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The month in tech: Tesla charges coast to coast

(Tesla Motors)

(Tesla Motors)

A monthly roundup of the latest car technology news.

Tesla rolls out coast-to-coast charging in US

Tesla Motors chief executive and co-founder Elon Musk announced its North American supercharging network now provides free electricity to Model S owners from New York to Los Angeles, a little more than a year after the first station opened. The superchargers replenish  top-specification Model S sedans with half their charge in 20 minutes, Tesla claims. The US and Canada network consists of 71 stations, and by 2015 Tesla says 98% of the US population will be within range of a supercharger.

Shining a light on head-up displays

(Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

(Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed an advanced transparent glass that they say could find use in head-up displays, or HUDs. Automotive HUD units currently rely on mirrors and beam-splitters to display images onto glass. That tech has its drawbacks, such as limited visibility at varying angles, and considerable expense. But MIT’s researchers say the new system scatters nanoparticles embedded in the glass at specific wavelengths, which increases visibility at various angles while allowing the glass to be virtually transparent and, they add, less expensive to produce than current HUD units.

Electrified delivery

(Nissan North America)

(Nissan North America)

Nissan is teaming with FedEx to test its e-NV200 all-electric van within the delivery company's Washington DC fleet. The van first debuted in 2012 as a concept, and has since been tested in Japan, Singapore and Britain, but the FedEx trial represents the first field test of the e-NV200 in the US. Nissan intends to ramp up production of the e-NV200 for the European market later in 2014.

BMW's i3 syncs with a smart watch

(BMW Group)

(BMW Group)

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month, BMW introduced a bit of high-tech connectivity that pairs its i3 electric car to Samsung's Galaxy Gear smart watch.

Using BMW's i Remote App, the Galaxy Gear displays info such as the i3's travel range and battery charge status, and can also be used to dial in optimal cabin temperature or send navigation destinations to the car's infotainment system.

Ford takes autonomous vehicles to school

(Ford Motor)

(Ford Motor)

Ford announced collaborations with both MIT and Stanford University to further its autonomous vehicle research. Using an automated Ford Fusion Hybrid sedan, MIT will test how algorithms can predict where and when pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists will move in relation to the test vehicle. The Fusion research vehicle is equipped with four lidar-based sensors that generate a real-time 3D map of the vehicle's environment. Stanford researchers, meanwhile, will use sensors to help the Fusion effectively “peek” around large vehicles it may be trailing. Ultimately, the car should have full spatial awareness so it can, if necessary, take informed evasive action.