The DARPA 2005 Challenge is a once in a lifetime chance for robotic engineers, companies and engineers to show their stuff. What is learned during such contests probably saves the Department of Defense hundreds of millions in Research and Development costs. To the taxpayers this is exceptional news indeed.
Recently I had a conversation with one of the teams, which is poised to win this years contest, although many would agree upon reviewing all these teams that they are all winners, as they bring to the table the future of robotics a frontier, which will be conquered indeed. This team told me that since they were using Off-The-Shelf Technology for their platform vehicle, meaning it was your basic SUV, that they were not sure if it had enough of a gas tank to make the whole trip. In fact since the speeds would be around 20-25 miles per hour over rugged terrain and since the vehicle would be running the modified electrical system full blast, with two alternators, RV style air-conditioning system and computer processors that it would be a gas hog? And you thought you paid a lot for gasoline? In any case this unmanned ground vehicles or UGV would be very inefficient indeed.
I propose that to over come these issues and not just on DARPA Challenge 2005 vehicles but on all off road vehicles that we use the vibrational energy to power up LED headlights. The bumps in the road can power up the headlights using electromagnetic induction technology to charge a capacitor instead of the headlights working off a battery. Currently there are some nifty micro-flashlights being used which you can buy which use a similar technique and are available thanks to the Everlite Flashlight technology research lab. These smaller flashlights work by shaking them for about thirty seconds and shine for about 6 minutes and they shine quite bright since they use a very bright LED light.
If these lights get too dim from too smooth of a road, yah, we wish, then the system would revert back to the battery, but only if and when this occurs. By saving fuel we can extend the range and perhaps these vehicles can go the full 200-mile course on a single tank of gas. Perhaps this is a good way to save fuel and win the 2-million dollar DARPA Grand Challenge Prize Money? Think on this and God’s Speed.