Dr. Iain Corness

Wednesday, 24 September 2014 17:18

Print your own car and drive away

3D printing has only become a possibility in the last few years, though the adoption of this technology is spreading.  The list now includes 3D printable human tissue, to a 3D printed life-size castle, and now a 3D printed car.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014 17:16

Can Asian Motor sport be cohesive?

Motor sport in Asia has a reasonably long and stable background, but nothing like the history of the sport in Europe or America, even though China did host the Peking to Paris event in 1907.  Asian motor sports have developed in the individual countries independently, and these separate countries have introduced their own local rules, which have more or less worked, but only allows competition at the national level.

There are still those people around who believe the average Chinese adult rides a bicycle.  Sorry, the average Chinese adult now drives a motor car, pays purchase tax to buy the car and is paying a 10 percent levy on the prevalue-added-tax price of a car.  A car that sells for 100,000 yuan including the value-added tax, would cost the buyer an extra 8,547 yuan (almost 45,000 baht).

Wednesday, 24 September 2014 17:12

What did we learn from the Singapore Grand prix?

To be perfectly frank, it was a processional and artificially stage-managed race.  Yes, it was processional as the much vaunted two DRS zones are too short to allow the following car to pass, Singapore being another Bernie inspired round the houses (hotels) race.  If you saw a DRS pass, please let me know, as I didn’t see one.

Stage-managed?  Tell me why it took six laps behind the safety car to remove some shards of a front wing from the track.  My maid could have done it in three laps with her whisk broom and dust pan.  However, it did bunch the cars up again to make it look exciting.  Did Bernie have a word in someone’s ear again?

We also learned that despite the advances in electronics, they certainly are not bullet proof.  With all the millions in the Mercedes piggy bank, they sent championship leader Nico Rosberg out with a car that wasn’t even running properly in the pit garage!  Rosberg stating that, “The problems with my steering wheel began in the garage even before the race and it was a difficult moment when I couldn’t pull away from the grid - the car didn’t get out of neutral.  When I left the pit-lane, I was only able to change gear - there was no radio, no DRS and reduced Hybrid power.  We were hoping that the systems might come back to life, like the radio did, and that we could change the situation.  But after we changed the wheel another time, we had to retire the car.”  Note that Mercedes was “hoping that the systems might come back to life.”  Sorry, only Bernie (or God) can do that.  On second thoughts, perhaps Bernie is God?

So to the race, or rather the procession.  An interesting start where Alonso (almost) pulled the rabbit from the hat on the first corner, steaming through to second place by having all four wheels off the racing surface.  Four wheels?  You could have driven an 18 wheeler through there on Fernando’s line.  He did give one place back (Vettel), and should have also surrendered to Ricciardo, but no five second stop-go penalty, although others did get penalized - but then again they weren’t battling at the sharp end.  Did Bernie have a word with the stewards about this?

Hamilton deserved his win.  He was never challenged and towards the final stages could pull away from second placed Vettel (Red Bull) and third placed Ricciardo (Sick Bull) and fourth placed Alonso (Ferrari) at two to three seconds a lap!

Unreliability was the name of the game in Singapore with Rosberg, then Ricciardo where Christian Horner later disclosed that the power surges were caused by a battery that wouldn’t discharge.  A new rabbit needed?  Jenson Button (McLaren) stopped through failure of the car’s electrical power box.  Electrics also sidelined Gutierrez’ Sauber, and poor old Kamui Kobayashi (Caterham) caught fire on the way to the grid.

The next meeting is next week in Japan.  Let us hope that the top echelon of motor sport can find reliability and provide good racing.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014 17:11

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned that two men met in 1899 and they made plans to form a company and build their own “Moto-cycle”.  Who were they and what was the product called?  It was the Indian motorcycle and the two man were George Hendee and Oscar Hedstrom.

So to this week.  Disappearing headlights were known before WWII but were not seen again till 1966.  On what car?

