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11-Year-Old Pilots 1,325 MPG Concept Car 220

Posted by timothy
from the color-me-and-all-kids-everywhere-envious dept.
MikeChino writes "Hypermiling vehicles depend on ultra-efficient engines and low weight to go the distance, so Cambridge Design Partnership selected 11-year-old Cambreshire student Kitty Foster as the pilot their new 1,325 MPG car. The vehicle incorporates a highly modified lightweight oxygen concentrator that was originally developed for the Ministry of Defense to treat injured soldiers."
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11-Year-Old Pilots 1,325 MPG Concept Car

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  • would allow an 11 year old to drive a car of any type. Maybe it goes the speed of one of the battery powered or wind up 'toy cars' that kids putz around on at home.
    • by sheddd (592499)
      I was driving at 6; mostly around a farm but occasionally on the road. I was probably safer than the average 80 year old.
      • I had crashed three cars by the time I was three. Not on the farm. I think I only took off in the tractor once at that age...

        I once saw an eighty-year-old man parallel park by driving his car forward until he hit the car in front, angling the wheel, driving back till he hit the car in back, angling the wheel, and repeating this process as the two eighty-year-old women in the back seat appeared to be growing more and more concerned.

        In retrospect, it seemed to sum up a great deal about everything.

        • by hawguy (1600213)

          I once saw an eighty-year-old man parallel park by driving his car forward until he hit the car in front, angling the wheel, driving back till he hit the car in back, angling the wheel, and repeating this process as the two eighty-year-old women in the back seat appeared to be growing more and more concerned.

          It's not just 80 year olds that park this way - I see this parking style often in the city where I live - parking is hard to come by and people will cram their car into impossibly small spaces.

        • by vivian (156520)

          I think that's the standard parking technique in places like Nice, France. In flat parking areas, apparently sometimes people leave their handbrakes off so their cars can be nudged back or forward without damaging the fenders.

      • by westlake (615356)

        I was driving at 6; mostly around a farm but occasionally on the road. I was probably safer than the average 80 year old.

        I was raised on a farm and saw far too many young kids on tractors. I know exactly how safe you were --- which is to say, not safe at all.

    • by bmo (77928)

      It's on a closed track. It's less risky than a go-kart.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mallory_Park [wikipedia.org]

      >putz around
      >putz as a verb

      I don't think it means what you think it means.

      --
      BMO

    • Your aren't off by much on the speed. In my high school we participated in events like this. I was the only one in the class that wasn't the the standard shop class kid as this was an elective offered only to juniors and seniors (you could take it all year both years). The competition was held up at Brainerd International Raceway and basically the engines have a pull string (think lawn mower) to start the vehicle and don't have multiple gears, so you pull start the vehicle and once up to speed shut the engi
      • by treeves (963993)

        ...Brainerd International Raceway.

        How about having Jerry Lundegaard do the driving!

        Oh, geez. Look, I'm cooperatin' here!

    • by Gordonjcp (186804)

      You've never been to a farm, then? If you can't drive pretty much all the machinery by the time you're 11, then there's clearly something wrong with you.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      Not all young humans are too impulsive, stupid, or otherwise incompetent to drive, ride horses, or race motocross for that matter!

      Have some UK motocross age/class info:

      http://forums.mxtrax.co.uk/showthread.php?t=162847 [mxtrax.co.uk]

      "6-7 yr automatic 50cc 2 or 4 stroke auto air cooled only 12" rear 15"front.
      7-10 yr junior 65cc 2 stroke or 110cc 4 stroke 12" rear 14" front.
      9-12 yr intermediate 85cc 2 stroke or 124cc 4 stroke 14" rear 17" front.
      11-15 yr senior 85cc 2 stroke or 125cc 4 stroke 19" rear 21" front.
      14-17 yr open

