UK to allow electric scooters on roads, but only if you rent one

In a year of old-school dystopian catastrophes, here's one that's refreshingly futuristic: the UK is making it legal to use small electric scooters on Britain's roads, but not your small electric scooters. You must rent them, not own them.

It is expected to recommend that helmets be worn, although they will not be mandatory, and vehicles will be limited to a speed of 15mph.

Privately owned e-scooters will not be legalised.

Under the new rules to be set out by the Department for Transport, e-scooter companies could launch scooter-sharing schemes in UK towns and cities and it will be legal to ride one of these scooters on the road from Saturday.

The reality of rental scooters is that they become obstructions and annoyances, abandoned on pavements and in parking spots, with the companies running the schemes unable to track, recover or maintain them properly.

The UK government has an ongoing scandal over cash-for-contracts and no political bandwidth available to close the loopholes, so cynicism may be warranted as well as sighs. Making a particular vehicle road-legal in the same breath as mandating they be rented from hinky tech startups is going to make a lot of money for someone. Read the rest

Ford police SUV heats its interior to 133 degrees to kill COVID-19

Ford is testing new software for its Police Interceptor Utility Vehicles that heats the vehicle's interior to 133 degrees for 15 minutes to kill COVID-19. Ideally, this happens when nobody is inside the car. The new disinfecting technique–not unlike a kitchen oven's "self cleaning" feature–is based on research conducted with the Ohio State University Department of Microbiology. From a Ford statement:

Once activated, the vehicle’s powertrain and climate control systems work together automatically to elevate passenger compartment temperatures. The software warms up the engine to an elevated level, and both heat and fan settings operate on high. The software automatically monitors interior temperatures until the entire passenger compartment hits the optimal level, then that temperature is maintained for 15 minutes[...]

“Our studies with Ford Motor Company indicate that exposing coronaviruses to temperatures of 56 degrees Celsius, or 132.8 degrees Fahrenheit, for 15 minutes reduces the viral concentration by greater than 99 percent on interior surfaces and materials used inside Police Interceptor Utility vehicles,” said Jeff Jahnes and Jesse Kwiek, laboratory supervisors at The Ohio State University department of microbiology.

Law enforcement will have multiple ways to monitor progress. Hazard lights and taillights will flash in a pre-set pattern to notify when the process has begun, then will change at the end to signal completion. The vehicle’s instrument cluster will also indicate progress. A cool-down process brings the temperature down from its highest points.

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Watch a documentary about Batman's Batmobile through the ages

From the stately and elegant Batmobile Cadillac seen in the 1943 movie serials to the latest militaristic models, this is the on-screen history of Batman's Batmobile. Of course the true high point was the 1955 Lincoln Futura tricked out by George Barris for the 1960s TV series.

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"I bought the cheapest new car in the world" for $930 on Alibaba

Jalopnik's Jason Torchinsky bought his first new car on Alibaba. He paid $930 for the electric Changli NEMECA, batteries not included. The batteries, likely lead-acid, were an additional $350. Then came all the fees to bring the car from China to the USA and get it through customs. The final total for the car is closer to $3,300 which is still less expensive than the comparison vehicle: a golf cart. From Jalopnik:

What’s frustrating and amazing about all of this is just how difficult it is to find any accurate information about the total cost of shipping something like this from China to America. There’s more information out there for “real” cars, which, legally, the Changli is not, at least in America.

Even though for many elderly rural Chinese people this car—and many other ones very much like it—are absolutely used like real, usable cars, the truth is it’s far closer to a golf cart. It’s only got a 1.1 hp (possibly 1.6? I’ll try to dyno it when it arrives) motor and is much smaller and lighter than even the smallest and lightest of cars you can imagine.

It’s about 800 pounds, about half the weight of my Nissan Pao, which is about half the weight of almost everything else out there. It’s small.

In fact, on official documentation, it’s described, bafflingly, [as a four-wheel electric tricycle.]

Yes, a four-wheel electric tricycle. You know, like a biped with a third leg, or a five-legged quadrupedal dog.

"This Is How Much Buying The Cheapest New Car In The World Really Costs" (Jalopnik) Read the rest

Russian gearheads make the quietest car exhaust using 9 mufflers

The Russian gearheads of Garage 54 outfitted a car with nine mufflers to almost entirely dampen the exhaust system. While you may not hear this Max Max mobile coming, it's still hard to miss.

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The new Batmobile looks like a vintage muscle car

Matt Reeves, director of The Batman, just tweeted images of the new Batmobile and it looks like a souped-up 1970s muscle car. Less military, more Mopar. Nice ride, Bruce.

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Visiting the deserted Geneva Motor Show, empty due to coronavirus concerns

The annual Geneva International Motor Show is a huge deal in the auto world where all the carmakers show off their new vehicles to the world. Due to Covid-19 concerns, the Swiss government banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people, leading to the last-minute cancellation of the Motor Show. Auto photographer GF Williams showed up anyway and the above is what he saw. Read the rest

Crazy video of fireworks shooting from car as it's speeding down highway

On Friday night, someone driving on a Saskatoon, Canada highway was sure having a blast. Watch the CTV News video above.

