Death-trap vehicles and energy efficiency contribute to this month’s significant engineering statistics.
Independent tests on five of the most popular small cars in India resulted in all five receiving zero-star adult protection ratings for a frontal impact at 64km/h. Global NCAP tested entry-level versions of the Suzuki-Maruti Alto 800 (India’s best-selling car), Tata Nano, Ford Figo, Hyundai i10 and Volkswagen Polo, none of which were fitted with airbags as standard. All five put occupants at high risk of life-threatening injuries in a crash, and only the Figo and Polo had structures stable enough for airbags to be effective even if fitted. Volkswagen is now withdrawing the non-airbag version of the Polo from sale in India.
Five million people a year are expected to use a new online voter registration system in Britain that goes live this year. It is being introduced at the same time as a switch to individual registration, replacing forms covering an entire household. Voters provide their date of birth and National Insurance number, to minimise errors and fraud. The existing register is being matched against databases such as that held by the Department for Work and Pensions, so most records will be migrated automatically.
Electronics and maintenance products distributor RS Components has cut its energy consumption across 10 UK sites by almost 40 per cent, by fitting warehouses with energy management systems from Vickers Electronics, which model where heaters can be turned on or off to ensure optimum heating across each warehouse while stock is delivered and different doors are open. The money saved has been invested in other energy-saving products such as intelligent lighting systems.
Alcatel-Lucent has released new data suggesting that more than 11.6 million mobile devices are infected by malware at any one time, potentially putting owners at risk of having their personal information stolen, or receiving high bills resulting from pirated data usage. The report from the company’s Kindsight subsidiary found that mobile malware infections increased 20 per cent in 2013, with 4G LTE devices deemed those most likely to be infected. Android devices accounted for 60 per cent of the total.
A single stretch of water could produce enough tidal energy to power about half of Scotland, according to a new study. The Pentland Firth, between mainland Scotland and Orkney, is a candidate to house marine power projects because of its tidal currents, which are among the fastest in the British Isles. Engineers at the Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh say that 1.9GW is a realistic target, allowing for the efficiency of tidal turbines and the need to minimise effects on sea life and shipping.
Professor Stuart Wenham of the University of New South Wales in Australia has won the IET’s £300,000 AF Harvey Prize for engineering research. His research team has discovered a mechanism for controlling the charge state of hydrogen atoms to correct deficiencies in silicon, enabling high- performance solar cells to be made from cheaper materials. Major manufacturers are interested in commercialising the process. Professor Wenham will deliver his prize lecture in London on 21 May.