complex mathematical algorithms, also being developed at TARDEC,
would analyze the amount of electricity generated by a bullet's impact
and discover what kind of round was used.
A .22 caliber bullet, for example, will generate less electricity
compared with a .45 caliber bullet.
The combination of knowing your opponent's weaponry and having
real-time information about the integrity of the armor could save the
soldiers' lives. "If you know that one side of the armor is weakening,
you could turn the vehicle to protect that side," said Meitzler.
Other scientists are enthusiastic about the research.
John Ohab, the Department of Defense's new technology strategist,
thought of Star Trek when he heard of the new armor sensors. "There was
always damage to a certain part of the ship and a graphic that
displayed what part was injured," he said.
Armored vehicles and soldiers could be just the start, says Ohab,
adding that he doesn't see any reason why the sensors couldn't
eventually be deployed on ships or aircraft.
Vladimir Genis, a professor of applied engineering technology who also
develops piezoelectric devices at Drexel University, was also impressed
with the research.
"This is an absolutely excellent idea," said Genis. "There is so much
energy that simply disappears. If we can even capture a portion of that
energy, we could power a multitude of electrical devices."
You Built What?! The Luxury Motorcycle Sidecar
A French builder attaches the body of a sports car to a motorcycle
By Gregory Mone
November 30, 2009
Red Hot The sidecar's design is inspired by the look of a Lamborghini
and the McLaren F1, and the color is a tribute to Ferrari. Philippe
Hop In: The sole door opens Lamborghini-style, driven by
an electric motor. Philippe Rony Photography
In 1989, François Knorreck took a long ride in the sidecar of a
friend's motorcycle and enjoyed it so much that he decided to build a
rig of his own. Now, 20 years, 63 bodywork molds and innumerable
headaches later, he has it: a handcrafted masterpiece that's part
motorcycle, part Lamborghini.
Knorreck, a 45-year-old French medical technician, started by sketching
pencil designs and then built a full-size wooden model. He had worked
on motorcycles in the past, but figuring out how to distribute the
sidecar's weight and where to position its single wheel were wholly new
challenges. After determining the dimensions, he machined an aluminum
chassis and moved the sidecar's wheel forward to keep the vehicle
stable and prevent it from veering. He also had to beef up the
motorcycle's headstock bearing—a piece of the steering column that
bears most of the sidecar's weight.
At the motorcycle's controls, Knorreck has pushed the vehicle to 125
miles an hour, near its estimated top speed, but never intends to fully
open it up. After all, he says, despite the sidecar's looks, it's only
along for the ride.
Time: Ten years
An Artistic Masterpiece : "The part that I'm most proud of is the
bodywork," Knorreck says. "Not the design, but the high level of
finishing." Philippe Rony Photography
The sidecar isn't merely welded to the motorcycle -- the two are
seamlessly linked, from the chassis to the wiring to the carbon-fiber,
hand-crafted body. Getting the two pieces to work in concert was no
easy feat. With the sidecar's wheel positioned too far forward or back,
the off-kilter weight distribution could cause the bike and sidecar to
roll forward and to the right. (Errors distributing the vehicle's 877
pounds could also put excess strain on the frame, leading to structural
cracks.) To remedy these problems, Knorreck built an adjustable
aluminum chassis so he could tinker with the wheelbase and other
elements to see what worked best before adding interior parts. He found
that moving the sidecar's wheel forward just enough, relative to the
motorcycle's rear one, provided additional stability and ensured a
The original motorcycle had a gravity-fed system in which the fuel ran
down to the carburetors from above. But Knorreck found that he had to
relocate the tank and place it underneath the body of the sidecar. Then
he added an electrical pump to route the fuel to the engine.
Knorreck built the entire frame and body of the sidecar (he had to make
63 different molds by hand to create its various carbon-fiber panels),
but he's no upholsterer, so he had a friend custom-manufacture the
seats. Just in case tooling around in a freakishly cool sidecar wasn't
enough for his passengers (it can seat two at a time), he installed a
stereo system. For that, however, he kept costs to a minimum, using an
old radio from his father.
Engineered Bacteria Glow to Reveal Land Mines
Sifting through minefields to remove hidden threats is a dangerous,
tedious, and expensive process. Scientists at the University of
Edinburgh recently announced that they have engineered a strain of
bacteria that glows green in the presence of explosives, making mine
detection a snap. The new strain of bacteria can be sprayed onto local
affected areas or air-dropped over entire fields of mines. Within a few
hours the bacteria strain begins to glow wherever traces of explosive
chemicals are present.
