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Volvo’s e-buses will honk at oblivious pedestrians

Volvo’s e-buses, which are already shuttling passengers in some European cities, are silent operators like other electric vehicles out there. The automaker’s idea of minimizing their chances of colliding with pedestrians, however, is giving them the capability to make a lot of noise. Volvo’s new pedestrian and cyclist detection system uses a camera to constantly monitor its buses’ surroundings. If it spots someone nearby, it emits a gentle warning sound to signify that a vehicle is approaching. It also uses audio and visual cues to alert the driver of people nearby, just in case he’s fallen asleep at the wheel. If it senses an “imminent risk of an accident,” though, it does more than just give off a few beeps: it honks. Loudly.

Despite all the noise its electric buses will be able to make, the company promises they still won’t be as loud as their gas-powered counterparts. Volvo Director Peter Danielsson said in a statement:

“The bus can be heard — but without being disruptive. We’ve solved this problem by developing a synthetic background sound with a frequency range that is not perceived as disruptive. For instance, it does not penetrate windows with triple glazing, unlike the low-frequency noise made by a diesel engine.”

The Swedish corporation will roll out its new detection system to its European fleet by 2017. You can watch a demo of how it works below, though, complete with samples of the vehicles’ “non-disruptive” warning beeps.

Via: Fast Company

Source: Volvo

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Existing EV batteries could be recharged five times faster

Lithium-ion batteries have massively improved in the last half-decade, but there are still issues. The biggest, especially for EVs, is that charging takes too long to make them as useful as regular cars for highway driving. Researchers from the University of Warwick (WMG) have discovered that we may not need to be so patient, though. They developed a new type of sensor that measures internal battery temperatures and discovered that we can probably recharge them up to five times quicker without overheating problems.

Overcharging a lithium-ion battery anode can lead to lithium buildup, which can break through a battery's separator, create a short-circuit and cause catastrophic failure. That can cause the electrolyte to emit gases and literally blow up the battery, so manufacturers impose strict charging power limits to prevent it.

Those limits are based on hard-to-measure internal temperatures, however, which is where the WMG probe comes in. It's a fiber optic sensor, protected by a chemical layer that can be directly inserted into a lithium-ion cell to give highly precise thermal measurements without affecting its performance.

The team tested the sensor on standard 18650 li-ion cells, used in Tesla's Model S and X, among other EVs. They discovered that they can be charged five times faster than previously thought without damage. Such speeds would reduce battery life, but if used judiciously, the impact would be minimized, said lead researcher Dr. Tazdin Amietszajew.

Faster charging as always comes at the expense of overall battery life but many consumers would welcome the ability to charge a vehicle battery quickly when short journey times are required and then to switch to standard charge periods at other times.

There's still some work to do. While the research showed the li-ion cells can support higher temperatures, EVs and charging systems would have to have "precisely tuned profiles/limits" to prevent problems. It's also not clear how battery makers would install the sensors in the cells.

Nevertheless, it shows a lot of promise for much faster charging speeds in the near future. Even if battery capacities stayed the same, charging in 5 minutes instead of 25 could flip a lot of drivers over to the green side.

Via: Clean Technica

Source: University of Warwick

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