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        I think you will find significant correlation between the kids who's parents prevent them from having experiences that let them learn and mature, and immature 21 year olds.
      • Hell I drove my dad's race car when I was 12. At the time it was a 75' Nova with a Chevy 350. It had about 300hp and ran low 14's in the quarter mile. I never did terribly well racing it, but it was fun as hell when you are 12. That was years ago and the minimum age at that time was 12 to drag race. I think now they go as low as eight, but I think it is from 8 to 14 you race the junior dragsters which are basically small dragsters with a motor cycle engine that run an eighth mile instead of the full quarter
    • by jonbryce (703250)

      The car isn't road-legal anyway because the tyre tread is less than 1.6mm

    • by nblender (741424)

      My son has been driving my truck, offroad, since he was 6. I like the idea that if I'm injured and incapable of driving, my son will be able to get the two of us out to the nearest road... He's almost 10 now so having him drive me closer to civilization in an extreme emergency is not inconceivable..

      He's also been helping to fix my truck since he was 4 and rebuilt the entire front axle of my 4x4 when he was 8.. Not because I think he should, but because he wanted to. Been teaching him how to weld, also.

      • Sounds like my oldest son. He is only 2 and a half but loves to help dad "fix" things. He has discovered how to use the pop rivet gun, which is useful since the project of late has been putting in the new floor pans in my 68' MG Midget project car so I have actually gotten him to fix things instead of just pretending. Last summer he wanted to "fix" things which was basically give him a screw driver or wrench and let him poke some old crusty part and pretend, but this year he wants to actually help.
  • Passengers? Just one, the driver

    Doors? None

    Power Windows? Nope, no windows at all

    Wheels? Just three

    It's great to see something get this kind of fuel economy, to see where we can take the technology, but it might not be entirely honest to call it a "car".
    • by Arlet (29997)

      Exactly. Instead of improving useless 'concept cars', effort would be better invested in producing something that could actually be useful.

      • by wed128 (722152)

        These sort of pissing contests sometimes produce technology that is useful in "real cars".

        • by Arlet (29997)

          Maybe, but the same pissing contest could also be done with something a bit more useful. For instance a competition could be organized where the requirements include that the vehicle has been approved to drive on public roads and freeways.

      • by mlts (1038732) *

        I was thinking exactly this on another thread:

        Instead of another lightweight car with no productive use other than showing off drag coefficients in a wind tunnel, how about we see improvements in where the reward is the best?

        Most cars have decent fuel economy. We need to not fret on getting 40 mpg from a 30mpg car. Instead, we need to see about squeezing 12-15 mpg from something that has 10mpg. Ford's turbocharged [1] V6 in the full sized trucks is one example -- getting something fuel thirsty as a picku

        • by rockout (1039072)

          I would disagree on the grounds that far more people drive 30mpg-ish cars than drive full-size trucks. And the idea isn't to get 40mpg out of it, it's to get 100 or 200mpg, eventually.

          That same technology would eventually filter to the guys that "need" a turbo-charged V6 full-size pickup. You know, to uh.... haul stuff in. Really fast. Or something.

        • by Belial6 (794905)
          I was just thinking this about my RV the other day. The thing get 8mpg. It also is already carrying around lots of heavy batteries, and it isn't like Motorhomes are cheap. Why have we not seen hybrid Motorhomes? They would be selling to people with the disposable income to pay for it. They would be targeting gas guzzlers, and they would improve the existing usage by using better batteries, and they wouldn't have to add any extra weight, as the things already carry lots of extra batteries.
      • Look at it as fundamental research instead. Yes, it's far removed from road cars, but new ideas have to be tested somewhere before a car company will commit millions to incorporate it into a saleable vehicle.
        Hypermile racing is an avenue where e.g. combustion research can be carried out at relatively low cost and in a competitive environment that fosters new ideas etc. Many schools and universities take part [1], it would be much harder for them to design and build engines of the size needed to power a full

    • by bluemonq (812827) on Thursday June 23, 2011 @03:56PM (#36546138)

      The Peel P50 is widely recognized as a car (specifically, the smallest car ever commercially produced). It had room for one passenger, had three wheels... and a single door and a few windows. So I guess we're pretty close. Honestly, I'm surprised they didn't stick a light one-piece Lexan windscreen/canopy on it to cut down on the wind resistance.

