Monday, March 19, 2007

Interesting possibilites for the Army

The Venture Eclectic

Above are images of the Venturi Astrolab.

Venturi never ceases to amaze us with their eco-friendly creations. In addition to the already unique Eclectic and Fetish, we now have the world’s first commercially-available electric-solar hybrid in the form of the Venturi Astrolab. The car, which resembles a rolling wing with four wheels attached, is covered by 3.6 square metres of photovoltaic solar cells that enables it to reach speeds of up to 75mph with a range of 68 miles.
What we love most about Venturi is that most of their creations aren’t just fragile concepts that will never come close to any form of production. If you can afford the hefty €90,200 price tag then the Astrolab could be sitting in your garage once deliveries start in January 2008. The vehicle requires no fossil fuels whatsoever for its propulsion. Instead, power comes from a tiny 16kW engine that is recharged by the car’s motion or the sun’s rays.
To achieve its level of performance on such low power, the Astrolab was designed with extensive Formula One technology. Prime examples are its carbon monocoque ultra-light chassis and wind tunnel testing. Another cool feature is the Astrolab’s liquid cooled NiMH batteries that can be plugged into a mains socket for recharging. Though we doubt cars like the Astrolab will ever sell in respectable numbers, they do pave the way for a new generation of vehicles that one day we may all be driving.

Why isn't the US Army investing in solar powered cars? Yes I realize its a very light car and the US Army's cars are much heavier. But by investing R&D funds into researching and developing solar powered cars we could increase the efficiency of solar cells that power cars. Another problem were working on is making solar cells less noticable and bulky. Also lets look at another concept that this company is developing.

Sitting alongside its Fetish sibling on the Venturi display at the Paris Motor Show is the self powered Venturi Eclectic. Touted as an autonomous energy vehicle, the Eclectic can be powered independently of any natural energy reserves. It’s powered by a small 22hp (16kW), 50Nm electric motor, and is normally charged up by the 2.5 square metres of solar cells on its roof.
The Eclectic is designed as a daily-driver for urban areas and more closely resembles a golf buggy than an actual car. Designer Sacha Lakic describes the vehicle as a “modern, autonomous and intelligent automobile.” The beauty of the Eclectic is that when it stands still, it’s actually adding energy to its batteries. In regions where the sun doesn’t shine that often, the vehicle uses wind power to rotate a force wheel, which generates electricity topping up the battery.
Complete charge of the liquid cooled NIMH batteries provides a range of about 50km and allows the car to reach speeds of 50 km/h. Wind power alone can drive the car 15km after a full day of charging. If all else fails, owners can simply plug it into a mains unit at home. The four-seater Eclectic weighs just 350 kilograms and will go into production in June 2007 with a price tag of 24,000 euros. Initially, only 200 units will be made but if they prove popular a cheaper version will be produced starting from 2009.

Now again of course this car wouldn't survive in combat. But if the US Army modified it, it could serve as a great military installation patrol vehicle. That could save plenty of money while also demonstrating the capabilites of solar powered vehicles. It could also serve to develop an industry base for solar powered cars in America. I'm writing our senate and congress to bring this to their attention.

No comments: