Open Source Goes Green!!!
This weekend I had a chance to attend the Green Transportation Exposition. It was a very small affair, something you could cruise through in 15 minutes if you didn't blink and 16 minutes if you did. There were the representatives from CalCars a citizens group that is creating prototypes for Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) which combine charging your car through the grid as well as from the hybrid engine. They are really ahead of the game, demonstrating production kits for retrofitting your Prius to be a PHEV. I have to say it's quite impressive to see how far they have come. I remember meeting the founder of the organization when he was just starting at a holiday party in 2003. He had photocopied talking points, and I was thinking "who does this guy think he is?" Suspending skepticism is a great way to change the world. Now he's been written up in the New York Times and BusinessWeek.
That far out vision brings me to another and that is of the "Society for Sustainable Mobility" that is the home for the Open Source Green Vehicle (OSGV) which is an organization that is applying open source principles of allowing literally hundred of individuals work on designing a new green vehicle, the Kernel. (This is a play on the kernel of an operating system, which is the core of the Linux operating systems. You know if geeks weren't so geeky, they'd make great english majors, and conversely is english majors weren't so artsy they'd make great engineers) The crux of their design is a modular power source connected to an electrical drivetrain (similar to the Tesla electric roadster) which means you can plug in different types of energy sources depending on your needs and locale. They are hoping to get this car eventually built, by looking at alternatives to conventional auto manufacturing such as using plastic body parts (reminiscent of the old Fiero)
Now will the Kernel(tm) ever make it to production? Who knows? However, it does not matter since it's spawning new ideas about design and collaboration. I'm not a big fan of autos, thinking the infrastructure independent of the power used has changed the way we relate to each other, but I do know that the problem of global warming is going to be solved from many angles and these are two automotive alternatives.