      • The Peel P50 is widely recognized as a car (specifically, the smallest car ever commercially produced). It had room for one passenger, had three wheels... and a single door and a few windows. So I guess we're pretty close. Honestly, I'm surprised they didn't stick a light one-piece Lexan windscreen/canopy on it to cut down on the wind resistance.

        "The P50 used a 49 cc (3.0 cu in) DKW engine which gave it a top speed of approximately 61 kilometres per hour (38 mph), and was equipped with a three-speed manual transmission that had no reverse gear. Consequently, turning in a confined area could only be achieved by pushing, or lifting the car using the handle on the rear and physically pulling it round."

        "At 54 in (1,372 mm) long and 41 in (1,041 mm) wide[3] and with an unladen weight of 59 kilograms (130 lb),"

        That sounds more like an enclosed, stripped

      • Depending on the speed of the vehicle, a canopy might provide a higher weight penalty than it provides a benefit in drag reduction. Especially considering that you then have to make provisions to ventilate to driver's compartment to control temperature. (I.E. in any sun at all, that canopy is going to turn into a greenhouse.)

        Engineering, it's all about compromises.

    • by Kenoli (934612)

      It's great to see something get this kind of fuel economy, to see where we can take the technology, but it might not be entirely honest to call it a "car".

      You could call it a car. You'd just have to make sure to call it a terrible, useless, or impractical car to be accurate.

      I mean, sure it has good fuel economy, but all other relevant aspects of a car were completely sacrificed in order to attain it. They apparently even used the lightest driver they could possibly find, an 11 year-old girl, in order to make the numbers even higher.

      • It was done at the "Mileage Marathon Challenge", a 'race', the purpose of which is to get the most MPG from the car. They didn't use a light driver "to make the numbers higher", they did it to win the event, just like using a light jockey for horse racing, or a small Cox in a row boat. Everyone commenting on this story seems to have totally missed the point - it was a competition and they won it. Just like Formula One, it's done for sport, but overcoming the technical challenges will presumably produce t
    • Yeah. If this is a "car" then why are we always wringing our hands over when the electric car will become commonplace? We already have tons of clean inexpensive electric cars in the form of power wheels.
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      My car does not have power windows, and probably on 50% of the trips it has no passenger. If I could get a nice cheap enclosed 3 wheel vehicle I would be interested.

    • They have these other amazingly fuel-efficient vehicals powered by 11-year-olds which have been around for awhile. They are called "Bi-cycles." Amazingly, there is no petroleum-based MPG rating on them, as I understand they run on pizza and cookies.
  • by ChrisMounce (1096567) on Thursday June 23, 2011 @03:46PM (#36545974)
    Still really cool, but my original reality was much more awesome. I would have loved to break the sound barrier when I was 11.
  • Cambridge Design built an oxygen concentrator to replace oxygen tanks in battlefield medicine. This device is powered by a tiny diesel engine. I suspect that that engine is what's being used in this car, not the oxygen concentration device.

    • by hawguy (1600213)

      Cambridge Design built an oxygen concentrator to replace oxygen tanks in battlefield medicine. This device is powered by a tiny diesel engine. I suspect that that engine is what's being used in this car, not the oxygen concentration device.

      The article doesn't make it clear what role the oxygen concentrator plays, but it does sound like it's using a diesel powered engine:

      Cambridge Design Partnership used elements from its own lightweight oxygen concentrator, as well as other in-house technologies, to create the unique car. The oxygen generator system was originially developed to treat injured soldiers, but in the car it is powered by an innovative micro-diesel-engine. The car also features low-friction tires to increase mileage.

      ...

      We quickly realized that our R & D work for the MoD, creating an oxygen generator, was highly applicable to the Mileage Marathon Challenge. Both required an extremely efficient system that used very low power and could run off diesel. Now I just need to figure out how to make my own car get the same kind of mileage!”

