Car Wars Internet Newsletter
Vol. 13, No. 1
January 1, 2010


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.

New Releases

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 recently released.

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.

Gamer Sites

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 <> might resurrect some of the data on these sites.


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.

Drive Offensively,



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 biggest gun.

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 "ka-ka-ka-ka-DOOSH-screeeeech-ka-ka-ka-fwsh-BADOOM" noises.

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, symbiosis.


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 Combat!

Big Bad Toys - Twisted Metal Sweet Tooth Action Figure

Hurricane Entertainment Store - Snake Plissken Chronicles Comics


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 OUT.


Alpha Destructicus

Autowar - Resume

BoardGameGeek - The Game of Life - Forums - Death Race 2010

BoardGameGeek - ThunderRoad - ThunderRoad Variants: Not So Nice Additions

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

Diesel Monkey

Heather Dughi - Steve Jackson Games Art Credits

Facebook - Recruiting Car Wars: The Wacky Races

Fluent Rubbish / Painted Target

Future Highways

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" Accessories

Wonkos Toys and Games - Sponsor of Austin Car Wars League

YouTube - Asphalt Aggression Car


Autoduel Review

Pix's Origin Adventures Blog
June 10, 2009

Burning Rubber

xenoglyph Blog
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!

WarTube Forums
April 13, 2009

Car Wars Quick Description

Armasheddon's Blog
June 20, 2009

Darkwind: War on Wheels Blog
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

Shadowminister Blog
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

BattleGrip Blog
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 everywhere. and
March 31, 2009

Ten Great MMO Settings - Page 2 - Car Wars

January 30, 2009

Toybox Wars

Berin Kinsman's Uncle Bear Blog
June 30, 2008

Unveiling My Inner Geek:  Microsoft Surface Meets Dungeons and Dragons

Games Brief Blog
October 23, 2009


Weasel Scout Buggy #1

Warlands Conversions

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

Wreckage Review

The Dice Tower
January 26, 2004

Why D&D4e suxxorz . . . because it's perfectly balanced.

The Viking Hat GM Blog
June 1, 2009


Auto Crisis

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 Albert's Catalogs?

RPGnet Forums
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

RPGnet Forums
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

Gearbox's Borderlands

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 Forums
June 17, 2004

Recommend Game Using Hot Wheels/Matchbox Car Wars

Geekdo Forums
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)

Crafty Forums
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


Where is Part 2 of the Car Wars story?

By steam_bucky
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 closure.)


Airwolf Themes: Official Television Soundtracks - Downloads - Other Files - The Great Santini's Interstate '76 Music Video

Small Version

Large Version - Rush N' Crush 2009 Game Soundtrack

BoardGameGeek - Rush N' Crush 2009 - CD Cover Images for Game Soundtrack

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


Remedy Entertainment

Remedy Entertainment - Death Rally for Windows

Remedy Entertainment - Discussion Forums - Death Rally

Australian PC Authority - Downloads - Road Wars 3D,road-wars-3d.aspx - 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


Wikipedia - Deathtrack

YouTube - Footage of Cancelled Redline 2: Arena for Sega Dreamcast


5 Games to Throw Down a Black Hole (and 5 We'd Pull Out)
July 30, 2009

4. Carmageddon

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

Defunct Games
December 1, 2009

Game Museum - Game of the Week - Review: Autoduel

Classic Gaming

Rage Preview

August 4, 2007

Reader Review of Autoduel for Apple II

June 12, 2007

New Death Rally Coming from Remedy Blog
October 7, 2009

Prove Your Vehicular Combat Skills in Metal Drift

January 21, 2009

Gearbox's Four-Player Co-Op Sci-Fi Shooter (Updated)

Shack News
August 15, 2007

Steel Dog Alpha Tester Recruitment,1.shtml

August 2, 2009

Steel Dog: Your Role Is a Fighting Machine in this Car Wars,1.shtml

December 8, 2009

Review - Darkwind: War on Wheels

ZAM News
August 27, 2008


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
October-December 2009


MegaForce: Complete 1982 Motion Picture
January 2009

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Warlords of the 21st Century: Complete 1982 Motion Picture
January 2009

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Warlords of the 21st Century: Trailer
July 2009


Battle Force 5: Hot Wheels Animated Series on Cartoon Network - Cached

Cartoon Network
December 2009

Knight Rider 2010: Complete 1994 TV Movie
December 2009

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9


Project Viper: The Ultimate in the Pursuit of Justice


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 Portland.

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 technologies.

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 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 Wednesday's launch.

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

Fox News
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 public...yet.

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 Gallardo, which is said to be the world's fastest police car.

Amsterdam -- The Dutch are about to learn how Italian police catch speeders.

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 in 2004.

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,, 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 Lamborghini.

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

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 said.

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 and military.

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 season.

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 system.

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 pod.

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.

    * McLaren
    * Ferrari
    * Renault
    * BMW

    * Williams
    * Toyota
    * 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 accessories.

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 pursuit.

"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 adventure.

For more details, go to <>.

Man breaks 15 laws in 11 minutes

BBC News
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 road's curb.

The serial offender clocked up further offences for speeding, driving on the hard shoulder, running a set of red lights and failing to stop for police.

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
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 said.

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 hitchhikers.

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 per second.

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 seven-second stop.

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

BBC News
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).

Legal questions

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 one."

DARPA's 'Liquid Laser' Gunship Program Pushes Ahead

By Noah Shachtman
Wired News
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 reports.

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 circulation.

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. - 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
Discovery News
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 impact.

"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 battle.

A third, real-time option was needed. Piezoelectric sensors were the answer.

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
Popular Science
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 Rony Photography

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
Cost: $22,000
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 straight ride.


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.

By MikeChino
November 17, 2009

Battery made of paper charges up

BBC News
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 electric current.

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 likely.

"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.

BBC News
November 5, 2009

Three prototypes of the T.27 model will be developed over the next 16 months.

The manufacturing process, called iStream, has received £9m of investment, half of which came from the government's Technology Strategy Board.

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 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 scale.

"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 Smart car."

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 years.

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 guns.

"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 their use.

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 destroyed.

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.