Minuteman

Alabama Section

Innovations: No Longer Just About the Automobile

Innovations: No Longer Just About the Automobile

By Peter Vanderveer -
Minuteman Section Technical Editor

Environmental Science:
Mercedes has many projects going all the time. For instance a sailing ship has been commissioned by Mercedes-Benz which has been designed to travel the seven seas as an environmental research facility. Over one hundred feet long the Pangaea (Greek for “all earth”) is a big boat with accommodations for a crew of twenty and a sixteen seat conference room.

This is huge for a sailboat. Its creation celebrates technology working within nature to help solve environmental issues. This four year long project is going to visit all seven continents as well as the North and South Poles! Good luck and thank you Mercedes-Benz for your sponsorship.

Light Bulbs
Of all things – light bulbs – those little bulbs all around the car, which time and again burnout and need to be replaced have finally become the focus for improvement! I did not know this, but Paul Lucier over at Mercedes-Benz in Natick told me bulbs sold at Mercedes-Benz dealers have been redesigned and will now keep going for a really long time. This was action taken as the result of a survey asking about annoying ‘little things' that could please be addressed.

Grand Prix Racing
I decided to go up to Montréal for the Gran-Prix early this June (2008) and man was it hot up there! Formula-One Gran-Prix is motor racing at the highest level in the world. Mercedes has the lead in drivers' championship points with less than half the season over. Ferrari and then BMW are right behind and all three have aggressive performance enhancing programs put into practice on a race-by-race basis. No one is running away with the lead. To everyone's surprise the BMW team took first and second place this year at the famous Canadian track. At half distance, the two first place cars – a Ferrari and a Mercedes collided in the pits (both were beyond repair) and left the door open for the emotional win of Polish driver Robert Kubica to take his first win and give the BMW team its first win so far this year. To see and feel this Formula-One car's speed around the track will make the hair stand up on more than just your neck. The engines rev to nearly twenty thousand rpm's, zero to 60 comes in about two seconds.

Furthermore slowing from one hundred and ninety miles an hour down to forty m.p.h. for the famous hairpin at the Canadian track is also a spectacle to see and feel. Montreal is the ‘local' race as the next closest race is in England! Two weeks before Montreal, the Gran-Prix is held in Monaco and the race two weeks after is the French Gran-Prix at Magny-Cours, about two and a half hours south of Paris. So if you are in the neighborhood…?!!

Peter Vanderveer