November 17, 2009
Battery made of paper charges up
December 8, 2009
Batteries made from plain copier paper could make for future energy
storage that is truly paper thin.
The approach relies on the use of carbon nanotubes - tiny cylinders of
carbon - to collect electric charge.
While small-scale nanotube batteries have been demonstrated before, the
plain paper approach lends itself to making larger devices more cheaply.
The work, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
could lead to "paintable" energy storage.
Because of its structure of millions of tiny, interconnected fibres,
paper is a good candidate to hold on to carbon nanotubes, providing a
scaffold on which to build devices.
However, paper is also mechanically tough, and can be bent, curled or
folded, more than the metal or plastic surfaces that are currently used
or under development.
Good on paper
A team of researchers at Stanford University started with off-the-shelf
copier paper, painting it with an "ink" made of carbon nanotubes.
The coated paper is then dipped in lithium-containing solutions and an
electrolyte to provide the chemical reaction that generates a battery's
The paper acts to collect the electric charge from the reaction. Using
paper in this way could reduce the weight of batteries, typically made
with metal current collectors, by 20%.
The team's batteries are also capable of releasing their stored energy
quickly. That is a valuable characteristic for applications that need
quick bursts of energy, such as electric vehicles - although the team
has no immediate plans to develop vehicle batteries.
Liangbing Hu, lead author on the research, said the most important
aspect of the demonstration was that paper is an inexpensive and
well-understood material - making wider usage of the technology more
"Standard copier paper used in our everyday life can be a solution in
storing energy in a more efficient and cheap way," Dr. Hu told BBC News.
"The experienced technology developed in the paper industry over a
century can be transferred to improve the process and performance of
these paper-based devices."
The team says that adaptations to the technique in the future could
allow for simply painting the nanotube ink and active materials onto
surfaces such as walls.
They have even experimented with a number of textiles, paving the way
for batteries made largely of cloth.
F1 designer unveils electric car
An electric car created by the McLaren F1 'supercar'
road car designer Gordon Murray has been unveiled.
November 5, 2009
Three prototypes of the T.27 model will be developed over the next 16
The manufacturing process, called iStream, has received £9m of
investment, half of which came from the government's Technology
iStream plants can be just one fifth of the size of a conventional car
factory, as the cars are not made from stamped steel.
All the parts are designed by computer and welded together rather than
being stamped out of metal sheets, explained David Bott, director of
innovation platforms at the Technology Strategy Board.
"It's a very radical approach to manufacturing," he told the BBC.
"Usually you talk about high value, or low carbon, or resource
efficient manufacturing - this ticks all those boxes."
The T.27 car is designed for city or town use. Its predecessor, the
T.25, weighs 600kg - half the weight of an average small family car.
"Cars don't tend to be heavy because of safety; they tend to be heavy
because of luxury," added Mr Bott.
"The tubular frame of the T.27 is designed to absorb energy. It will
pass all the relevant safety tests."
Gordon Murray, F1 designer and inventor of iStream, has been refining
the technology since 1999, and has recruited former colleagues from his
days at F1.
"The thinking is similar to McLaren's," he said. "It's all about
efficiency and being lightweight, but in urban vehicles."
The most expensive part of any electric car is the battery, he added.
So in order to be energy efficient, they need to be lightweight.
The T.27 can reach 60 miles per hour and is designed to travel up to
100 miles in between recharges.
"It's for commuting, picking the kids up, that sort of thing," said Mr
Murray, who drives a Smartcar.
"We're not saying get rid of your station wagon but it's where car use
must go - rather than having a couple of big cars in the family."
The Jet Fighter Laser Cannon
slashdot.org and The Register
November 17, 2009
fahrbot-bot sends in a Register piece about DARPA issuing the
penultimate contract for what is intended to be a jet-mounted laser
cannon. The Reg outdoes itself in a BOTEC involving downsizing to shark
"The US military will shortly issue a brace of contracts for
'refrigerator sized' laser blaster cannons. One of the deals will see a
full-power ground prototype built which will be the final stage prior
to America's first raygun-equipped jet fighter . . . If it scales down
far enough, this would seem to put handheld HELL-guns within an order
of magnitude of the striking power offered by conventional small-arms.
A 9mm pistol bullet has about 750 joules muzzle energy: a 5kg portable
HELL-ray weapon would put out this much energy in a blast less than a
second long . . . A dolphin can carry a human being weighing up to
100kg along for a ride. A thoroughbred shark in good training can
surely match this. Thus, we seem to be looking at practicable
head-[laser] output in the 20-kilowatt range."