    • They probably use oxygen injection from the concentrator to boost the burn efficiency. I've read somewhere that the french inventor of the "air powered car" was a former Formula 1 mechanic that realized that more oxygen is a very good thing for the engine.
    • by necro81 (917438)
      You do realize that diesel engines require oxygen to run, right? Think about the thermodynamics of it: burning diesel in an enriched oxygen environment is much better (more efficient, cleaner burning, hotter burning) than burning it in atmosphere. The nitrogen in the atmosphere only gets in the way: it reduces the flame temperature [wikipedia.org] of the burn, because some of the heat of the reaction goes to heating the nitrogen. Some of that heat is lost in the production of NxOx compounds. Lowered temperature == lowe
  • Until you could take it out on existing roads and not get turned into a smear on the road if somebody hits you, it's not a car.

    • by sheddd (592499)
      Yes; that's why I drive a military model Hummer [alpineco.com]; you'll be a grease stain when I run over your Prius, hippy!
      • by blair1q (305137)

        My Prius can outrun your Hummer, and if we're going over 200 miles you got no shot whatsoever. You'll spend more time pumping gas than on the road.

        So that's Mister Hippie to you, bub.

    • by tepples (727027)
      Then even an ordinary compact car isn't a "car" by your definition if you're surrounded by SUVs and trucks.
    • by blair1q (305137)

      If everyone's driving these, that's no longer a problem. It's the car of the future, and therefore a car.

      • by Arlet (29997)

        Hmm... I have a hard time imagining replacing 30-ton transport trucks with a flimsy tricycle, so unless you adopt a dual road system, you'll be stuck with mixed traffic.

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      So, there is no such thing as a car then?
  • That's no car, it's more like a motorized tricycle.

  • so of course it's going to be piloted by a kid. All vehicles in the competition were.

  • Inhabitat: Just another rainbow-filled, sky-high promises fluff blog that completely fails to comment on how or why any particular technology it writes about could be, in any manner, applied to the real world.

    Also, congratulations to the 11 year old for getting written about on the internet.
  • by jfengel (409917) on Thursday June 23, 2011 @03:56PM (#36546140) Homepage Journal

    An 11 year old is pretty light, but since the point clearly has nothing to do with designing a vehicle to move people around, why not just replace the entire machine with a two-pound computer?

    The Challenge is held on a closed track, so it's not like anybody would get hurt. With the driver removed, we could ratchet the number up to 10,000 miles, I'm sure.

    Why would you want to? I have no idea, but then, I have no idea what the point of this demonstration is in the first place except to print "large numbers of miles per gallon" in a newspaper. So why not just take it to its logical conclusion?

    • This has everything to do with moving a person around. It's a competition about who can move a person around using the least fuel.

  • by Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) on Thursday June 23, 2011 @04:16PM (#36546370) Homepage

    When I was in high school our school participated in these events. The competition was held up at Brainerd International Raceway and there were 2 categories, modified and unmodified. In the unmodified class you couldn't make any engine modifications but everything else was open. The engine you got was some small 4 stroke Briggs & Stratton. The team would then build the chassis and body around the engine. The goal being to create as light and aerodynamic vehicle as possible while reducing rolling resistance. Cars in the this call would typically get several hundred MPG. In the modified category you could also modify the engine, and modify was a pretty loose term given some of the mods that I had seen where about the only original parts were the block and pull string. Cars in this category would be up near or above 1000 MPG.

    Now when actually competing you went and did one full trip on the track if your car passed inspection. You got a metered amount of fuel (I think it was about 1 quart of ethanol) and would roll the car out to the starting line. You would then be given the go ahead and the driver would use the pull string to start the engine (there was no clutch) so they would actually start to pull the vehicle up to speed. Once the engine started the car would reach speed at which point the engine is stopped and the vehicle coasts to a stop and then they cycle begins again until you complete your single lap. Once completed the remaining fuel is measured and you MPG is calculated.

    Also female drivers are very common for these types of cars because they are smaller and lighter than guys. Typically our driver would be one of the team members girlfriend who was a gymnast or on the dance line. The passenger compartment would be built for them to drive it so as to cut down on as much weight as possible.

