LA Auto Show – the best bits (Part II)

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The Lego Porsche 911

Many of us have grown up playing with Lego (or leaving it strewn around the ground for unsuspecting parents to tread on during the night), building vaguely recognisable cars or planes or houses from the millions of little pieces. We built an aeroplane that actually resembled an aeroplane at the age of seven, and still regard it as the pinnacle of our engineering lives.

Some people take it a little further, however, and Lego enthusiasts have previously built full working objects like a sniper rifle, loom machine and…a Porsche 911. Built from around 3500 parts, the Lego 911 features working AWD, not to mention a working double clutch transmission. It even has a working handbrake and retractable spoiler — this thing appears more mechanically advanced than our own vehicles.

Check out the rest of his channel for more. (Warning: you may lose an entire evening here).

Wiping out the wiper

Though this may be more of an issue for those unfortunates with OCD, the fact is that windscreen wipers can often be as much of a nightmare as a lifesaver.

Pictured: Not fun
Pictured: Not fun

Most of us will have been there at one stage of another; watching the wipers drag themselves across your windscreen with an unmerciful screech, dragging dirt, dust and flies backwards and forwards across the glass, leaving those horrid streaks in their wake. While this complaint may sound a little pedantic, I assure you, it certainly isn’t.

Thankfully, there may be a solution, courtesy of Science, and super car maker, McLaren. The auto company are currently working on top secret plans to make the windscreen wiper a thing of the past. Believed to be an adaptation of technology currently used on fighter jets (is there any other way of making something seem awesome?), the design will apparently involve the creation of what could and will henceforth be described as a force field of sorts (it gets better and better) across your windscreen using high frequency sound waves, meaning things like water and insects won’t be able to rest on the glass.

McLaren have said that the new system could make cars more fuel efficient with weight savings, though any savings could probably be doubled if you drove in shorts rather than trousers, or left your bag at home. The new ‘force field’ system could be in place on McLaren vehicles by 2015, and it’s thought that if it’s successful, mainstream adoption will quickly follow, as if any car design updates involving the mere mention of force fields could be anything other than hugely successful.

Now, onto the final frontier of automotive design perfection – covering that blasted gap between the visor and the rear view mirror.

Sshh! It can hear you…

Google execs in one of the first driverless cars, before it whisked them away to their doom.

As 2013 winds down and 2014 is about to swing in, let’s stop for a minute, and think about all of the cool things previous generations were sure we would have by this time. Underground cities and flying cars sadly have not yet come to pass, while hoverboards remain just out of reach. (Damn Science, what the hell have you been doing? Get your act together.)

One thing which probably didn’t crop up in people’s imagination at the time is cars that can hear. No, that’s not the beginning of an undeniably frightening horror flick, but just another part of Google’s technological dreams, dreams which will be completely pointless if they aren’t aiming towards the construction of a death star of some description.

Anyway, apparently this is now a thing. Or, at least, it will be, and not that far away in time. The tech giant, which has already designed a working driverless car, with thousands of miles of testing under its belt, has also been developing the technology that would allow a vehicle to listen to its surroundings and take control if necessary. So, for example, if you’re flying towards a beeping pedestrian crossing, and you’re intent on going through, make sure you have your seatbelt on, because one way or another the car will stop, and you could find yourself sitting on the tarmac with bits of your windshield in your face.

The idea is to complement the cameras which sit on top of Google’s driverless cars – a camera is all well and good when it can see what’s coming, but on the off chance that right around the bend is a dingling railway crossing, and you’re too busy singing along to Miley Cyrus (it could happen), this mightn’t be the worst idea.

Hats off to Google, in any case. I, for one, look forward to Skynet’s inevitable takeover when it has been insulted by a frustrated driver for the last time.