What’s the Diference Between a Taxi and a Private Hire Car?

The public must be protected from rogue operators when they want a car to pick them up. Taxis advertise that they are taxis and advertise when they are available for hire. Private hire vehicles must be booked in advance via a registered operator, carry only limited advertising and cannot be hailed or tout for business. Both types of businesses are controlled by a local authority to ensure that a safe service is provided to the public. Both operators have specific insurance covering the passengers, the vehicles must be maintained to a high standard and the drivers must perform a good service. Some operators are both private hire and taxi companies.

Technology is blurring the difference between taxis and private hire. In the past a telephone call from a venue or a phone box could be used to call a private hire car or a taxi. A taxi could also be hailed but it would be illegal for a private hire car to stop if hailed. Smart phone aps using GPS linked to a data base of GPS enabled private cars allow these companies step into the shoes of the taxis. Some aps even allow the customers to rate the driver in the same way that Check-a-trade rates services.

I would be happy for either to take me to give me a lift. Does the public care? I think not.

Advances in Lithium Cells

The cheapest lithium rechargeable cells at the moment are 18650 size, somewhat larger than AA cells. Since lithium batteries have about twice the voltage, the size difference prevents lithium cells being put into equipment designed for nominal 1.5V cells.

A recent laboratory developments has been the incorporation of voids in the lithium anode. These cells expand slightly as they charge and this may some lithium to leave the electrode. The incorporation of pores into the electrode allows the components to expand into the voids rather than breaking free. This will allow for quicker charging, a longer life and a higher capacity.

Battery technology seems to be following a version of ‘Moore’s Law’ in that capacity is doubling every five years or less – and of course the price of lithium batteries is coming down. I estimate that in five years the Tesla S will have a range of 600miles (up from the current 300) which will make electric cars very cost-effective.

A great deal of technology has gone into reciprocating car engines and there will be a great deal of resistance for manufacturers to abandon the internal combustion motor. I remember how long the old contact breaker points in distributors soldiered on in the face of solid state switching. No doubt legislation will hasten the adoption of electric vehicles as towns and cities ban polluting vehicles from their centres.

2013 Tesla Model S (11322176214) cropped.jpg

The Tesla model S.  Changing the fuse, connectors and inverter allowed this model to reach 60mph in 2.8 seconds – quicker than the fastest McLaren.  Not bad for a family hatch back!

Short Range Radio for Cops?

It is frustrating for emergency vehicle to be held up by traffic; the problem being particularly prevalent for motorway cops racing to where they are needed in heavy traffic at weekends and bank holidays.  On those days there seem to be a large number of ‘Outside Laners’.  In bright conditions the blue flashing lights on the cops behind them are simply not easily seen by inexperienced drivers.  They hold up emergency vehicles.  Clearly the cops need another means to warn drivers to move over.

If the emergency vehicle had a short  range forward directed radio beam, whose intensity is speed related, it could be picked up by other vehicles.  This signal can then transformed into an audible and visual signals to alert drivers of cop cars approaching rapidly from behind.

Best Police Cars
Motorway Cops’ from Central Motorway Police Group take loan of a …
Motorway Cops‘ from Central Motorway Police Group take loan of a Lotus Evora to support their campaign to raise awareness and promote road safety.midlandslotus.co.uk

Continue reading Short Range Radio for Cops?

Graphene – Now to be Put to Use.

Graphene – an allotrope of carbon which is strong, transparent and a good conductor of heat and electricity. An obvious use for this material is in the manufacture of light emitting diode bulbs. Currently LED’s have a light output limited by the heat they generate which adversely affects the semiconductor. Hitherto this material is held between metal electrode – the downside being that metals are opaque and light is absorbed and turned into heat. Graphene electrodes do not suffer this disadvantage yet can be made smaller since they are stronger and can still conduct the heat away. Hence a probable saving of 20% in power wastage over current LED bulbs.

I predict a similar improvement by the adoption of graphene in the electrodes of solar panels ……. for the same reasons.

John Silvester on motoring and other musings