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Building the (Fictional) Car of the Future

Reading today about the Audi A2 concept car unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show provoked an invitingly distracting mid-day thought experiment about cars of the future. (At left, the Audio A2 Concept via Autoviva.com's Flickr)

The car comes equipped with a new feature called "Semi-Autonomous Drive," which assumes driving responsibilities when motorists find themselves caught in traffic. No doubt a practical solution designed to tackle an annoyingly commonplace problem—and, in places as calamitously congested as Los Angeles and New York City, a veritable Godsend.

Automotive design has been headed in this direction for some time. Google recently toyed with a driverless vehicle, to questionable critical success, and the Lexus LX 360 L boasts a strikingly efficient self-parking system that uses sonar sensors to squeeze itself into desired locations.

It appears that automotive engineers are programming the people right out of the cars—or, more accurately, attempting to program the potential for human error out of the car.

Driverless cars, of course, are nothing new in pop culture. KITT from Knight Rider possessed very impressive self-navigating abilities, not to mention the ability to talk, print money, engage various cruise modes (including, curiously, "pursuit" and "super pursuit"), and operate a state-of-the-art medical scanner. Why all GPS devices are not programmed with William Daniels' voice, by the way, is beyond me.
(Photo of KITT's instrumentation, at left, by WikiMedia uploader Amux)

So, here's the experiment: Help us design the perfect car of the future using creative features from pop culture. Do what Homer Simpson did for Powell Motors when he designed "The Homer" (at left). If you like the idea of your car having three horns because you can never find one when you're mad, like his did, go for it. If you like that the horns play "La Cucaracha," also like his did, even better.

Throw in some of the better fictional features—like the safety foam feature the police cars from Demolition Man offered—and toss out some of the less functional ones, like George Jetson's single joystick steering mechanism. How did he alter his altitude, anyway? Think KITT's turbo boost option was highly impractical? We're fine with that—on the cutting room floor it goes... You see where I'm going with this.

What automotive design innovations from movies, cartoons, and television would you select to build your perfect car?

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Live Smarter
This AI Tool Will Help You Write a Winning Resume
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iStock

For job seekers, crafting that perfect resume can be an exercise in frustration. Should you try to be a little conversational? Is your list of past jobs too long? Are there keywords that employers embrace—or resist? Like most human-based tasks, it could probably benefit from a little AI consultation.

Fast Company reports that a new start-up called Leap is prepared to offer exactly that. The project—started by two former Google engineers—promises to provide both potential minions and their bosses better ways to communicate and match job needs to skills. Upload a resume and Leap will begin to make suggestions (via highlighted boxes) on where to snip text, where to emphasize specific skills, and roughly 100 other ways to create a resume that stands out from the pile.

If Leap stopped there, it would be a valuable addition to a professional's toolbox. But the company is taking it a step further, offering to distribute the resume to employers who are looking for the skills and traits specific to that individual. They'll even elaborate on why that person is a good fit for the position being solicited. If the company hires their endorsee, they'll take a recruiter's cut of their first year's wages. (It's free to job seekers.)

Although the service is new, Leap says it's had a 70 percent success rate landing its users an interview. The rest is up to you.

[h/t Fast Company]

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NASA/JPL, YouTube
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Space
Watch NASA Test Its New Supersonic Parachute at 1300 Miles Per Hour
NASA/JPL, YouTube
NASA/JPL, YouTube

NASA’s latest Mars rover is headed for the Red Planet in 2020, and the space agency is working hard to make sure its $2.1 billion project will land safely. When the Mars 2020 rover enters the Martian atmosphere, it’ll be assisted by a brand-new, advanced parachute system that’s a joy to watch in action, as a new video of its first test flight shows.

Spotted by Gizmodo, the video was taken in early October at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Narrated by the technical lead from the test flight, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Ian Clark, the two-and-a-half-minute video shows the 30-mile-high launch of a rocket carrying the new, supersonic parachute.

The 100-pound, Kevlar-based parachute unfurls at almost 100 miles an hour, and when it is entirely deployed, it’s moving at almost 1300 miles an hour—1.8 times the speed of sound. To be able to slow the spacecraft down as it enters the Martian atmosphere, the parachute generates almost 35,000 pounds of drag force.

For those of us watching at home, the video is just eye candy. But NASA researchers use it to monitor how the fabric moves, how the parachute unfurls and inflates, and how uniform the motion is, checking to see that everything is in order. The test flight ends with the payload crashing into the ocean, but it won’t be the last time the parachute takes flight in the coming months. More test flights are scheduled to ensure that everything is ready for liftoff in 2020.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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