I, John Silvester have a strong interest in Science. My 'A' levels include Physics Chemistry and Biology, my degrees are in General Science and Biochemistry at the University of Liverpool. The first job I was offered after University was as a Scientific Officer in the Civil Service. I was to monitor pollution in Lough Neagh, Northern Ireland. The IRA blew up the laboratory before I started work there. I became a medical representative for an ethical drug company. A few years later I became a driving instructor and established 'The Berkshire Driving School' at Company's House, City Road, London, January 1974. Later that year I went to Bulmersche Teacher's Training College and gained a Cert.Ed. The following year I qualified and taught in Bracknell, gaining a post of responsibility. I continued my driving school. My business eventually grew so I had to give up Science teaching. Before the recession of about 1990 the driving school had two trucks and two cars in service. I am now a small driving school specialising in trailer towing and minibus training. Current projects include the development of a wireless link between trailer and towing vehicle, a simplified power connector between these vehicles, using GPS and a computer to monitor driving performance and a robot sailing yacht. Past projects have included various robotic projects such as a heavyweight robot for Technogames and Robot Wars. I have explained some of my projects on radio and appeared on television.
Today the DVSA announced that professional driving instructors will be permitted to teach learners how to use the motorway providing that the car is fitted with dual controls.
Towing trailers is part of the DVSA syllabus yet it is illegal for learners to tow one. Even a tiny trailer can pose a considerable danger if it is not correctly coupled to the towing vehicle. Some instructors have cars fitted with tow bars in addition to the dual controls. Please DVSA, could those instructors be permitted to teach the safe way to operate a trailer? You cannot possibly allow them to pull combinations weighing up to 3.5 tonnes without some kind of instruction!
A friend jokingly suggested that I might be worried that my Model S might catch fire. I was not aware of this problem so took it upon myself to investigate the issue.
It seems that a small number of fires had occurred some years ago and this was caused by large sharp heavy debris in the road being flung up at speed and piercing the batteries. However the car will alert the occupants so that the driver can pull up safely. Unlike a petrol fire, the batteries will not erupt into a wall of flames.
This problem was solved by updating the software to increase the ride height and by fitting a titanium panel underneath the car to protect the batteries. It was also retro fitted to older vehicles.
Samsung’s problem of their latest Note smart phones was caused by a school boy error – they forgot to account for the expansion as the battery charges.
Quick charging will be needed when electric cars become main stream. Tesla are replacing their charging stands with water cooled versions which pump ethylene glycol through the charging cable. They are recognisable by a black cooling vent at their base and a thinner, more flexible cable. The new chargers will be able charge vehicles faster.
Reports today say moves are being considered to ban diesel vehicles from London. This is because diesel cars cause 40% of the air pollution. I do not dispute the figures, but it would not be newsworthy if the headlines read ‘Diesel cars account for less than half the Capitals pollution. ‘
Banning diesel engines in London would bring an end to public transport on the surface and the tube network could not cope with the extra passenger numbers. Eventually a tram or trolleybus network would be established, and chargers for electric cars will be installed at many parking spaces.
The threat of change is a wonderful stimulus to development and the threat of combustion engines being banned from town centres will certainly stimulate electric car research and development.