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Power Transportation Earth Technology

Students Build 2752 MPG Hypermiling Vehicle 233

Posted by timothy
from the seattle-to-vegas-and-back dept.
MikeChino sends along this awe-inspiring excerpt: "Think claims of electric vehicles that get over 200 MPG are impressive? Try this on for size: a group of mechanical engineering students at Cal Poly have developed a vehicle that can get up to 2752.3 MPG — and it doesn't even use batteries. The Cal Poly Supermileage Team's wondercar, dubbed the Black Widow, has been under construction since 2005. The 96 pound car has three wheels, a drag coefficient of 0.12, a top speed of 30 MPH, and a modified 3 horsepower Honda 50cc four-stroke engine. It originally clocked in at 861 MPG and has been continuously tweaked to achieve the mileage we see today." It's not quite as street-worthy, though, as Volkswagen's 235 MPG One-Liter concept. Updated 20:01 GMT: The Cal Poly car's earlier incarnation achieved 861 MPG, not MPH; corrected above.
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Students Build 2752 MPG Hypermiling Vehicle

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  • by itomato (91092)

    Really?

    Pfft.

    Not even proofsniffed.

    • by MWoody (222806) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @03:34PM (#31212150)

      Yeah, I could make a car that went 861 MPH and got 2k+ MPG if I dropped it out of a plane, too.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      You misunderstand, they started with the Thrust SSC and then stripped it back a bit. Their next project will use the SR-71 as a starting design on the same principle.

    • Damn typos. And I was just about to order one too. The cops would have needed an F-16 on full afterburners to catch me!

  • It originally clocked in at 861 MPH and has been continuously tweaked to achieve the mileage we see today.

    Not only eco-friendly, it leaves some fighter aircraft in the dust! How do they prevent the sonic boom?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Mitchell314 (1576581)
      Drive in a vacuum, duh. Do it anyways so there's less air friction.
      • by Rei (128717)

        Reminds me of a hypermiling competition I read about a good while ago. The team that won totalled the competition... by cheating. ;) They built a wheeled plexiglass box (without a bottom), big enough for their car to be inside with extra room in all directions (esp. front and back). They then had a truck tow the box down the highway while they drove their car inside it at the same speed. No wind resistance! ;)

    • Re:861 MPH!!!!!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xquark (649804) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @03:51PM (#31212342) Homepage

      quote from the rtfa: "It originally clocked in at 861 MPG and has been continuously tweaked to achieve the mileage we see today."

  • So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JSBiff (87824) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @03:35PM (#31212158) Journal

    I'm not that impressed. I mean, while the figure mentioned seems impressive, how is this 'research' helpful? I mean, we already have *known* for a very long time that if you made a super small, lightweight vehicle with excellent aerodynamics, very low top-speed, and very low torque/accelleration, you can get much more mileage than the typical car. But, nobody wants a vehicle like that. People want vehicles very much like what they already have. . . enough mass around them to provide protections in an accident, enough space and power to haul 4 - 8 people plus cargo/luggage, and decent speed and accelleration - I think most of us have had driving experiences where we really needed to accellerate *right now* in order to avoid getting run over by a truck or bus or whatever.

    I honestly think these 'toy car' concepts, while they might be great learning exercises for engineering students, aren't very impressive. I'd be much more impressed by the 80-100 MPG 4-door sedan.

    • Pushing the limits of engine efficiency is certainly productive research...

    • by Sepodati (746220)

      I can see research like this being useful for autonomous individual-family cars that take the place of trains for cross country trips. You don't have to go that fast if you can continuously move and control traffic... Although faster than 30 mph would be good. Who knows if things like this will ever be built, though.

    • I think most of us have had driving experiences where we really needed to accellerate *right now* in order to avoid getting run over by a truck or bus or whatever

      Most of us don't pull out in front of a truck or bus in the first place.

      • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by zippthorne (748122) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @04:28PM (#31212686) Journal

        Of course, it's a lot easier to pull out in front of a truck when you're sitting in a recumbent position with your eyes no more than two and a half feet off the road.

        Which brings me to a pet peeve of mine: poorly thought out landscaping on street-corner properties. I know you think your ugly bush looks cool and all, and the tree next to it really hides the street sign you placed them around, but street signs are there for a reason, and blocking drivers' view of oncoming traffic is just plain mean. Stop doing it.

