A New Leaf

leaf

I realized a long-held dream over Independence Day weekend. I declared my own independence from Big Oil by purchasing an all-electric 2013 Nissan Leaf. My wife snapped this picture of the kids with our new car. After driving the car for a little less than a week, I think this photo will be one for the archives. It will be their very first with an electric car, a type of vehicle I am convinced will be the decisive norm rather than the boast-worthy oddity it is today. The experience is transformative, and it will catch on like breathing does for newborns.

Imagine: no more oil changes. No more gas station visits. An “engine” with only one moving part. No transmission to break down and cause lag. Maximum torque at low rpm. And almost no noise. All for a $300-per-month lease? No way. I’m only left to wonder why I waited so long.

Of course, it’s only been a few days, and my opinion may moderate as the novelty wears off. For now, though, I marvel at this ultra-aerodynamic and surprisingly roomy electric car that I’ll drive back and forth from work each day, emitting absolutely nothing into the air as I cruise immune to the incomprehensible vagaries of gas station pricing.

There’s a lot of computer science in these vehicles. Computer algorithms and computerized control make its 105-mile range possible, helping it squeeze every last watt out of the battery. Computer hardware and software systems monitor driving habits to figure out when it’s necessary to engage the brakes ever so slightly to produce static electricity charge to feed the batteries. There’s even a funky display of a tree that grows as you improve the energy efficiency of your trip. A little cheesy? I suppose. But it’s the kind of perception that increases the allure of this car, and it was created by someone who, like our students, possess some killer coding skills.

Only one thing could make this better: Lewis could install some charging stations on campus. That’s my next project.

The oil companies still have 99.999% of you held captive. Not me. And probably never again.

 

About Ray Klump

Professor and chair of Mathematics and Computer Science Director, Master of Science in Information Security Lewis University http://online.lewisu.edu/ms-information-security.asp, http://online.lewisu.edu/resource/engineering-technology/articles.asp, http://cs.lewisu.edu. You can find him on Google+.

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