Self-healing roads, electric delivery vehicle technology and self-healing tires. Are you ready to hit the road? This is another automotive edition of your Engineering360 news brief.
Researchers from ETH Zurich are working on a way to prevent pothole formation by injecting asphalt with iron-oxide nanoparticles that help prevent cracks. If these pothole-free roads were to become a real thing, they would need to be completely constructed with the nanoparticle mixture and would then require annual treatments as a result of the continual stress. The team envisions that for this to work maintenance vehicles would need to heal the roads with giant magnetic coils. For existing roads, the team says you can apply the mixture to current potholes. They are now looking for commercial partners.
Electric Delivery Vehicle Technology
Researchers have developed DELIVER-E, a quiet, compact, lightweight electric delivery vehicle prototype that can respond to the ever-growing online consumer market without damaging the environment. The University of Warwick team developed the vehicle as one of several projects at the forefront of electric transportation and autonomous technology, anticipating the future of mobility that could be run by electric vehicles as emission controls tighten and online acquisitions increase. The vehicle is fitted with a 48 V 6.5 kWh battery system—increasing its peak power from 12 kilowatts to 36 kilowatts to help it cope with the weight of goods and conserve energy while it starts and stops during deliveries.
If self-healing roads weren’t cool enough, Harvard researchers have developed tough self-healing rubber by making the bonds connecting the polymers reversible so that they could break and reform. According to the researchers, this material would make it possible for you to keep driving with a hole in your tire. It would self-heal while driving long enough to give you leeway to avoid damage. Potential applications for the rubber go beyond merely car tires though, and could include wearable electronics and medical devices. The team still has a lot more to do before this material could ever reach the market.
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