        • by Skater (41976)

          Which brings me to a pet peeve of mine: poorly thought out landscaping on street-corner properties. I know you think your ugly bush looks cool and all, and the tree next to it really hides the street sign you placed them around, but street signs are there for a reason, and blocking drivers' view of oncoming traffic is just plain mean. Stop doing it.

          I'll second that. I deal with that in several local parking lots. I don't know what these shopping centers are thinking - I guess they expect everyone will be driving SUVs.

          Lately we've had snow piles that effectively do the same thing.

        • A lot of cities have hotlines you can call to get those corners remedied since they're dangers to the public. Might be worth looking up.
    • by Colin Smith (2679) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @04:19PM (#31212608)

      I find it ironic that you can get a fairly standard HPV (http://www.recumbents.com/home/) that'll let you go faster than 30mph just using pedal power.

       

    • by Raptoer (984438)

      You're missing the point though, Cal Poly isn't a research university. This isn't research, and these student's didn't do it for some research grant and probably won't publish a paper about it or anything. They did it for the hell of it.

    • there's a few billion people who a) dont have cars and b) can't afford what i spend on gas.
      my car, btw, an 88 volvo, gets up to 2800 mpg. Up to.

    • Re:So what? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Rei (128717) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @11:05PM (#31215558) Homepage

      Current vehicles aren't anywhere near fully optimized, mass-wise or aerodynamics-wised. They're still largely built out of steel (composites can be as much as nearly an order of magnitude better in terms of passenger protection per unit mass -- plus, they can't pin you in). We *still* don't generally shroud the tires (and many cars have overly large wheel wells to boot). Most cars have a sharp kink between the windshield and the hood, as well as around the A-pillars. The hood is too long and the rear end too short. There's not *nearly* enough rear taper. We do all sorts of un-aerodynamic ridiculous grill styling, when most of the air for the engine of a modern car comes from underneath anyway. Most cars still don't have aero belly pans. Many include stupid things like fake (or even worse, real) spoilers. Most cars still use *way* overweight wiring harnesses, rather than an aircraft-style networked communication system. The rear wheels are spaced way too far apart (optimum is a single rear wheel). I could go on and on. Heck, only a small fraction of cars are even hybrids.

      With current tech, we could make a reasonably affordable 5-person sedan that gets ~70mpg, four-person that gets ~90, three-person that gets ~110, two-person side-by-side that gets ~130, and two-person tandem that gets ~150+, with all of the normal car comfort and safety features. But it'd mean having to first redo our production infrastructure for composites and throw our conventions of what cars *should* look like out the window.

    • by kimvette (919543)

      By the time you federalize it so it can reach at least 65mph (80mph is a more realistic requirement), add in the wiring and lighting equipment, build up the body (or fairings) to hold head and tail lamps at the required height levels, not to mention make it crashworthy, you'll have easily increased the weight to well over 2000 lbs, unless you go all composite like the Consulier GTP (now the Mosler MT900) [wikipedia.org].

  • Is the 96-pound figure without fuel? I wonder how much it weight fully loaded.

    • by iammani (1392285)
      Gasoline density is ~ 3.4 pounds/gallon. So assuming you want a full fuel range of 2752 Miles, you need a gallon of gas, which is 3.4 pounds. Now 100-pound figure doesnt seem any less impressive than 96 pounds, does it?

      Now if were to count humans, they unfortunately on average weight 180 pounds/person.
  • not getting it here (Score:3, Interesting)

    by khallow (566160) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @03:37PM (#31212198)

    Think claims of electric vehicles that get over 200 MPG are impressive?

    How about infinite miles per gallon? Electric cars don't consume gas.

    • by jonbryce (703250)

      Electricity is generated using something. Depends where you are, but in England it is quite often generated using gas.

      • by khallow (566160)

        Depends where you are, but in England it is quite often generated using gas.

        That doesn't matter. The electric car still doesn't consume gasoline or diesel. It consumes electricity. So it doesn't make sense to discuss the car's performance in terms of gas mileage.

