Everyone remembers their family car growing up. You remember the way it smelled and how the seats felt. You remember arguing over the front seat and tossing your sports equipment in the trunk. And you remember, after a long day at school, how you’d doze off in the backseat as the radio played.
That vehicle did a lot of work. For a couple of hours in the day, it was your transportation, your lounge area, and your entertainment. As a parent now, it’s your turn to provide that vehicle for your family.
Although you may not have realized it until now, your parents put a lot of thought into what vehicle to choose. Like them, you want to pick the perfect automobile to safely and snugly transport your precious cargo. Unlike them, however, you have the internet at your disposal!
In this article, let’s discuss the four key considerations to make when shopping for the perfect family vehicle.
Safety is priority number one when researching family vehicles. That hot two-door sports car might have looked fantastic when you were 20, but now that you’ve got a family to protect, you want something more robust.
Look for vehicles like the Ford F-150 that have a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – the preeminent safety testing body. To dig deeper, you can look at crash test performance and vehicle safety features. Where your family is concerned, don’t settle for less than a five-star rating.
Look For Storage Space
Between their sports, your grocery shopping, their music lessons, and your work – that’s a lot of cargo. And that doesn’t even factor in camping trips, fishing trips, and ski vacations.
The perfect family vehicle should have plenty of space for storage. One of the reasons why trucks (like the above-mentioned Ford F-150) are becoming so popular among new families is that, in addition to safety and seating, their large beds are ideal for storage. Plus, it’s simple to find a Ford F-150 at a reasonable price, meaning you keep more money in your pocket for what matters: family.
A Great Infotainment System Goes A Long Way
Kids are a restless lot. Without entertainment and engagement, they resort to arguing, fidgeting, and kicking your seat. That’s why a quality infotainment system is critical.
Look for vehicles that feature a great sound system, intuitive navigational system, and easy-to-use climate control. Then, pop in an audiobook or turn up your kids’ favorite tunes, and wait for them to relax.
Find Seating For The Family Size You Want
Too often, parents make the mistake of buying a vehicle for the family they have– not the one they want. If you plan on having more kids, plan ahead by ensuring your family vehicle has the requisite seating. If you plan on enrolling your kids in after school activities that require storage space, factor that into your decision-making as well.
You remember what it was like to ride in your family vehicle as a kid. You wanted to feel safe, comfortable, and entertained. When you choose your new family vehicle, keep those criteria in mind.
Ride Sharing Services Associated With Binge Drinking
Ride-sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber are uniquely positioned to reduce fatalities and deaths from drunk driving and also, according to a recent study, they are linked to increased binge drinking.
To date, much of the research carried out on drunk driving and ride-sharing focuses on how services like Uber could contribute to a decrease in DWIs, fatalities, and accidents, the researchers noted.
‘’There’s fairly strong evidence that this expanded supply of transportation is allowing people to do less driving while drunk,’’ co-author Jeffrey McCullough said, health management and policy associate professor of Michigan School of Public Health University. ‘’But at the same time, we found that it is making it easier for people to engage in alcohol consumption particularly binge drinking, which is the worst kind of drinking.’’
McCullough and collaborators used press releases from Uber to indicate when the service entered the market. They contrasted this data against what they knew about population density and alcohol consumption according to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Systems Annual Survey, an extensive US survey on residents about preventive services use, chronic health conditions, and their risk behaviors.
Using 113 urban markets data collected between 2010 and 2016, the researchers specifically looked at those who confessed that in the preceding 30 days they had drunk alcohol and the ones that confessed to binge drinking (approximately 5 drinks for males and 4 drinks for females at once) in the same period.
Researchers didn’t find a connection between Uber’s entrance into the market and generally modest alcohol consumption frequency. Still, they witnessed that in high-density markets, binge drinking rose by 4% after Uber’s came into the market.
