Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Making It a Law, or Making It Impossible???

I've gotten a few new readers to this blog, and that's encouraging. I want to briefly go over one aspect of my idea that is really central to my "real world" application of cutting our "addiction to speed".

My proposal is to retrofit every car on the road, with a mechanical escapement. That way, there's no cheating about the top speed your car can go. You physically cannot go faster. Downhill, clutch

Where do we use escapement mechanisms today? In watches and clocks. This YouTube video is a great way to be introduced to this 500-year old mechanism:

I think ya gotta copy & paste with this blog.

If an escapement mechanism was fitted to the back wheel(s) of every vehicle (incl motorcycles), it would have the following consequences:

Everyone could start driving more slowly, with a max speed of 34 mph, all at the same time. You get the mechanism installed, it stays un-deployed until a "National Drop Day". Then, on that date, you pull a chord from underneath your car, the device is irretrievably deployed, and you stick the little sticker ("oil drop", "American Flag", "dollar sign") on your bumper to show that it is functioning. Everyone complies at the same time. No cheating. You can see the device from behind the car.

A much-needed cottage industry of building these devices, and installing these devices, would suck up a lot of UAW workers, and other auto workers, currently unemployed. Because they are mechanical, and not electronic, it would be easy to design, test, and install mechanical devices.

We have a lot of UAW and parts-plants workers either unemployed or driving huge distances (1000 miles) to new jobs. Why not locate these "escapement manufacturers" at old auto plant locations?? We have to cover 220 MILLION vehicles! That's a lot of immediate work!

Ever heard of dashboard radar detectors? There is a whole cottage industry devoted to evading the law and driving beyond the speed limit. I don't want to start another "evasion industry" by using electronics to limit speed. When such a "box of wires" does the speed control, it is not apparent why it is failing when it does fail. You're just staring at it. Without proper devices, no one could tell why it isn't functioning. Second, a whole "evasion industry" could easily create "cheater circuits". Imagine, six months into everyone driving 34mph top speed. You're on I-5 at midnight. Very few CHP are even monitoring the roads. You simply "switch off " your speed limiter, and go seventy for a while. Then, you switch it back on! Who can tell??!! A little bragging, and pretty soon everyone "with a brain" is using such stuff. With a mechanical escapement, you could build an elaborate system of cheating, but it would be much much more difficult. And, instead of staring at a little black box, the Highway Patrol could tell right away if you were sporting an extra-legal design/build. You just look ten seconds under the car.

Simply posting a speed limit, and turning everyone into lawbreakers, more or less, would be nigh impossible. Really hard to enforce.

If the USA led the way, other countries would follow. And, in countries like India, where they already make a $2500 car unsuitable for extreme high speeds, the cars would get even cheaper.

Car manufacturing would be on a path similar to the shoe industry. It used to be, everyone had one pair of shoes. A shoe was built to be worn on either foot. Then design advanced to "left shoe, right shoe" then better treads etc. Specialization went up (flip flops for the beach, running shoes, dress shoes, ski boots, hiking boots) and every one wore a pair depending on conditions. Prices (in real terms) went down. I would predict, with slower speeds, cars would get cheaper, and we'd actually own MORE cars! Specialized cars.

Right now, you see a jacked-up pickup with $5000 in extra suspension and lights, etc., taking ONE GUY to work, you have to think, "Would I ever wear my ski boots to the beach??!!"

If it was your ONLY footwear, you would!! That's what our world of cars is like today.

Remember, in World War II, the United States really changed the personal vehicle landscape. They didn't produce any cars, for years!! That was a sacrifice. A real sacrifice! This is only a modest change, just to save the planet.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Where my data originated

I'm getting some feedback on some of my physics, and statements about energy used by vehicles to accelerate, etc.

My source for my data is a book by Robert Q Riley, "Alternative Cars in the 21st Century". It was first published in 1994, so some of the data cited is research done in the 1980s, or early 1990s. Riley has put out a second edition of his book, and he has a website as well. In his first edition, he writes (page 106) "Aerodynamic drag is a product of the vehicle's frontal area, its drag coefficient, and the cube of its speed. The cubic increase of drag in relation to speed makes aerodynamics a major consideration when designing high-speed highway vehicles."

In my windpower research, I have also come across the "Vee-cube-d" power of wind, regarding wind energy and wind speed.

My Answers to Recent Comments

Just a note to a reader who looked for my comment on Paul Kedrosky's blog. I made a "post" to his blog about some topic he wrote about, and put a link to my blog after the signature blog. You won't do a successful search on his blog and find something Paul Kedrosky wrote about me, or this blog. That didn't happen. So searching won't find it. It happened maybe seven months ago.

Another post mentions starting the idea of a maximum speed with simply posting a speed limit, to roll out the program with a "law" and taking it from there. The country is already in a big enough state of total acrimony, that we don't need a gigantic increase in collective anger created by ticket-writing.