Retrofitted Vehicles Offer Window Into Mexico's Cartels
By Marc Lacey
New York Times
December 12, 2009
Culiacán, Mexico -- Federico Solórzano is no used car
salesman, but he seemed to be getting into the part as he made the
rounds of a well-stocked car lot the other day.
"This is a 2009 Lincoln S.U.V.," he said, gesturing toward a decked-out
vehicle to his right. "Over there, we have two Corvettes. Here's a
He was dressed in camouflage, and affixed to his shoulder were a golden
eagle and single star, which gave away his real job as a Mexican Army
general. But besides commanding the counternarcotics troops here in
Sinaloa, the northwestern state that is the cradle of Mexican drug
trafficking, General Solórzano also manages a huge used-car lot
made up of vehicles the army has seized in Sinaloa over the past three
It turns out that much can be learned about the drug traffickers that
the Mexican Army is combating by examining the 765 vehicles crowding
the military base here awaiting disposition from the courts. If you are
what you drive, drug dealers are devious, malicious, extravagant and
quite conscious about security.
In some of the impounded vehicles, traffickers have installed hidden
compartments, trap doors and fake sidewalls to hide drugs, drug profits
and the arms they use to protect them.
"We noticed the screws here weren't right," said General
Solórzano, pulling off a fake rear bumper from what appeared a
garden-variety pickup truck. Hidden inside, he said, were cocaine and
"And look at this," he said, walking on to a Ford pickup, where he said
$3 million in cash was recovered in November 2008.
Many of the vehicles that are seized during drug busts or traffic stops
turn out to be armored. While bulletproofing is not illegal, General
Solórzano said vehicles that had been sealed with metal and
inch-thick glass raised the suspicion of soldiers and prompted them to
search more vigorously for contraband.
The fact that some cars have been on the lot for as long as three years
is a sign of the plodding nature of judicial proceedings in Mexico,
where critics say guilt and innocence do not necessarily correlate to
convictions and acquittals. Eventually, cars that are linked to
criminal activity will be sold or given to government agencies for
In the meantime, though, they fill General Solórzano's lot,
where oversize Hummer-like vehicles able to navigate rugged country
roads are clearly a favorite. Luxury brands predominate, but they are
mixed with rusted-out Buicks and vanilla Volkswagens.
"I have Jaguars; I have a Rolls Royce," said the general, a 34-year
military veteran, rattling off his top-end models. "This is a Mercedes.
That, over there, is a classic Cadillac."
Drug dealers are not all work and no play, which is clear from the
motorcycle section of the lot. There are custom-made choppers with
impossibly long front ends, a handmade bike retrofitted with an engine
pulled from a pickup and a ghastly black machine in which the
handlebars are made to resemble bones.
Classic cars are popular, including a refurbished Chevy painted like a
Chicago police car from the Al Capone days.
The devious nature of the traffickers can be seen in some of the
weaponry they install, which General Solórzano suspects is done
in their own chop shops. Traffickers put a turret in one truck,
allowing them to raise a machine gun through the roof while remaining
safely inside a bulletproof chamber below.
Traffickers have also added fog machines to the back of their vehicles,
allowing them to lose the authorities in a cloud of smoke. Another way
they stymie the pursuing federal police is by pulling a lever on the
dash and unleashing a cascade of twisted and sharpened nails.
As of January 2009, the Mexican government reported that it had seized
14,441 vehicles nationwide, on top of huge quantities of drugs, money
and guns. The fact that the army keeps these vehicles on its bases
instead of in an impound lot is telling, too. Drug gangs have sometimes
carried out armed assaults to try to get the vehicles back, perhaps
because so much money has been spent retrofitting them.
In a twist on that, men suspected of being traffickers attacked a car
lot in Tijuana recently in what the authorities described as an effort
to intimidate the police. The assailants used gasoline to burn 28
trucks at a Mazda dealership that were in the process of being
purchased for use as police transport vehicles. Six of them were
And cars are not the only form of transportation that the cartels will
bend over backward to recover. Last year, a group of about 20 men
stormed a small air field in Sinaloa and made off with five small
planes that had been seized by the army months before. The army now
keeps such planes under armed guard, with nearly 100 of them tethered
to the runway at the airport here in Culiacán.
What can make the seizures depressing for the military is the fact that
many of vehicles taken from criminals are newer, faster and better
equipped than the troop carriers the army uses.
"They have money," the general said, rubbing his fingers together.
Meanwhile, a tow truck rolled through the base pulling a sports utility
vehicle, increasing General Solórzano's inventory to 766.