”Clearly, there are health benefits to reducing drunk driving, but we are also seeing an increase in binge drinking,” said McCullough. ”It’s not that we should stop ride-hailing services. They do create value. But the study suggests we should be thinking about other public health risks related to alcohol consumption as transportation technology changes.’’
China Unveils Superconducting Train
Chinese researchers have made public a new maglev train prototype they developed. Running on high-temperature technology, the high-speed train will run on liquid nitrogen which is much cheaper than liquid helium.
Chinese officials and press received the prototype last week in Chengdu. Southwest Jiatong University hosted the unveiling and witnessed test runs.
The prototype has leveraged several new technologies; such as a low-resistance locomotive shape, a light-weight carbon fiber body, and a superconducting maglev with a capacity for both high-temperature and large load.
Traditional railway trains run on wheels but maglev (also referred to as magnetic levitation) trains are propelled above a guidance track. The Southwest Jiatong University is the birthplace of the superconducting maglev technology.
From the 1980s, the school has worked to advance technological innovation and theoretical research. The university partnered with China Railway Group Limited, China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation and other companies and institutions in 2020 to begin on the prototype’s manufacture. Other than that, they needed to manufacture the test line and build the train’s transit system.
Wu Zili, a senior engineer in SWJTU, was interviewed by the South China Morning Post. He mentioned the train’s systems achieved superconductivity at about one-fiftieth of what liquid helium systems cost. He explained that ordinary superconductors required -269 degrees Celsius while high-temperature superconductors could only work with liquid nitrogen at -196 degrees Celsius.
The engineer added that the train had a self-maglev feature. The train was capable of remaining suspended without extra energy. The train is intended to move at a record speed of 385mph (800km/h.
Future editions of the train are expected to rise to a speed of 500mph (800km/h) because of low vacuum tunnel technology. Trials for an even better maglev prototype were running last year at Shanghai Tonji University.
SJTU is working on other innovations besides the maglev train. An urban rail vehicle running on wireless power supply is also in the works.
Thin Molecular Layer that makes Batteries more Reliable
Researchers at Penn State University’s Battery and Energy Storage Technology Center are looking to come up with better automobile chargers that are more reliable and charge quicker.
They are experimenting with a thin layer of electrochemically active molecules that are self-assembling to make better batteries.
“The lithium metal battery is the next generation of battery after the lithium ion battery,” explained Donghai Wang, researcher at Penn State University’s Battery and Energy Storage Technology Center and a Mechanical, Chemical engineering professor. “It uses a lithium anode and has higher energy density but has problems with dendritic growth, low efficiency, and low cycle life.”
The researchers are working with a self-assembling monolayer to solve these problems. Because it is electrochemically active, it breaks down into its various components to protect the lithium anode’s surface.
The battery in question has a lithium anode as well as a lithium metal oxide cathode and an electrolyte with materials that conduct lithium-ion. It also has the thin film layer on the outside that prevents the battery from growing lithium crystal spikes when it is charged too quickly or when the temperature is too cool. The spikes also cause the battery to short and cut short its longevity.
Says Professor Wang: “The key is to tune the molecular chemistry to self-assemble on the surface. The monolayer will provide a good solid electrolyte interface when charging and protect the lithium anode.”
The monolayer is first deposited on a thin layer of copper so that when charged, the lithium contacts the monolayer and breaks down into an interfacial layer that is stable.
Some lithium deposits on the copper with the other layer and the decomposed part of the first layer is restored on top of the lithium where it protects it and prevents the formation of lithium dendrites.
Researchers say that the technology can boost battery storage capacity and enable batteries to be charged more times in its lifetime. It cannot be charged more than a few hundred times at this point.
“The key is that this technology shows an ability to form a layer when needed on time and decompose and spontaneously reform so it will stay on the copper and also cover the surface of the lithium,” explained Wang. “Eventually it could be used for drones, cars, or some very small batteries used for underwater applications at low temperatures.”
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