According to the newscaster, "Saskatoon police have not confirmed whether they are investigating." At least they haven't confirmed that they aren't investigating.

(via Fark) Read the rest

Cops ask hearse thieves: please return the body in the casket, at least

"To the suspect(s) driving around in a Black Lincoln Navigator stolen from the 700 blk of Rosemead Bl just after 8PM today in uninc #Pasadena: Out of all the bad decisions you have made, at least make one good one & bring back the deceased person & casket inside the Navigator," tweeted the LA County Sheriff's department last night.

The suspects have not been identified and are still at large.

Image by Michael Kauer from Pixabay Read the rest

Skull headlight covers for your hot rod

Snazz up your older model grocery-getter with these skull headlight covers! I have no idea if they are DOT approved but they're sure to turn some craniums. (See what I did there?) Skullspiration writes that they are designed by Est2rad Custom in Watsonville, CA but the eBay search link in the post show products from the Russian Federation so... your mileage may vary.

(via Weird Universe) Read the rest

Watch the Tesla Cybertruck go... Back to the Future!

Don't miss the license plate. (Elon McFly) Read the rest

New Vermont bill introduced to permit emoji on license plates

Vermont State Rep. Rebecca White (D-Windsor) introduced legislation in the Vermont House of Representatives that would enable citizens to pick one of six emoji to include on their vehicle's license plates. (Last year, Queensland, Australia also began offering emoji on plates.) The Vermont bill doesn't specify which emoji will be included as choices. From the short form description of bill H.866:

This bill proposes to create a new special registration plate with the choice of one of six emojis in addition to the distinctive number assigned by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles or the numerals and letters selected by the registered owner of a vehicle as a vanity plate.

(Engadget)

Modified image based on original by Jaycarlcooper (CC BY-SA 3.0) Read the rest

Florida men play Uno in the road during a red light

In a prank commenting on bad traffic in Cape Coral, Florida, Paxten Sester and his buddies passed time during a long red light by playing Uno in the middle of the road. Dylan Kjos caught the minute-long gag on video for TikTok and its since gone viral.

"(After a minute,) we rushed back into the truck, thinking that the light was about to change. And we still sat in the truck for about another minute," Kjos said.

According to UPI, "Kjos and his friends said they were aiming to poke fun at the local traffic, which they said is particularly slow during the winter.

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Police accidentally auction off car with big stash of drugs hidden in its bumper

In Thailand, police auctioned off a Honda CRV that had been seized in a drug bust. The buyer spent 586,00 baht (US$19,000) on the vehicle. Later, a mechanic discovered a secret compartment behind the bumper that contained nearly 100,000 amphetamine pills. From the BBC News:

Officials said they would conduct more thorough searches in future.

"According to protocols, we search every vehicle we have received and this case was no exception. However, we couldn't find anything at the time, perhaps because the pills had been well hidden," said Niyom Termsrisuk, secretary general of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), according to the Bangkok Post.

image for illustration only: "Ritalin" by Sponge (CC BY-SA 3.0) Read the rest

Watch this truck fall through an icy lake and completely vanish

A gentleman attempted to drive his pickup truck across the iced over Big Shag Lake in Marquette County, Michigan. Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned. From the Mining Journal:

Crossroads Truck Repair and the (Michigan Department of Natural Resources) assessed the scene and advised the driver that they have 72 hours from when the incident occurred to pay to have their vehicle removed from the lake...

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy will evaluate the lake after the vehicle’s removal for any fluid cleanup.

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Evidence that a car isn't a pedestrian and probably shouldn't use the pedestrian lane

Yesterday in New York, police spent hours attempting to remove this Honda from the pedestrian lane of the Pulaski Bridge connecting Brooklyn and Queens. Apparently, it was a stolen car and the driver likely escaped through a window.

(ABC7NY) Read the rest

Marvel at this autonomous, drifting DeLorean

MARTY is the name of this 1981 DeLorean that researchers from Stanford’s Dynamic Design Lab customized into a self-driving electric car. Now, Jon Goh and Tushar Goel have augmented MARTY so it's capable of drifting through a complicated driving course with incredible precision. From Stanford:

Conducting research in high-speed, complicated driving conditions like this is a bread-and-butter approach of the Dynamic Design Lab, where mechanical engineer Chris Gerdes and his students steer autonomous cars into challenging driving situations that only the top human drivers can reliably handle. On-board computers measure the car’s response over dozens of runs, and the engineers translate those vehicle dynamics into software that could one day help your car quickly dodge a pedestrian that darts into the road.

Most automated vehicles on the road have been designed to handle simpler cases of driving, such as staying in a lane or maintaining the right distance from other cars.

“We’re trying to develop automated vehicles that can handle emergency maneuvers or slippery surfaces like ice or snow,” Gerdes said. “We’d like to develop automated vehicles that can use all of the friction between the tire and the road to get the car out of harm’s way. We want the car to be able to avoid any accident that’s avoidable within the laws of physics.”

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