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Episode 2: IndyCar technology under a hood near you: CNET On Cars

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CNET On Cars: Episode 2: IndyCar technology under a hood near you

16:03 /

Hit the track with Cooley to see - and hear - IndyCar tech, learn why turbos are like a magic trick and get the list of Top 5 car technologies you can blow off.

-Take a ride in some of the fastest tech on earth. Top 5 car technologies you can pass on, and turbos, they are not for just hot cars anymore, spinning up right now from CNET. We see cars differently. We love them on the road and under the hood, but also check the tech and are known for telling it like it is. The good, the bad, the bottom line. This is CNET on cars. Hello everybody, Brian Cooley coming to you this week from the motor sports museum at Canepa, just outside Silicon Valley in the hills near Sta. Cruz, California. Little later on the show, I'm gonna show some of my favorite, historic, high tech cars that live here. First though, let's start with racing. If I mentioned Indy Cars to you, you probably imagine some enormous V8 that burns alcohol, nothing like your car, right? But we found that Indy is just going through this revolution in engine technology that's made those power plants smaller, greener, but no less powerful. The new Indy car engine speck actually speaks the language of the show room, a vastly smaller 2.2 liter turbocharged direction injection V6. It runs E85 and in a series that gives teams credit for burning less of it. -It makes it more street loving. The cars you're buying now from local dealer, all the engines are being downsized. They're more to turborcharging to restore the performance, but are downsizing if you got their economy. -Welcome to Indy cars that translate to the real world while still making the hair on the back of your neck stands straight up. -This is a downsized engine with turbo charging, a lot of car maker are doing now in the vehicle you buy, down from 3.5 liters naturally aspirated V8 to this guy 2.2 liter, turbocharged, twin turbo V6, runny anywhere from the mid 500 to mid 600 horsepower range depending how much boost they dial in. Much of these cars performance is derived from the wind as the engine. Not 1 square inch of the body is random. Everything is about pulling air out from under the car and pushing it down on top of the car. Several times the car's weight in aerodynamic down force. In the theory, the could raise on the ceiling. Here's the real proof folks. Look how things stick to this tire. That's how gummy this guy is and notice it's got like molten splatter on it. That's what happens when your tire melts as you're putting this kind of down force, rotational force and lateral force. Mario Andretti, Indy race car, Sonoma Race, way tight close course. This is a big car in terms of power for a course like this, but the key part of it is not just the power, but those big boots, incredible brakes and road holding to the down force and air management to that body. In my line of work, you drive and get driven in a fair number of fast cars, but almost nothing like this. Cars of this caliber bend time. You can't enter and exit at a corner that quickly. [unk] ride that fast and there's no time to brake that [unk] coming up, but all the while, there he is, and it's a relentless feeling of capability. Once you get used to the impossibility of it all. -You go from normally aspirated, which throttle-- everything is just right there. It's your foot wear. The turbocharge on this go a slight bit of lag because the turbo charge has to spool up, but ultimately turbocharged engine sometimes gives you little more of a kick at the end and I love technology, you know, just give me the latest and greatest and that's that makes me smile. -Okay, clear. -Yeah. -Open up. -Woo! -Okay, 3 things lingering your mind after that laugh. First of, the power is endless and it comes on like that. It's all alone or all off. The brakes a like driving a big stake through this thing into the ground and how does it hang to those turns with those speeds. In fact, who experienced at an Indy car talks about the breaks. These brembo calipers clamp down on carbon ceramic disc, not steel. They low weight, resistance to fade, incredible durability and almost no break disc, sound appealing on your car? Yup, find them on Corvette ZR1 or optionally on AMG, Porsches or Audi, and you know they're coming down market. It's another heavy dotted line to the showroom. Okay, I come away with 2 major impressions here after a day with Indy cars; one, the control violence that comes on this machine is amazing. I've never been in an Indy Formula 1 car before, and secondly, what they are doing here, they are not kidding when they say they're developing what goes into consumers cars down the road, direct injections, smaller displacement, turbocharging, and automated transmission, sound familiar? Ever wonder why today's hot ride version of the BMW 1 series is coded 1M and an M1 like M3, M5, M6 because there already is an M1. Well, was an M1 and here it is, the 78 to 1980 BMW M1. They're only mid engine production car. It's got an inline 6 back there. I think it's absolutely gorgeous, not the most smoking performer, but a real icon. This one here at Canepa has mere 800 miles on. I want it. Now, seeing one of these on the road is exceedingly rare. Seeing a deer in headlights as you blaze down the road is exceedingly common. Luckily though, today's smarter driver has a whole array of new technologies that keep from hitting one. We have 1.1 million car collisions with deer, elk, moose every year in the U.S. According to State Farm and The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Greatest risk, that would be in November and in West Virginia. Lowest, just about any time in Hawaii. But no matter where or when you drive, we at CNET have seen some major advancement in night vision tech that could help. Using a forward infrared camera, cars can now display detailed views of what's ahead in the dark that your eyes can see. An image processing tech can figure out if there are people or large Animals out there and call them out on the car's screen with alerts. As this tech improves, it will also discern children and smaller animals as well. Now, night visions still have to make its way down from premium cars. So, until it shows up on something you can afford, use your down built-in tech, your eyes peripheral vision. Be aware of the side of the road at the same time you're looking ahead. It's not hard and know that deer often travel in packs. So, after you that one clear the road, you probably have more coming, coming up. I explain the technology that finds gold in car sewer as CNET on cars continues. We're back it's CNET on cars. I'm Brian Cooley. You may have notice there are turbos littered throughout our show today. From the new Indy car platform to this guy, the grand daddy of high tech cars, the Porsche 959 to a lot of the cars you're seeing in show rooms today, but what exactly is a turbo and how does it work? It's okay to ask. That's how we made today's car tech 1.01. Okay, this is a 72 Shadow Can-Am race car, 1200 horsepower, but still a