    • by mpoulton (689851)
      Your high school dork squad members were dating gymnasts and dancers? Well done, sir.
      • It wasn't the dork squad as the class was mostly made up of the standard jock shop class crowd. I was the only one who really had a science and technology background as most of other guys were pretty much good a turning a wrench, some weren't even good at that. The worst thing was trying to convince that group that a composite frame would work and would weigh much less than a standard welded aluminum frame. This was early on for carbon fiber so that was out of the price range for a public high school, but f
  • by w0mprat (1317953) on Thursday June 23, 2011 @04:58PM (#36546898)
    No. It's a Trike. Equivelent road-legal vehicle would be classed a motorcycle in the majority of jurasdictions on the planet. The reverse trike configuration is used by other notable high-mpg vehicles such as the Aptera.

    I could sure use one in my daily commute. I get 23mpg in my Nissan Maxima. My inherited 40-year-old Mini Cooper got 50mpg with 1960s technology and 100,000 miles on the clock. How far we've (not) come!
    • I get 23mpg in my Nissan Maxima. My inherited 40-year-old Mini Cooper got 50mpg with 1960s technology and 100,000 miles on the clock. How far we've (not) come!

      And how does the emissions compare between the two? Or safety?

      • by bhtooefr (649901)

        If it had a modern engine, it would probably get 75 mpg. As for safety, the original Mini was known for extremely good handling, and light weight means that modern brakes and tires can get a car stopped DAMN fast.

        So, if a Mini were built with modern technology, but to the same crash safety standards and space as the original, it would probably weigh LESS, and have extremely good active safety, and get extremely good fuel economy.

        • by williamhb (758070)

          If it had a modern engine, it would probably get 75 mpg. As for safety, the original Mini was known for extremely good handling, and light weight means that modern brakes and tires can get a car stopped DAMN fast.

          So, if a Mini were built with modern technology, but to the same crash safety standards and space as the original, it would probably weigh LESS, and have extremely good active safety, and get extremely good fuel economy.

          Um, no. The later versions (the Mini was still being manufactured up until about 2000) had to have side impact bars added to the doors, which would have made it heavier. Meanwhile, according to the UK Department of Transport, the Mini was still one of the two least safe cars on the market, with 84% of drivers likely to be injured in a two car collision.

          (And early models were also known for the petrol cap shearing off if the car rolled in a crash, pouring flammable liquid everywhere, and the ignition break

    • The biggest reasons for the better mileage in the mini would be that it is lighter by a lot, it probably weight less than half of your Maxima. Depending on what year the mini is it has only limited or no emission controls. The mini has a very small engine, probably either the 1098cc or 1275cc A-series. Also the SU carbs on it are known for providing very good fuel metering, but weren't the quickest to respond to increased throttle. They didn't have power accessories, and if it is like my midget things like
  • by TRRosen (720617)

    They couldn't afford a midget?

  • This sounds more like a complicated way of repeating a nasty accident, but on an 11 year old instead of 3 astronauts.
  • They state that they gained 150 MPG with GPS data.

    "The GPS information made a big difference and added 150 mpg."

    A more standard car likely wouldn't see the same >10% boost in economy, but I'm sure it would help. I'd love to see Toyota, Tesla, and other incorporate GPS data into their products' efficiency capabilities. It can only be a positive outcome for the car to use terrain information in calculating how and when to manipulate the drive train.

  • Try "ultra wimpy engines".

    No power to accelerate or climb hills. Ridiculously slow speed. Ridiculously small, uncomfortable vehicle.

    Show me 1300 MPG in city traffic, and without inciting road-rage in other drivers.

    Show me 1300 MPG going through mountain passes.

    How about ventilation? Air conditioning? Show me 1300 MPG on a road trip through a heat wave. You'd be frying like fish in the little coffin on wheels.

    Safety? Front impact, side impact, rear impact, rolling?
    Show me 1300 MPG after building in a steel c

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