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The month in tech: A battery-free EV?

Quant e-Sportlimousine

(Newspress)

A monthly roundup of the biggest car technology stories.

An electric car, but where are the batteries?

The Quant e-Sportlimousine uses so-called “flow-cell” technology with two tanks filled with different liquid electrolytes to store energy. The liquid passes through a membrane in between the two tanks, creating an electric charge. The e-Sportlimousine emits no particulate or noxious emissions, has a claimed top speed of about 217mph and would accelerate from zero to 62mph in a Nissan GT-R Nismo-like 2.8 seconds. Nanoflowcell, its Germany-based builder, says the  technology offers five times the energy capacity of lithium-ion batteries of the same weight, has no moving parts and contains no harmful substances. The car can travel 372 miles on a single charge and just earned a road-worthy approval on European roads. 

An app that keeps drivers focused on the road

(Vstock/Getty)

(Vstock/Getty)

Researchers at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland have created an Android app intended tobring an unfocused driver's attention back to the road. The app runs in the background on the driver’s Android device, and collects information on the car's location, speed and even taps in to the device’s camera. Using captured data and images, the app flashes a warning sign on the screen if a user spends a potentially reckless amount of time looking at the screen. It also gives a warning when it detects objects in the road.  In testing, researchers said drivers paid attention to the road 15% more of the time while using the app. They expect to launch a free, public version  in fall 2014.

US Marine Corps test self-driving vehicles

(Lockheed Martin)

(Lockheed Martin)

Google isn’t the only non-automaker  that is dabbling in the self-driving-car business. The US Army and Marine Corps tested a Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System (AMAS) at Ford Hood, Texas. The Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center wants a self-driving vehicle in the military by 2025, and is leveraging technology developed by Lockheed Martin to drive large PLS and M915 military transports. The AMAS uses drive-by-wire technology for steering, acceleration and braking, and incorporates radar and lidar for navigation. The system can be pre-programmed with a final destination, change course based on objects moving in front of it, or follow vehicles in a convoy. 

Jaguar Land Rover, at your service

(Jaguar Land Rover)

(Jaguar Land Rover)

The British marque announced its research plans to create an on-board “smart assistant” and self-learning system for its vehicles. The assistant pairs with a driver's smartphone to learn meeting schedules and destinations, and then pre-sets the navigation as the driver enters the vehicle, or warns the driver if there is not sufficient fuel for a long trip planned for tomorrow. The self-learning system would be able to determine whether a driver was dropping kids off at school each day and automatically adjust temperature settings for the passengers or automatically cue up a kid's music playlist based on past preferences. The system also would learn driving habits, so that when adaptive cruise control is turned on, the car follows the driver's preferred distance settings and braking habits. 

Robots take the pain out of airport parking

At the Düsseldorf Airport in Germany, robots automatically park cars for travellers. The robotic parking attendant, called Ray, uses long arms like a forklift that slide around the tires and lift the vehicle off the ground. When a driver pulls into the parking bay, a laser scanner measures the vehicle's size in seconds, then determines where to  position the car in the garage. The system monitors  the traveller's return flight schedule and returns  the car to the passenger bay before the driver arrives.

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