great place to explain turbos from street cars on up, because it's all exposed right here. The mounts up why does the exhaust is coming out of the engine, which would normally just be vented out to the world through the tailpipe, but the turbocharger says, wait a minute, I can do something with that. This is the impeller. As the exhaust rushes passed that, which is basically a turbine, it spins it. Buy doing so, it turns a shaft that connects the impeller to this part, which is the compressor. That's connected to fresh air. It draws that air in under greater than atmospheric pressure thereby forcing air into the engine. That allows the car to put more fuel in the cylinders for every cycle as well. Now, that may sound like using more fuel, but it actually improves what's called an engines volumetric efficiency that's means getting more power out of an engine without making it bigger and thirstier. Now, a key ancillary to turbo is this thing called intercooler, basically a radiator, and the reason it's there is because these whole turbos really hot. If you would put air in directly the way it is, that air would be very expanded, relatively low density of oxygen molecules in a given volume, but by cooling it down, you make the charge denser, more oxygen in a given cubic inch let's say. Otherwise, this air would be so hot. It would kind of defeat the purpose of the turbo in the first place. So, a turbo is kind of a lot like an old water wheel on a grist mill except the turbo is so elegant because it's using the waste product of its system, the engine. The downside of a turbo is turbo lag. Think about it. You step on the gas. You open up the intake side of the engine. The sounds like are like little birds saying feed me, feed me, but this turbo hasn't increased its RPMs yet enough to do that because it's waiting for more exhaust pulses coming off the engine, but those are gonna be dependent on more ignition cycles. So, it's always a little bit behind the engine's operation. Sequential twin turbos and twin-scroll turbos are 2 newer designs that can each combat lag by allowing a turbo to spin up sooner with less exhaust flow, and finally the latest tech is variable geometry turbos. This can adjust their innards on the ply. So, just about any amount of exhaust of flow is able to spin them well and create boost. 1989, the Porsche 959 and when this car came out, in changed everything. We'd never seen this kind of tech of in the car before, twin sequential turbos, 6-speed transmission, the first one ever, adaptive air suspension, composite body panels, even a tire pressure monitoring system. This guy set the blueprint for what cars are struggling to nail today and today it's only two tents of a second slower than a 26-year newer 911 turbo. That's going okay for its age. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of technologies in cars today, I've got relief coming. As I give you a list of some, I think you can actually skip as CNET on cars continues. In 1957, this was state of the art for a retractable hard top. The Ford Fairlane Skyliner, its huge steel roof came up and settled back into a trunk the size of a stripped mine in a bit of a mechanical uproar that took almost a full minute. Today, we're seeing a renaissance in high tech retractible. Aluminum panels that fold like origami in as little as 14 seconds. This Mercedes SL also integrates a glass moon roof that darkens electrochemically. No shade to fiddle with, the first car to combine every type of sunburn opportunity. Welcome back to CNET on cars. I'm Brian Cooley. You know, in the course of shooting about 100 high tech car videos in a year, you develop a couple of opinions about what's good and what's not. So, put some tape on your eyebrows as I give you my top 5 list of in car technologies I think you can live without. Now, first of all, I'll admit this is my list. Yours may differ if you've got a soft spot for a particular car technology, but I think this matched pretty well to the way you and I drive. Let's get started, number 5, lane departure warning technology. I have 2 gripes with this well intentioned invention. Number one, the calibrations are all over the road if you will. Some will warn you when you're still well in your lane. Others don't warn you until you've run that guy off the road and number 2, the jury is out and if it even helps. A recent industry study found at least coincidentally Associated with higher accident rates. Let's this one percolate a few more model you use. Number 4, self parking. Now, I have qualm with the technology itself. It works often amazingly well, but if we can't trust you manage a car at 2 miles an hour, I don't you anywhere near me at 6, learn to park. Number 3, sports and stocks; come on, if you need real time info on your stocks while you're driving? You have people who manage them and more ironically simple information screens like don't get anybody anywhere. And if you're a sports fan, I'll guarantee, you've got apps and text alerts 5 deep on your phone and every station preset on the radio. This is one of those stupid because we could in technology. Navigation is number 2 because it's number 2. Let's just get it right out there. GPS navigation still one of the most expensive options on many cars and doesn't come close to the quality of what's probably on your smartphone for free with better voice control. This is the car industry's greatest tech failing. I keep it that at the number 1 slot though only because in car nav does have advantages in screen size, a mounted screen, and integration with the rest of the car systems plus windshield mounts look like hell. Before I get to the number 1 tech you can blow off, the single most useful one in car today, I think, is great voice command. When it works well, it makes everything else in the car easier, safer, and better. My 2 tips for checking it out when you're buying a new car is look for good concise on screen prompts because nobody wants to memorize what you can say and also check it out for natural language. Can you say yeah, not just yes-- The number 1 tech I think you can blow off in cars today is a media hard drive. Every car makers have been rushing to give you space on the car's hard drive to place media there like you need another collection of MP3s to manage on top of the one you already have on your computer, your iPad, your smartphone, oh, and you love the long hours you spend looking like a child molester sitting in your. All they see your hands moving below the door line. You're feeing discs in and out, but it doesn't look like that. This is an idea that never had had its moment. CNET on car is the show. Cnetoncars.com is the show page. Head on over there if you haven't already and you can find some back episodes of the show as well as my Cooley's logbook blog postings where I give you some behind the scene details and most importantly while you're there, give me your feed back. This show is new and it's a work in progress, dying to know what you think. Thanks again to Canepa Design here in Scotts Valley. I just wanna run around here and lick everything. Until we check tech the next time, I'm Brian Cooley, thanks for watching.
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