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1999 NDES Show
Automotive Technology
by Rick Smith

When I first attended the Design Engineering Show, I recall the live GE product demonstrations of how a bumper made of Lexan could withstand a sledge hammer blow. Continuing in that tradition, there were vehicles and vehicle related items scattered around this year's show in Chicago. Here are some of them that I saw:

Chronos concept car on IBM banner in show lobby
The CATIA software program from IBM allows car designers to check and test how parts will fit together and how the entire car will look BEFORE a single part is made.

Chrysler 300M at IBM Booth
Since CATIA has been used to design many of Chrysler's recent cars and has been used to create several recent Chrysler commercials, on display was the 1999 Chrysler 300M Sedan, fully designed using CATIA.

Browser view of BMW 5 Series CATIA file
IBM Corporation also demonstrated the newly added Web enabled capabilities of CATIA which allows designers and other users to collaborate and view CATIA files around the world.

Pacesetter Digital Driving Simulator
This simulator gives the driver a wide screen view of the road, while the force feedback steering wheel gives a truer sense of driving than most vehicle arcade games. Every bump in the road is felt in the wheel, much like a real car and a wide variety of racetracks can be simulated. There are several modes of driving from accelerator only, to full 5 speed with functional clutch and brake.

Example nameplates and grilles from Recent Car models

While bright chrome has served the auto industry for decades, in recent years a softer more "satiny" finish has been used and Enthone.OMI makes the decorative coatings and finishes that are used on many automotive grills and nameplates.

1999 Solectria Flash at Lincoln booth
Believe it or not, Wilmington, Massachusetts (near Boston) is home to the vehicle manufacturer, Solectria, which makes electric vehicles and trucks for off road use and third world export. This all-electric, emission-free micro pickup truck uses a 34kW AC Induction Drive motor from Lincoln Electric for power. The Solectria is 130"x55"x64" (330cm x 140cm x 163cm) and weighs only 2060 pounds (936kg). The standard model has a top speed of 45 mph (72kph) and a range of 45 miles at top speed. The unit can recharge in as little as 3 hours at 220VAC or 6 hours at 100VAC. The unit shown has a price of tag of $18,195.

Delphi Network Vehicle
Delphi Electronics showed their prototype "Network Vehicle". Based on a 1995 Blazer, this SUV was originally shown at the IBM booth at the 1997 Fall Comdex in Las Vegas. It sports a wide array of novel electronic features.

Delphi Network Vehicle Dashboard
The driver has a heads up display showing mode and ground speed in additional to a dash display. The unique feature is that the driver can request using voice commands to have either a "digital" or "analog" dashboard. ViaVoice technology from IBM is used for voice recognition. There are no door handles on conventional keylocks on this unit as each door is fully electronic and can be controlled via a remote control or by and Internet connection.

Delphi Network Vehicle Display Menus
Each passenger has their own display and with the center console display, these four onboard displays from Computer Dynamics are high intensity so they can be viewed in bright, direct sunlight. Each unit is running Windows 95 and allows each passenger access to 500 channels of TV entertainment or Internet access. A keyboard can be attached for email usage. A roof antenna gives the vehicle access to satellite TV broadcast and the Internet.

Interactive Seat and display of controllable air bladders
Cadillac displayed their new active seat technology called the "Adaptive Seat" which is capable of automatically adjusting to the driver or passenger while driving.

Tube of Fluorodyn Caulk at Thermodyn booth
While not as glamorous as some of the other items at the show, Thermodyn displayed Fluorodyn Caulk. A key ingredient is Viton, which is used extensively in modern vehicles and I am told that there are five pounds of Viton in some new vehicles. At $105 a tube, this caulk has an excellent temperature range of -10 to 450 degrees F (-23 to 232 degrees C) and excellent resistance to nasty chemicals (sulfuric acid, grease, motor oil, diesel fuel, methanol, antifreeze, transmission fluid and gasoline) making it a natural for specialized types of automotive related repairs and maintenance.

Al Unser, Jr.
During "Sports Day" (March 15th) at the show, Al Unser, Jr. signed autographs near his Penske car. Al Unser was the Indy Car World series Champion in 1990 and 1994; Two time Indy 500 Winner in 1992 and 1994 and has 31 career Indy Car victories through 1997. 1994 was his first year racing for Team Penske.

Penske Indy Car
Entering their 31st season of Champ car racing, Team Penske holds the record of the most pole positions, most race wins, most 500 mile race wins, most national championships and has the record for the most Indianapolis 500 pole positions and Wins.

Rear truck Window at Suhner booth
Suhner displayed a quiet flexible helix control shaft which is used (with a worm gear) to open and close the power rear vent windows used in pickup trucks with extended cabs.

Dated: March 1999

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