    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      Yeah, we'll get right on that. I'm currently working on a prototype which burns hippies. There are some kinks to work out (such as burning hippies requiring an initial dousing of burning oil), but I'm sure that'll all be worked out once we get the venture capital and hit the banks.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday February 20, 2010 @03:39PM (#31212218) Homepage Journal

    Hypermiling is interesting, but totally useless. It's not even that interesting from an engineering standpoint because it's the answer to a question that nobody has asked: "How do I get amazing mileage in a way that is completely and totally infeasible to actually implement?" Now, if they were doing aeronautic hypermiling, that would be interesting, because the vehicles in question need not interfere with other vehicles. But hypermiling techniques involve acceleration and coasting, and every vehicle would need its own road to take advantage of them without screwing up everyone else's mileage and decreasing everyone's safety. Even typical hybrid drivers create a road hazard by paying too much attention to their MPG readout; not due to their inattention to the road, but because they are slowing down excessively while going up hills, causing drivers behind them to have to leave their powerband and downshift to a less-efficient gear ratio to maintain it. Every time I see a Prius I pass it at the earliest opportunity so as not to be stuck behind it and have to suffer their inconsideration, often consuming additional fuel in the process. A hybrid might get better mileage, but as they are typically driven, they cause worse mileage; and they provably consume more energy over the course of their lifetime than a comparable vehicle with a small diesel engine and no batteries which gets the same or even superior mileage.

    • It makes no sense to drive a prius like that. The whole point of having a hybrid is that you can regenerate the energy usually lost in braking and driving inefficiently by putting the energy back into the batteries. The hybrid helps with higher efficiency on hills by allowing a constant speed which running the engine at optimum power by adding the extra power needed with the electric motor so the engine can run at its most efficient more of the time. Yes, you can get higher efficiency by driving differen

      • You're both correct. That's the problem. The drivers need to be taught - clearly some haven't been.

        • Well the other big factor to getting awesome gas mileage isnt just driving habits and technique. Aerodynamics play a large part that no one wants to accept in industry. Namely because cars with low CoD are ridiculous looking. If we wanna get easy mileage bumps aero is the way to go for now. Just gotta get it past the marketing departments.
          • http://www.aptera.com/ [aptera.com]

            I'd snap one of these up in a shot, if they ever become available and affordable.

            Delays, delays, delays!

            • delays or vapor? It's not coming out. The company failed I believe. My friend had put cash down to reserve one and they refunded him recently.
          • by Eskarel (565631)

            It's not really a marketing department issue. The marketing departments might be blocking them, but they're blocking them because they won't sell.

            Cars which are incredibly aerodynamic are so at the expense of other more important factors. They are generally impractical because they don't have enough seating, the seating is uncomfortable, they have little to no storage space, and at least in the current road systems, they are ridiculously unsafe. Essentially you end up with a gasoline powered bicycle with al

            • Yea everything you propose there is expensive and takes huge legislation movements. Shaping a car to be more aerodynamic isn't that hard. Just most aero designs are butt ugly. I've seen a guy slap on some body parts on a honda civic bringing the CoD down to 0.17 which got him like 65-70 mpg. Thats a huge gain for little effort. The internals were all stock. The major parts to getting it that way are closed up from air dam, wheel skirts and a 'boat-tail' end. It doesn't have to look like an airplane the way
      • by kimvette (919543)

        But, achieving higher average mileage doesn't raise the Prius driver's smug levels as much as peak mileage does. :)

        Seriously though I hate that too. I've driven my Saab (it's a 2.0t, not an Aero) conservatively (read: not hypermiling, just keeping the boost gauge at the halfway point or lower) and achieved 43mpg driving from Cape Cod (Bourne) to Cambridge, which is about a 65 mile drive. I've achieved full tank averages of 36mpg, and I deal with quite a bit of city traffic. My typical full-tank average is a

    • Maybe if the hypermiling could occur on a train track it could have a use...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bzipitidoo (647217)

      Troll!

      There's plenty more to hypermiling than driving technique. Aerodynamics, weight reduction, use of lightweight oils, making sure tires aren't underinflated, and keeping the engined tuned and clean. Quite a few of those things increase safety as well as fuel economy.

      You speak as if hypermiling is totally selfish. Some of the techniques are rude and dangerous-- drafting leaps to mind. But many driving techniques can save everyone gas. Coasting up to a red light definitely saves everyone gas, bot

  • by mukund (163654) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @03:48PM (#31212306) Homepage

    Not to steal their thunder (and this mpg result is old news), but according to their own blog [blogspot.com], Universite Laval got 2757 mpg in that race. And Mater Dei High School hold the record with 2,843.4 mpg [materdeiwildcats.com].

  • Prior art (Score:5, Funny)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @03:55PM (#31212378) Homepage Journal
    This car [wikipedia.org] used to do even more mpg, but wasnt very fast.
  • The gas would evaporate from the tank faster than that! I think someone needs to check their figures. Unit conversion FTW??

  • You know. Most of those things look really, REALLY uncool. This one, with a bit of work, comes close to a batmobile. Not bad at all.

