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Introducing the World's First, Fastest (and Only) Electric Log Car

The Pioneer "Cedar Rocket" holds a few titles. In addition to being the world’s fastest log car, it also happens to be the world’s first and only log car, at least as far as Road & Track knows. Its Guinness World Record is in a category unto itself, but that doesn’t mean the cruiser isn’t impressive. 

The vehicle was constructed by log house builder Bryan Reid Sr. (you might know him from the HGTV Canada show Timber Kings) and two of his friends, a mechanic and a turbine manufacturer. Reid had been considering a log car for a while, but the idea started to pick up steam when the three friends found themselves chatting at an auto auction in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Reid told Road & Track: “We're standing there, the three of us—there's a turbine manufacturer, a mechanic, and a log builder. Gerald started doing a little sketch, and pretty soon he had a fun-shaped log with tires and wheels. And then he sketches turbines on it. Gerald's doing this diddly-doodlin', and all of the sudden the idea comes."

The single-passenger car took more than 3000 hours of work to build. It’s made from a Western Red Cedar log (the rings suggest it’s as much as 240 years old) with repurposed parts from a Mazda RX-8. It’s an electric car powered by eight very heavy lithium-ion batteries, and weighs, in all, about 2200 lbs.

To achieve the world record, Guinness required the Cedar Rocket to make a run of 31 miles per hour within an hour, which it did, at the Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona.

Reid told Autoblog that the builders briefly considered a fuel engine but, "Then we starting thinking, man, this is 2016, and that's why we went totally electric. We're glad we did. It worked out great."

The car will be auctioned off at the place where the concept initially came together: the Barrett-Jackson car auction. Until then it will be on tour, impressing onlookers and raising money and awareness for veterans groups.

To see more awesome photos of the world’s first, fastest, and only electric log car, scroll below, and check out the websites for Pioneer Log Homes and The Pioneer Cedar Rocket.

Banner image via Instagram // timberkingbryansr.

[h/t Digg]

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Design Firm Envisions the Driverless School Bus of the Future
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Engineers have already designed vehicles capable of shuttling pizzas, packages, and public transit passengers without a driver present. But few have considered how this technology can be used to transport our most precious cargo: kids. Though most parents would be hesitant to send their children on a bus with no one in the driver's seat, one design firm believes autonomous vehicle technology can change their rides for the better. Their new conceptual project, called Hannah, illustrates their ideas for the future of school bus travel.

As Co.Design reports, Seattle-based design firm Teague tackled both the practical challenges and the social hurdles when designing their driverless school bus. Instead of large buses filled with dozens of kids, each Hannah vehicle is designed to hold a maximum of six passengers at a time. This offers two benefits: One, fewer kids on the route means the bus can afford to pick up each student at his or her doorstep rather than a designated bus stop. Facial recognition software would ensure every child is accounted for and that no unwanted passengers can gain access.

The second benefit is that a smaller number of passengers could help prevent bullying onboard. Karin Frey, a University of Washington sociologist who consulted with the team, says that larger groups of students are more likely to form toxic social hierarchies on a school bus. The six seats inside Hannah, which face each other cafeteria table-style, would theoretically place kids on equal footing.

Another way Hannah can foster a friendlier school bus atmosphere is inclusive design. Instead of assigning students with disabilities to separate cars, everyone can board Hannah regardless of their abilities. The vehicle drives low to the ground and extends a ramp to the road when dropping off passengers. This makes the boarding and drop-off process the same for everyone.

While the autonomous vehicles lack human supervisors, the buses can make up for this in other ways. Hannah can drive both backwards and forwards and let out children on either side of the car (hence the palindromic name). And when the bus isn’t ferrying kids to school, it can earn money for the district by acting as a delivery truck.

Still, it may be a while before you see Hannah zipping down your road: Devin Liddel, the project’s head designer, says it could take at least five years after driverless cars go mainstream for autonomous school buses to start appearing. All the regulations that come with anything involving public schools would likely prevent them from showing up any sooner. And when they do arrive, Teague suspects that major tech corporations could be the ones to finally clear the path.

"Could Amazon or Lyft—while deploying a future of roving, community-centric delivery vehicles—take over the largest form of mass transit in the United States as a sort of side gig?" the firm's website reads. "Hannah is an initial answer, a prototype from the future, to these questions."

[h/t Co.Design]

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Wisconsin Considers Building a Highway Lane for Self-Driving Cars
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Self-driving cars are already a reality, as companies like Google and Tesla have demonstrated. But the logistics of getting them on the roads with human-operated cars have slowed down their long-anticipated takeover. In Wisconsin, highway planners are looking into one way to accommodate autonomous vehicles when they arrive. Dedicated lanes for driverless cars are being considered for I-94, USA Today’s Journal Sentinel reports.

The project is supported by Foxconn, the Taiwanese tech supplier building a new facility 20 miles outside of downtown Milwaukee. Once the site is complete, it will cover 20 million square feet and employ up to 13,000 people. According to the company, setting aside space for self-driving vehicles could ease traffic congestion, both from new workers and cargo trucks, after the factory opens.

Officials were already planning to expand I-94 from six lanes to eight to accommodate the eventual increase in traffic, but Foxconn says that may not be enough. “We’re thinking about two years down the road; they’re thinking 20 years down the road,” Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, said at a meeting of the Greater Milwaukee Committee.

While Sheehy said the autonomous car lane proposal is “on the table,” he didn’t make any promises regarding the plan’s future. Wisconsin isn’t the only state looking ahead to new developments in road travel: In October, tech investors pitched an idea to Washington state officials to convert Interstate 5 into a corridor for autonomous vehicles between Seattle and Vancouver.

[h/t Journal Sentinel]

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