As a child, did you ever hold a toy car and fantasize about getting behind its steering wheel? You can now. Well, sort of. For a couple of years, toy giant Takara Co. in Tokyo has been producing adult-size versions of its popular Choro-Q toy cars. So far, about 500 of the cars have been sold--enough to make the subsidiary that builds the cars, Choro-Q Motors Co., Japan's biggest seller of pure-electric vehicles to general consumers. The lead-acid-battery cars, called Q-Cars, are charged from a regular outlet, have an 80-kilometer range, and can go up to 50 kilometers per hour. [For a lineup of Q-Car models (in Japanese), see] They sell for about ¥ 1.25 million, or roughly US $11 500, and can be rented in several Japanese cities for $50 for six hours. To mark the 25th anniversary of the toy cars, the company gathered Q-Cars on 30 March, as shown, for a parade through the streets of Tokyo. A race is planned for later this year.

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

Keep Reading ↓Show less