    Of course, let’s see how it does as a 4-person+dog car going at 80 mph in a crash situation.
    It’s always much easier do do all this at low speeds and loads.
    My guess: 2752 mpg / 5 seats / (80 mph / 30 mph) = 206.4 mpg. ^^

    • It's always easier to do at low speeds because F_drag = c*A*v^2 Cut the speed in half, and you cut the {work/mile} by three quarters. Of course, at some point you have to start cutting switchbacks and tunnels everywhere because your (properly sized for the desired speed) power plant can't climb moderate inclines, but you'd be really efficient!

    • by mosb1000 (710161)

      Drag increases with the square of speed, so your equation should be:

      2752 mpg / 5 seats / (80 mph / 30 mph) * (80 mph / 30 mph) = 77.4 mpg

    • I obviously need to get out more, but that low-angle front view looks like a woman reclining with her knees spread apart.

  • Can it haul my giant bass boat?

    Bubba

  • Mail carriers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by carbuck (1728596)
    This might be useful for mail carriers, meter maids, farm vehicles, etc. Might also be useful for someone exploring a remote area where a gas pump might not be readily available
  • Or is it so optimized that they use an eye dropper to feed this thing seven drops of gasoline and extrapolate how far it would have traveled if it really had a gallon of fuel? I mean if you have to stop every mile to refuel, they might easily build a rubber band powered vehicle that gives infinite miles per gallon.
  • city driving?

  • 3 horse power 50cc honda build with a top speed of about 30 MPH? That sounds like the engin they use on their scooters. I have 4 of them and they run for ever. Without any modifications or hypermileing they will get between 70 and 100 mpg.

  • Rather pointless (Score:4, Informative)

    by Solandri (704621) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @04:45PM (#31212862)
    MPG is backwards. It tells you how much further you can go on a single gallon, not how much less fuel it'll take to cover a fixed distance. In practical terms, the latter is much more relevant to how people drive. If you buy a car which gets twice the MPG, you do not suddenly start driving twice as far every day. Your miles driven each day will probably remain fixed, so fuel saved is based on the inverse of MPG.

    A consequence of this is that MPG exaggerates the benefit of highly fuel-efficient vehicles. 2752 MPG sounds like a lot. But switching from a 25 MPG vehicle to a 50 MPG vehicle saves you more gas than switching from a 50 MPG vehicle to a 2752 MPG vehicle. To cover a distance of 50 miles, the 25 MPG vehicle would consume 2 gallons. The 50 MPG vehicle would consume 1 gallon, for a savings of 1 gallon. The 2752 MPG vehicle would consume 0.018 gallons, for a savings of 0.982 gallons. This is less improvement than the switch from 25 MPG to 50 MPG. Because MPG is inverted, a 10 MPG improvement on a 25 MPG vehicle saves a lot more fuel than a 10 MPG improvement on a 2000 MPG vehicle.

    Consequently, the most important thing for reducing overall fuel consumption is to get people out of gas guzzlers and into more fuel efficient vehicles. Stuff like hypermiling vehicles getting >2000 MPG are interesting from an engineering and design standpoint, but they serve little practical use. Even if you could develop a real car which got 2000 MPG, getting a single SUV driver to switch to a Prius would save 3.5x as much fuel as getting a single Prius driver to switch to this new ultra-high MPG vehicle.

    This is why most of the rest of the world measures fuel efficiency in liters/100 km. It makes the amount of fuel your car will use for a typical drive pretty obvious, and makes it dirt simple to compare how much fuel you'll save switching to a different vehicle (just subtract the two numbers):
    SUV = 16 liters/100 km
    sedan = 9.4 liters/100 km
    Prius = 4.7 liters/100 km
    vehicle in article = 0.085 liters/100 km
    • by Dausha (546002)

      A consequence of this is that MPG exaggerates the benefit of highly fuel-efficient vehicles. 2752 MPG sounds like a lot. But switching from a 25 MPG vehicle to a 50 MPG vehicle saves you more gas than switching from a 50 MPG vehicle to a 2752 MPG vehicle. To cover a distance of 50 miles, the 25 MPG vehicle would consume 2 gallons. The 50 MPG vehicle would consume 1 gallon, for a savings of 1 gallon. The 2752 MPG vehicle would consume 0.018 gallons, for a savings of 0.982 gallons. This is less improvement th

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cortesoft (1150075)

      I am a bit confused by your argument. Your 'alternative' measure that you seem to think provides more information is the EXACT same measurement; it is simply the inverse of the ratio. You can simply put a 1 over your MPG if you would prefer to use gallons per mile. Also, your point about a 10 mpg improvement mattering more to a 25mpg vehicle than a 2000 mpg vehicle is merely pointing out that in RATIO measures (which both MPGs and your alternative 'liters per 100kms' are examples of) it is important to m

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by welcher (850511)

        The point is to use less fuel. The gallons per mile measure makes it clearer how much fuel will be saved for an average trip, or how much fuel will be saved by by getting the more efficient vehicle. The GP is obviously aware that the ratio is simply inverted but most people wouldn't recognize this.

