The Future of Electric Cars: Drive, Power, Cook
Remember when smart phones were just a pipedream and Bluetooth, 3D printing or iCloud ceased to exist entirely? It seems that technological advancements are moving in leaps and bounds these days. Fortunately some of the greatest inventors of our time are focussing their ingenuity on more sustainable innovations in order to address some of the world’s biggest problems at present.
By now, you’ve probably heard of electric vehicles. Indeed they do exist and scientists are exploring the ways in which they can be made safer, more reliable and affordable too. Some might say the fact that electronic vehicles feature solar cells which feed their electric batteries is impressive, but it’s not nearly as impressive as the prospect of these vehicles providing food.
Instead of boots designed to carry luggage, Italian researchers are experimenting with vehicles that carry microwaves and frying pans. Pietro Perlok, CEO of IFEVS, describes the electric restaurant car in greater detail: “We wanted to show that by just using photovoltaic energy you can not only drive the vehicle, but also power a kitchen and be able to cook in an ecological way.”
This revolutionary prototype, which looks like a tiny food van, has already been designed by scientists at a European research project which focuses on producing modular urban light electric vehicles.
“Our car is modular. We always have the same chassis based on a mix of very high resilient steel. The car has 4 powered wheels. It has two motors, one in the front, another in the back. Each motor feeds two of the wheels,” says Perlok.
While these modular vehicles offer an array of benefits including their small size and ability to run on very little power, they have not been declared safe enough for the market – meaning researchers have had to go back to the drawing board to find practical solutions.
What makes this prototype especially unique is that it was built using a special kind of steel which absorbs large quantities of energy – known as elastic steel – and because both of the car’s motors are made with magnets not rare materials, the cost of such a vehicle is significantly reduced.
“The fact that the car has two motors offers some advantages. Two motors gives more flexibility to the vehicle, and it improves its acceleration performance,” says Regulated Environment Protection Installation Electrical Engineer, Paul Minciunescu.
“Our aim was to develop a really hi-tech vehicle, with state of the art technology, that has the safety of a plane for the cost of a washing machine. In the 90s the big challenge for technology developers was bringing a cell phone into every home. Our challenge now is to bring one of these cars to the garage of every European,” says Bitron/Plus-Moby project coordinator Marco Ottella.
Researchers anticipate that with any luck their modular vehicles could be ready for industrial manufacturing in approximately two years’ time. Only time will tell…