2015's Top Ten Tech Cars: Rolls-Royce Wraith

Satellite to Earth: Downshift a bit

2 min read
2015's Top Ten Tech Cars: Rolls-Royce Wraith
Photo: Rolls-Royce

Video: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

For 111 years, the Rolls-Royce experience has been all about wafting, often in chauffeur-driven comfort. Now the stunning Wraith coupe adds a computerized wingman, using GPS data to automatically select the perfect gear for the road ahead. The Wraith’s Satellite-Aided Transmission (SAT) is a production-car first for the BMW-owned Rolls-Royce.

Rolls-Royce engineer Phil Harnett, formerly with BMW’s Formula One team, saw a colleague working on SAT as a predevelopment project. “I saw how perfect it was for Rolls-Royces—dynamic yet effortless—and brought it into the Wraith,” Harnett says.

This yachtlike fastback coupe marries a 465-kilowatt (624-horsepower) V-12 to the silken, eight-speed automatic transmission produced by the ZF Group, based in Germany. But the Wraith takes the ZF unit to the next level, adapting to a driver’s individual style and applying GPS route and location data to anticipate and change gears. The engine’s electronic control unit adds an algorithm that responds to upcoming road patterns.

Price: US $298,225

Power train: 465-kW (624-hp) 6.6-L twin-turbo V-12

Overall fuel economy: 15.7 L/100 km (15 mpg)

Rolls-Royce spokesman Gerry Spahn says the system works especially well on curvy terrain, off-ramps, or roundabouts. As the car heads into a series of curves, for example, the SAT will automatically hold a lower gear to prevent midcorner upshifts and to avoid upsetting the car’s occupants with needless gear changes. In testing on public roads, the system has reduced the number of automated shifts by up to 30 percent, Spahn says. Besides reducing wear and tear on the transmission, the system also improves responsiveness and fuel economy. Because it requires no additional components beyond existing sensors, controllers, and the navigation system, no weight is added to the vehicle.

The SAT isn’t mapped for altitude and topography, so it can’t anticipate hills and change gears accordingly. But that kind of functionality could be baked into a future version.

“Customers have asked about altitude,” Spahn says. “It’s not technically impossible; it just hasn’t been applied.”

The Conversation (0)

mRNA Vaccines for the Win; But mRNA Therapies…?

Unclear road ahead for biotech behind COVID-19 immunization successes

4 min read
dna strand and pills
iStockphoto

Moderna, the company behind one of the best-selling COVID-19 vaccines in the world, is trying to prove that its messenger RNA (mRNA) platform is not a one-trick pony.

Earlier this month, the biotech firm announced that an experimental mRNA therapy, called AZD8601, was well tolerated and showed hints of efficacy when injected directly into the hearts of seven people undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less

Years Later, Alphabet’s Everyday Robots Have Made Some Progress

Do 100+ mobile manipulators signal that Everyday Robots are inevitable?

7 min read
GIF of a skinny white robotic torso with a camera for a head and a single arm drawing a squeegee across a coffee table
Everyday Robots

Last week, Google or Alphabet or X or whatever you want to call it announced that its Everyday Robots team has grown enough and made enough progress that it's time for it to become its own thing, now called, you guessed it, "Everyday Robots." There's a new website of questionable design along with a lot of fluffy descriptions of what Everyday Robots is all about. But fortunately, there are also some new videos and enough details about the engineering and the team's approach that it's worth spending a little bit of time wading through the clutter to see what Everyday Robots has been up to over the last couple of years and what their plans are for the near future.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less

EP29LPSP: Applications in Plasma Physics, Astronomy, and Highway Engineering

Ideal for demanding cryogenic environments, two-part EP29LPSP can withstand temperatures as low as 4K

3 min read

Since its introduction in 1978, Master Bond EP29LPSP has been the epoxy compound of choice in a variety of challenging applications. Ideal for demanding cryogenic environments, two-part EP29LPSP can withstand temperatures as low as 4K and can resist cryogenic shock when, for instance, it is cooled from room temperature to cryogenic temperatures within a 5-10 minute window. Optically clear EP29LPSP has superior physical strength, electrical insulation, and chemical resistance properties. It also meets NASA low outgassing requirements and exhibits a low exotherm during cure. This low viscosity compound is easy to apply and bonds well to metals, glass, ceramics, and many different plastics. Curable at room temperature, EP29LPSP attains its best results when cured at 130-165°F for 6-8 hours.

In over a dozen published research articles, patents, and manufacturers' specifications, scientists and engineers have identified EP29LPSP for use in their applications due to its unparalleled performance in one or more areas. Table 1 highlights several commercial and research applications that use Master Bond EP29LPSP. Table 2 summarizes several patents that reference EP29LPSP. Following each table are brief descriptions of the role Master Bond EP29LPSP plays in each application or invention.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less