        A similar situation exists with sunblock cream, where effectiveness is currently advertised as sun protection factor, or SPF. This is just the inverse of the amount of UV the gets through the cream - so SPF 50

        • Agreed. If you buy any car (even electric) you're still using energy, as that electric car is probably burning some coal in a plant far away. Want to save the planet? Two options: 1. stop living. 2. move into the backwoods and get off the grid.
    • by pclminion (145572)
      Wow. You've discovered... the reciprocal. Bravo.
    • by daver00 (1336845)

      I think you have the Prius figure a little off, all literature I've read, and accounts from people as well, put it fairly solidy in the 7L/100k range (in realistic terms). To put that into perspective, my 1992 carburettor powered honda civic gets about 7.5L/100k at its peak efficiency.

  • I think I like the 861 MPH better... "If my calculations are correct, when this baby gets up to 861 MPH, you're going to see some serious stuff" ... CRASH! KABOOM!

  • by techmuse (160085) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @05:16PM (#31213130)

    In 1992, UC Davis students working under Professor Andy Frank achieved 3313 mpg with its SideFX and Shamu. The school later developed some of the first hybrid car technology, among other things.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=OeMDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA10&lpg=PA10&dq=uc+davis+side+fx&source=bl&ots=yNnL_bcwLY&sig=hhexAD2-JnRF_cp2YeJRXn20AVI&hl=en&ei=DVCAS-GrI4zgswOL7-SHBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CB8Q6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=uc%20davis%20side%20fx&f=false [google.com]

  • I'd rather bicycle. (Score:4, Informative)

    by nrlightfoot (607666) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @05:43PM (#31213382) Homepage
    These things average about 15 mph and top out at 30. I have better performance than that on my bike (at least when I'm in shape) I would be willing to bet I could very easily out accelerate this thing on my bike as well.
    • by evilviper (135110)

      These things average about 15 mph and top out at 30. I have better performance than that on my bike (at least when I'm in shape) I would be willing to bet I could very easily out accelerate this thing on my bike as well.

      This has a 3HP engine. Humans manage about 0.25HP on a bike, with the exceptions of world-class athletes, who can maybe double that. So...

      * Stick this engine on a bike, and it'll accelerate 12X faster, and have 12X the top speed you could possibly manage.

      * You're going to be spending a LO

  • shell marathon (Score:2, Informative)

    by ekasperc (1070946)
    Shell's got quite an impressive challenge running for many years, achieving way more than 2750 mpg on a regular basis : http://www.shell.com/home/content/ecomarathon/about/current_records/ [shell.com]
  • Using imperial units on the headline? Well, ok.

    But NOT using it on the news? Oh fuck.

    I still have not the faintest idea of what they've accomplished.

  • Shell Eco marathon (Score:2, Informative)

    by barath_s (609997)
    The shell Eco Marathon is pertinent and answers many of the questions I had when reading this

    . http://www.shell.com/home/content/ecomarathon/about/current_records/ [shell.com] [shell.com] http://www-static.shell.com/static/deu/downloads/aboutshell/media/news/shell_eco_marathon_press_kit_2009.pdf [shell.com] [shell.com]

    a) The CalPoly is an IC Prototype (futuristic) entry; as some noted, the record is held by the Microjoule, St Joseph La Joliverie, 3,771km/l (8870mpg per wolfram Alpha) b) There are categories for Urban Course

  • Something I kept talking about years ago finally made it onto slashdot.

    BUT YOU FOOLS ARE FOCUSING ON THE WRONG CAR.

    Considering we've got THREE THOUSAND MPG a few years ago from another group - a bunch of HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS.

    Try again, slashdot. Next time you rip off one of my leads, from YEARS AGO, at least focus on the prior cars that BEAT THE SHIT out of this current car.

  • And then they sent it to NTSHA crash testing.

    Services for the crash test dummies will be held Friday. It will be closed casket.

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