2018’s Top 10 Tech Cars: Lucid Air

Accelerates as fast as a falling anvil

2 min read
Photo of the Lucid Air
An insane 1,000 horsepower is packed inside a car that’s one part spaceship, one part California spa.
Photo: Lucid Motors

This Year’s
Winning Autos

The United States is already littered with the ruins of failed or failing electric car companies: Aptera, Coda, Faraday Future, Fisker. But Lucid Motors might just have a shot at being a viable, smaller-scale competitor to Tesla.

First, there’s experience: Peter Rawlinson, the company’s chief technology officer, was chief engineer on Tesla’s Model S. Chief designer Derek Jenkins is a former Mazda man, and his keen eye for modern design shows: The car is one part spaceship, one part California spa.

The Silicon Valley company claims the Air will arrive with hurricane force in 2019, including first-in-class acceleration: as little as 2.5 seconds from 0 to 60 miles (97 kilometers) per hour, for the top-end model with all-wheel-drive, dual electric motors, and an insane 1,000 horsepower. Lucid has already released videos of the Air hustling to 378 km/h (235 mph), and the company claims it’s not done yet. A maximum 644-km (400-mile) driving range would be on par with many gasoline-powered cars, and it would whip any current EV, including Tesla’s.

Lucid claims that a unique lithium-ion battery chemistry, in cells developed with LG Chem and Samsung SDI, will exceed current benchmarks in energy density, power, and battery life, including “breakthrough tolerance” of DC fast charging.

MOTOR

298 kilowatts

RANGE (BASE MODEL)

386 km

PRICE

US $60,000

Rawlinson points out the battery’s shape in the Air as well: It’s shaped to create more foot room in the back seat, where optional 55-degree reclining chairs and fold-down “picnic tables” create the effect of a first-class airliner seat. The Air is prepped for the coming age of autonomy as well, with Mobileye cameras, radars, and lidar that Lucid says could deliver fully autonomous operation. Those lidar sensors would be a first for any production automobile.

Lucid hopes to build 10,000 Airs in 2019, eventually expanding to 100,000 per year, with about half of them destined for Chinese buyers. It’ll kick things off with a rear-drive model with 400 horsepower and 240 miles of range, priced from US $60,000 in the United States, or $52,500 after a $7,500 federal tax break. Yet even $100K—for the promised top-shelf model—wouldn’t be unreasonable for an eye-catching EV that has space like a limo and can go faster and farther than any electric sedan yet.

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Autonomous Boats Seem More Solvable Than Autonomous Cars

MIT's Roboats will find useful applications in Amsterdam canals

2 min read

It's become painfully obvious over the past few years just how difficult fully autonomous cars are. This isn't a dig at any of the companies developing autonomous cars (unless they're the sort of company who keeps on making ludicrous promises about full autonomy, of course)— it's just that the real world is a complex place for full autonomy, and despite the relatively well constrained nature of roads, there's still too much unpredictability for robots to operate comfortably outside of relatively narrow restrictions.

Where autonomous vehicles have had the most success is in environments with a lot of predictability and structure, which is why I really like the idea of autonomous urban boats designed for cities with canals. MIT has been working on these for years, and they're about to introduce them to the canals of Amsterdam as cargo shuttles and taxis.

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Could Zinc Gel Chemistry Outperform Flow Batteries?

Australian startup's new stationary storage tech nods to the time-tested, lead-acid cell

4 min read

Researchers at the Gelion Technologies Laboratory and Testing Facility in Sydney, Australia, working on the “gel-ion” (non-flow) zinc-bromine Gelion Endure battery

Gelion Technologies

Maybe flow batteries aren’t always everything they’re cracked up to be. A new technology from Australia is certainly raising this prospect, offering a novel approach to stationary energy storage—whose packaging at least harkens back to the old, familiar car battery.

Flow batteries use liquid electrolytes held externally in tanks and which circulate through the cells using pumps and piping. Their capacity is proportional to the size of the tanks, making them easily scalable. In theory, they should be a good choice for applications, such as storing surplus energy from renewables. But their reliance on mechanical components and intricate design presents drawbacks, including highly specialized maintenance needs, while flow batteries' electrolytes can be costly, corrosive or toxic. This has inhibited flow batteries from gaining widespread deployment, despite increasing improvements.

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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.

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