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2017’s Top Ten Tech Cars: Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Energy efficiency today, robotic driving tomorrow

2 min read
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
An Exciting Minivan: Even in all-electric mode, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid gives superb performance and range while using energy efficiently.
Photo: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Surprisingly, there’s never been a hybrid minivan of any kind on the U.S. market. So, when Chrysler rolled out not only a hybrid minivan but a frugal plug-in model, it was a big deal.


194 kilowatts


84 mpge


32 mpg

This year’s Pacifica sheds 113 kilograms (250 pounds) thanks to a lightened platform, which includes aluminum sliding doors and an aluminum-and-magnesium lift gate, both featuring hands-free operation. The minivan’s 3.6-liter V-6 runs on the fuel-saving Atkinson cycle—as in hybrids like the Toyota Prius—and links to an ingenious twin electric-motor arrangement that can send as much as 194 kilowatts (260 horsepower) to the front wheels. A 16-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack with 96 cells is designed and built in Michigan and, together with related electronics, weighs in at 295 kg (650 lb) and stretches 75 centimeters (2.5 feet). It fits right in the receptacle where the Stow ’n Go seats disappear into the floor in the nonhybrid version. Many current hybrids use one electric motor-generator exclusively to recapture energy, another to provide propulsion, but the Chrysler innovates again: Its dual electric motors integrate an electronic clutch and planetary gearset. That allows both motors to act as traction motors, boosting the efficiency and scalability of the system.

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This Wearable Neck Patch Can Diagnose Concussions

Self-powered sensors convert neck strain into electrical pulses to detect head trauma in athletes

4 min read
image of back of man's head and shoulders with a patch taped to his lower neck; right image is a time lapse image of a man's head extending far forward and back, simulating a case of whiplash

The prototype patch in this research is shown in (a) on the left; on the right (b) is the kind of head rotation that can yield an electrical response from the patch.

Juan Pastrana

Nelson Sepúlveda was sitting in the stands at Spartan Stadium, watching his hometown Michigan State players bash heads with their cross-state football rivals from the University of Michigan, when he had a scientific epiphany.

Perhaps the nanotechnologies he had been working on for years—paper-thin devices known as ferroelectret nanogenerators that convert mechanical energy into electrical energy—could help save these athletes from the ravages of traumatic brain injury.

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Video Friday: PoKeBo Cubes

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

2 min read
A young girl looks at a cluster of three simple robots facing each other on a table

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

RoboCup 2022: 11 July–17 July 2022, BANGKOK
IEEE CASE 2022: 20 August–24 August 2022, MEXICO CITY
CLAWAR 2022: 12 September–14 September 2022, AZORES, PORTUGAL
ANA Avatar XPRIZE Finals: 4 November–5 November 2022, LOS ANGELES
CoRL 2022: 14 December–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Enjoy today’s videos!

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Electromagnetic Simulations in Automotive Industry

Learn how an electromagnetic simulator can be applied to various scenarios in the automotive industry

1 min read

This whitepaper shows several examples of how WIPL-D electromagnetic simulator can be applied to various scenarios in the automotive industry: a radar antenna mounted on a car bumper operating at 24 GHz, 40 GHz, and 77 GHz, an EM obstacle detection at 77 GHz, and vehicle-to-vehicle communication at 5.9 GHz. Download this free whitepaper now!