stories filed under: "prius"
by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 6th 2011 1:26am
Notcot has this neat story about how some engineers are prototyping the idea of taking the regenerative braking system of the Toyota Prius, which effectively turns the "friction" into usable energy, rather than wasted energy, and using it in other contexts, such as to power a roller coaster. The general concept came from a program Toyota put together called "Ideas for Good," and one part of that included a commercial, where someone made the suggestion to power an amusement park with such a system. You can see that commercial here:
That resulted in Toyota teaming up with Deeplocal to build a prototype system of a Prius coaster car that captures energy via the braking system. You can see the short video that shows the results (and some of the process) below:
And back at the Notcot post there are a bunch of photos of the project as well. Here's just one to whet your appetite:
To be honest, I was a little disappointed in the results. I recognize this is more proof of concept, but I'd really like to see something like this done on a bigger scale. It did feel like a bit of a letdown to just see a little slope and roll, rather than anything resembling a real rollercoaster. Perhaps we'll be able to do a followup post before too long with a bigger and better example...
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Sep 9th 2009 9:33pm
from the once-wasn't-enough? dept
Earlier this year, we wrote about how Toyota had been stockpiling a ton of patents around hybrid vehicle technology, such that almost no other carmaker could make hybrid vehicles without paying up. Of course, there was some history to that story, as Toyota had lost a big lawsuit by a patent holder named Paice a few years back, requiring a fee to be paid on a bunch of Toyota hybrids. However, apparently that wasn't enough. Gary points out that, not only has Paice filed some new lawsuits over more recent hybrid Toyotas, it's also taking a separate crack at the issue via the International Trade Commission (ITC), an infamous loophole used by patent holders to get multiple cracks at a company over the same patent. The link above from Treehugger asks a question that plenty of folks following the patent world have been asking for years:
Here's a bit of a kicker: With the last suit, "Paice said the market for hybrid cars "did not take off" until Toyota "revamped its vehicle program" with technology Paice patented almost a decade earlier." So if a company has a technology that could be a huge boon for drivers and the environment and they sit on it for a decade, does a competing company that finally does something with it and makes it a success really need to be sued repeatedly for using it? Paice seems to be somewhat at fault for not being effective enough with a smart technology.Indeed. This isn't a case of patents being used to enable innovation. It's a clear case of patents being used to hinder innovation -- and the patent holder seems to have no qualms about admitting that no real innovation happened until Toyota came along.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jul 7th 2008 3:24pm
from the what's-wrong-with-wind-power? dept
Toyota, already considered a leader in producing hybrid gas-electric vehicles is apparently preparing to make that hybrid a bit more hybrid: it's going to add solar panels to some models, using the solar energy to power air conditioning. It's not much, but it's a start. I've actually been fascinated with solar vehicles since the fifth grade (yikes) when I convinced some engineers at GM to send me some cheap solar panels to build a tiny solar-powered car (Chrysler ignored my letter, Ford sent a form letter in response). While GM had invested in some prototypes and took part in various solar powered car contests, the technology has never been good enough to do very much at a practical level. Now, how long will it be until Toyota figures out a way to use wind power as well?