For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Wednesday, 24 September 2014 15:52

AmCham plays a magnificent mine host

The American Chamber of Commerce was the organizing host for the Joint Chambers networking evening last Friday held at the Hilton in their Drift Bar area, with Executive Director Judy Benn being omnipresent.  With David Nardone, President of Hemaraj Land and Development organizing the food, the chamber members were treated to one of the best finger food displays at any Joint Chambers networking.  Not only carvery items, but even Peking Duck rolls and other live cooking stations with BBQ seafood and even ribs on offer.  Well done, David, and the Hilton, under the watchful eye of Rudolf Troestler, the Hilton GM.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014 15:29

Ebola - the WHO overview

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been sending out bulletins on the spread of the Ebola virus, and there is no doubting that we have an epidemic on our hands.

The WHO gives the total number of probable, confirmed and suspected cases in the current outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa as 4366, with 2218 deaths, as at 7 September 2014. Countries affected are Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone

There has been no indication of any down-turn in the epidemic in the three countries that have widespread and intense transmission (Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone), with a surge in new cases in Liberia a particular cause for concern. Transmission is continuing in urban areas, with the surge in Liberia being driven primarily by a sharp increase in the number of cases reported in the capital, Monrovia.


In line with the past two weeks, there continues to be a high number of confirmed new cases, with just over 100 cases newly reported in the 7 days up to the end of 7 September.

Most new cases have been reported in Macenta. Persistent transmission is ongoing in Gueckedou, which borders Macenta and was the origin of the outbreak, and in areas in and around the capital Conakry. In contrast with Liberia and Sierra Leone, several districts have not reported any cases, or have no newly reported cases in epidemiological week 36.


Liberia has reported the most cases and deaths of any affected country in the outbreak, and reported a marked increase in cases during epidemiological week 36. The past week has seen almost 400 confirmed and probable cases reported - almost double the number of newly reported cases in the preceding week. The sharp increase has mainly been driven by a surge in cases in the capital, Monrovia. There is also evidence of substantial underreporting of cases and deaths and this is being investigated. There continues to be a high number of new cases in Lofa county, which borders the Guinean districts of Macenta and Gueckedou. An increase in new cases has also been reported in districts throughout the country, including Bong, Bomi, Grand Bassa, Margibi and Nimba.

Sierra Leone

The incidence of EVD in Sierra Leone remains very high, with almost 200 new cases reported in the past week. Transmission remains high in the capital, Freetown, and is stable and high in Kailahun and Kenema. There has been an increase in the number of new cases reported in the districts of Bo, Bombali, and Port Loko.

Responses in countries with widespread and intense transmission: Increases in demand for Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC) beds and referral unit places are continuing to outstrip capacity in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. In Guinea, additional support is needed in Macenta (N’Zerekoré prefecture) and Forcariah (Kindia prefecture). In Liberia, the need for new treatment and referral centers is critical in the capital, Monrovia, in Nimba, and Margibi counties. In Sierra Leone there remains a need for additional support in the capital, Freetown and in Port Loko.

WHO continues to mobilize partners in response to these needs.

Infections among healthcare workers continue to be a concern during this outbreak. To date, 301 healthcare workers have developed the disease, almost half of whom have died. Lead national staff for Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), along with additional IPC staff for key ETCs, have now been deployed in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Coordination is underway to initiate global training plans for IPC in affected and countries and those neighboring affected countries.

The above is from the WHO report, which is quite detailed, showing the virus is not on the wane at this stage.

However, when we look at world statistics we must not forget that Malaria is one of the most severe public health problems worldwide. It is a leading cause of death and disease in many developing countries. According to the World Health Organization’s World Malaria 2013 Report, 3.4 billion people (half the world’s population) live in areas at risk of malaria transmission, and in 2012, malaria caused an estimated 207 million clinical episodes, and 627,000 deaths. An estimated 91 percent of deaths in 2010 were in the African Region.

Eff Wun under lights. This Grand Prix is lauded as pure excitement under lights, but for me, and countless enthusiasts, the excitement is not there. Narrow street circuits like Monaco lead to processions, and I don’t care how many singing budgies they have as ‘entertainment’. I follow motor racing - not music concerts. If I want musical entertainment, I can go to a concert anywhere, any time.

Thursday, 18 September 2014 10:48

Toyota reveals raft of safety features

As the motorcar heads towards autonomous operation, the manufacturers also have to integrate safety systems for this next step. Many of these systems are already in existence, but currently too expensive for general fitment.

The latest Toyota advanced systems were revealed at the Toyota Advanced Safety Seminar. These include:

Automated Highway Driving Assist to keep a car within its highway lane, at a safe distance from surrounding traffic.

