Category Archives: Transportation

First Hydrogen-Powered Train Hits the Tracks In Germany

"French train-building company Alstom built two hydrogen-powered trains and delivered them to Germany last weekend, where they'll zoom along a 62-mile stretch of track that runs from the northern cities of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervorde, and Buxtehude," reports Ars Technica. "The new trains replace their diesel-powered counterparts and are the first of their kind, but they are likely not the last. Alstom is contracted to deliver 14 more hydrogen-powered trains, called Coradia iLint trains, before 2021." From the report: The trains are an initial step toward lowering Germany's transportation-related emissions, a sector that has been intractable for policy makers in the country. But hydrogen fuel faces some chicken-and-egg-type problems. Namely, hydrogen is difficult to store, and making it a truly zero-emissions source of fuel requires renewable electricity to perform water electrolysis. The more common option for creating hydrogen fuel involves natural gas reforming, which is not a carbon-neutral process. The advantages of hydrogen fuel cells are that -- unlike battery-powered vehicles -- refueling a hydrogen-powered vehicle is just as fast as a vehicle powered by fossil fuels. No sitting around and charging overnight is required. Trains tend not to be battery-powered when they're electric, however, because they're so heavy. Electric train systems tend to use catenary systems, with electrified cables providing electricity to the train. But over long distances, setting up an external electricity source can be expensive. Both trains have a reported range of 1,000km (621 miles) and can reach top speeds of 140km/h (87mph). Cost is unknown, although Alstom's press release says that Lower Saxony, the German state where the trains will run, supported the purchase of the 14 additional trains with $94.5 million.

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Tesla Model 3 Earns Five-Star Crash Safety Rating From NHTSA

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has awarded the Tesla Model 3 with a five-star safety rating -- the highest possible score. This means that every car Tesla has built has earned a five-star rating. Jalopnik reports: The NHTSA tests cover three primary categories: Frontal Crash, Side Crash, and Rollover, and the Model 3 received the highest ratings in all categories. For some categories, it's easy to understand why Teslas do so well. Rollover resistance, for example, makes sense for cars that carry most of their weight at the very bottom, in the batteries sandwiched in the Tesla's chassis design. Other reasons for the remarkable crash safety may be that, without the need for a heavy chunk of metal as a drivetrain, effective and large crumple zones can be designed in, front and rear. The NHTSA has released videos of their frontal collision test, side pole collision test, and side collision test, for those who like watching these sort of things.

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Amazon Plants Fake Packages In Delivery Trucks As Part of Undercover Ploy To ‘Trap’ Drivers Stealing

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Business Insider: Amazon uses fake packages to catch delivery drivers who are stealing, according to sources with knowledge of the practice. The company plants the packages -- internally referred to as "dummy" packages -- in the trucks of drivers at random. The dummy packages have fake labels and are often empty. Here's how the practice works, according to the sources: During deliveries, drivers scan the labels of every package they deliver. When they scan a fake label on a dummy package, an error message will pop up. When this happens, drivers might call their supervisors to address the problem, or keep the package in their truck and return it to an Amazon warehouse at the end of their shift. Drivers, in theory, could also choose to steal the package. The error message means the package isn't detected in Amazon's system. As a result, it could go unnoticed if the package were to go missing. "If you bring the package back, you are innocent. If you don't, you're a thug," said Sid Shah, a former manager for DeliverOL, a courier company that delivers packages for Amazon.

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VW Group, BMW and Daimler Are Under Investigation For Collusion In Europe

The European Commission has launched an antitrust investigation into the Volkswagen Group, BMW and Daimler, over allegations they colluded to keep certain emissions control devices from reaching the market in Europe, according to a statement the Commission released on Tuesday. CNET reports: The technologies the group allegedly sought to bury include a selective catalytic reduction system for diesel vehicles, which would help to reduce environmentally problematic oxides of nitrogen in passenger cars, and "Otto" particulate filters that trap particulate matter from gasoline combustion engines. "The Commission is investigating whether BMW, Daimler and VW agreed not to compete against each other on the development and roll-out of important systems to reduce harmful emissions from petrol and diesel passenger cars," said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, head of competition policy for the European Commission, in a statement. "These technologies aim at making passenger cars less damaging to the environment. If proven, this collusion may have denied consumers the opportunity to buy less polluting cars, despite the technology being available to the manufacturers."

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