Saturday, May 30, 2009

Neighbourhood Electric Vehicle

A Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) is a United States Department of Transportation classification for speed-limited battery electric vehicles. The NEV provides the driver with an alternative to expensive fossil fuels and an opportunity to take charge of their carbon emissions. The NEV operates on only a fraction of the fossil fuels as a standard vehicle by plugging into a standard outlet at home. By using solar or wind power to generate the electricity for these vehicles, they have to the potential to run using no fossil fuel.

NEV is a federally-approved street-legal vehicle classification which came into existence in 1998 under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 500 (FMVSS 500). The vehicle classification is referred to as "low-speed vehicle" within Federal regulations.

NEVs are defined as a four-wheeled motor vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 3,000 pounds (1,400 kg) and a top speed of between 20 mph (32 km/h) to 25 mph (40 km/h). Those states that authorize NEVs generally restrict their operation to streets with a maximum speed limit of 35 mph (56 km/h) or 45 mph (72 km/h). Because of federal law, car dealers cannot legally sell the vehicles to go faster than 25 mph (40 km/h), but the buyer can easily modify the car to go 35 mph (56 km/h). However, if modified to exceed 25mph, the vehicle then becomes subject to safety requirements of passenger cars. 

These speed restrictions, combined with a typical driving range of Template:Convert/30 per charge and a typical three-year battery durability, are required because of a lack of federally mandated safety equipment and features which NEVs can not accommodate because of their design. To satisfy federal safety requirements for manufacturers, NEVs must be equipped with three-point seat belts or a lap belt,windshield wipers are not required, running lights, headlights, brake lights, reflectors, rear view mirrors, and turn signals. In many cases, doors may be optional, crash protection from other vehicles is partially met compared to other non motorized transport such as bicycles because of the use of seat belts.

State regulations
Regulations for operating an NEV vary by state. However, the Federal Government preempts states and local governments from requiring safety equipment beyond Standard 571.500. Generally, they must be registered, and the driver must be licensed. Because airbags are not required the NEV cannot normally travel on highways or freeways. NEVs in many states are restricted to roads with a speed limit of 35 mph (56 km/h) or less.

US Army implements Neighbourhood Electric Vehicles

The U.S. Army has announced that it will lease 4,000 Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) within three years. The Army plans to use NEVs at its bases for transporting people around the base, as well as for security patrols and maintenance and delivery services. The Army accepted its first six NEVs at Virginia's Fort Myer in March 2009 and will lease a total of 600 NEVs through the rest of the year, followed by the leasing of 1,600 NEVs for each of the following two years. With a full eight-hour recharge, the NEVs can travel 30 miles (48 km) at a top speed of 25 mph (40 km/h)[64] .

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Taxi driver in Singapore

I took a taxi from airport to home. The taxi driver was previously working as an electrician in a town council. The town council oursourced the work to a contractor who brought in foreign workers and depreseed the wage to $1,500. He was not able to accept this reduced pay. So, he decided to drive a taxi.

He worked 12 hours a day and earned about $2,500 a month. About 15% of this calls come from booking. He has to pick up the passengers from the roadside or from private booking (without any fee) for the remaining 85%. 

He told me that if a taxi booking service is available on SMS, he will be happy to take up the calls without any booking fee. It is better than driving around to look for a passenger.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Taxi driver in Vancouver

A taxi driver told me that he gets 80% of his call from bookings and 20% from the road. There is no booking fee. He gets the normal taxi fare.  His net earnings is about CAD 20 per hour. An office worker earns CAD 15 per hour.

He was surprised to learn that there is a taxi booking fee in Singapore, repsenting an estimated on top of the taxi fare. He says that the booking fee will discourage customers from using the booking service. It will earn up with more taxis plying the road.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Operation of an automated car

An automated car can move from one point to another on a lane, without the need for a driver. It needs the following:

1.  A dedicated lane, preferably elevated.  The lane can be of smaller width than a light rail system, as the automated car is smaller than a train that carries many more passengers.
2.  Sensors to detect the distance to a car or object in front. This allows the brake to be applied to slow down or stop the car and avoid collision.
3.  A computer system in the car to input the destination stop and to guide the car directly to the destination. The car is able to its location as it travels along the lane.
4.   A by-way at each stop for the car to use, so that it does not obstruct the cars that are bypassing the stop.
5.  The cars should be electrically operated. Batteries can be changed when it is more than 80% consumed. The car can automatically go to the battery changing station when it reaches this point.

I see such a system being developed and deployed within 10 years.

Feeder service in a town

A town can be served by a bus service (to bring passengers to the town center or train station) or by automated cars. 

A bus has to stop at every stop to take and drop passengers. The fare has to be collected. The travelling time can be 2 or 3 times of an automated car that takes the passenger to the destination. A bus journey of 10 to 15 minuts can be done within 5 minutes on an automated car.

A bus can take many times the passengers of an automated car. 

Which is better? Previously, there was no such choice, as an automated car was not possible. With the advance in computer technology, it is now possible to design an automated car (i.e. a car that can drive safely to the destination without the need for a driver). It is time to consider such an option.

Bus service in Vancouver

I took the bus service in Vancouver yesterday. Here are some interesting observations:

1. There are only 2 bus services on the main road near my hotel. It takes me to downtown and allows me to transfer to the Skytrain service or other buses along the way.

2. The waiting time is short. My bus arrives within 5 minutes. 

3. Another passenger complainted that he waited 10 minutes and saw four buses arriving in the opposite direction. They are probably used to getting a bus within 5 minutes.

4. The bus driver was polite and helpful. When I told him of the place that I visited, he told me the stop to get down. He also said that he would announced it on arriving at that stop. He did.

5.  There are several stickers in the bus asking for passengers to give priority to seniors and people with disability. When a senior arrive, the bus driver announced for someone to give up their seat. A seated passenger did what was expected - and enforced.

6.  The bus was electrically operated. The electric power was provided by the electric line that was operated. The bus was not running on rails and is not called a tram.

7. It was quite clear that the bus driver was well educated and probably well paid. In my view, it is better to pay an adequate salary to attract the right type of people to do this job and do it well.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Electric Vehicles

Singapore is spending $20 million to experiment with the use of electric vehicles. The idea is to find electric vehicle that can be more economical to use, compared to the conventional vehicle. 

I wish to suggest a more bold approach. Can the electrical vehicle be used as the backbone of a new transportation system? 

Over the past decade, several innovative transportation thinkers have proposed the Personal Automated Transport (PAT) based on the following concept:

a)  Use of electric vehicles
b)  Automated system, i.e. no need for people to control the vehicle
c)  Running on a separate road system, preferably elevated
d)  Take the passengers from point to point, unlike a light rail system that stops at every stop
e)  The elevated road can use a small gauge, compared to a light rail system. 
f)   When the battery power runs down, it can be replaced with a fully charged battery. 

The PAT system operates like a taxi, but does not have a taxi driver. It operates like a private car, but does not require to find a parking space. It can take the passengers to the destination and can be booked by another passenger.

I like to suggest that the PAT system can operate to provide local transportation in a town, to bring people to the MRT station or bus interchange. 

I hope that a city like Singapore can develop this new concept and bring it to the world. This will be more efficient than a light rail system. It reduces the travelling time and brings greater comfort to commuters. 

Tan Kin Lian