New, improved laser obstacle detection system.

New 3D head-up display.

Laser detection systems that can track objects on the road, day and night; 3D information displays that transform the way traffic information is delivered to drivers; and an advanced driving support system that will be on the road within the next few years; these were the highlights of the innovation program revealed at the fourth Toyota Annual Advanced Safety Seminar in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

AHDA in action.AHDA in action.

The seminar provided an early insight into the company’s latest safety research and development work and the progress it is making in securing safer mobility for all in the future.

“Toyota’s vision is of a world without traffic fatalities, and these advanced connected and automated vehicle technologies have the potential to revolutionize automotive safety,” said Seigo Kuzumaki, Toyota’s Chief Safety Technology Officer. Items discussed at the seminar included:

Automated Highway Driving Assist (AHDA): First revealed last year in Japan, Toyota’s AHDA system is designed work with the driver to achieve safe car control. The latest version of the system, unveiled at the seminar and to be shown at the ITS World Congress, has been programmed according to real-world traffic conditions in the USA and can operate at speeds up to 90 kph.

AHDA integrates three core technologies: Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Trace Control and Predictive and Interactive Human-Machine Interface (HMI). These support the driver by keeping the vehicle to its lane and a safe distance from others on the road, all while travelling at cruising speeds. The Predictive and Interactive HMI promotes driver engagement, warning when the system is going to disengage and monitoring the driver’s level of attention on the road ahead.

Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC): This system allows drivers to maintain speed and make more comfortable progress while reducing accident risk by keeping a safe distance from the vehicle ahead. It uses a 77 GHz millimeter-wave radar to detect and monitor vehicles in front of the Toyota and maintain specific speeds and distances.

Lane Trace Control (LTC): Lane Trace Control helps the driver keep the car safely within its lane, using signals relayed by a front-mounted camera and a millimeter-wave radar. The sensors detect lane markings on the road surface and vehicle ahead. The system calculates the right driving path, automatically adjusting the vehicle’s steering angle so the Toyota keeps within its lane, within an appropriate margin from surrounding vehicles.

Predictive and Interactive HMI: While the improved automation provided by the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Lane Trace Control contribute to making driving safer and more comfortable, it remains essential to keep the driver - the most important element in the driving process - focused. For this reason, AHDA includes a predictive and interactive HMI to help there is a smooth, safe transition as the car moves from automated and manual driving.

The system gives the driver advance warning when only limited automated system support can be expected. It makes its predictions on the basis of the lay-out/geometry of the road ahead and historical sensor performance. These predictions are intelligently generated, so they apply specifically to the traffic lane in which the AHDA vehicle is travelling.

Monitoring technologies are used to check the driver’s level of attention on the road ahead. An infra-red camera monitors the driver’s face and a touch sensor locates where the driver’s hands are on the steering wheel. The system warns the driver if it detects their hands are off the wheel, or their eyes are not on the road ahead for a long period.

Spad Lidar - single photon avalanche diode/light detection and ranging: Toyota demonstrated its SPAD LIDAR environment mapping and recognition system for the first time at its safety seminar, a technology that marks important progress towards making automated driving a reality. As well as performance improvements, the system is smaller than the previous bulky units which had to be mounted on the roof, and can be installed inside the car.

The high-resolution LIDAR (laser radar) combines the functions of a millimeter-wave radar and stereo cameras. It can detect the shape and position of obstacles ahead and its active sensors mean it can operate in daylight and at night.

3D head-up display: Toyota’s innovative 3D head-up display reflects the company’s philosophy that advanced safety technology should work as a teammate with the driver, and breaks new ground in interface design. The system projects critical information onto the windscreen, such as vehicle status, traffic conditions and road signs, rendering it in 3D with no need for the driver to wear special glasses or use other accessories.

It uses completely new 3D viewing technology and is designed to display information at specific points on the road.

Thursday, 18 September 2014 10:46

New MX-5 (Miata) for 2015

The Mazda MX-5 (Miata in the US) has been a success story for Mazda. Since the first model in 1989, it has become the best selling sports car ever. Having had an early model with the pop-up headlights, I too have been a confirmed fan of the model, despite it getting the middle-aged spread with subsequent versions.

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