The Ideas Factory: Move over, Prius owners, there's a new hybrid in town

 

It was the car that carried Enzo Ferrari's name and pushed the limits of road-car performance and technology, but only 400 Ferrari Enzos were ever built and production ended in 2004.

Now, though, Ferrari is thinking about updating the 651 horsepower beast with an even more outrageously fast version. And, perhaps most shockingly for red basebaseball-capped petrol-head purists, it could be a hybrid. Yes, a Prius-inspired green machine.

It was once unthinkable that the most famous name in carbon-burning speed would develop a petrol-electric hybrid (Aston Martin and other luxury car manufactures maintain the right technology doesn't exist yet), but the next Enzo, reportedly under development, may be powered by a hybrid V-12 power-train capable of over 900 horsepower, which was unveiled on Monday at the Beijing auto show.

Using some clever electronic devices – originally developed for its Formula One team – a lithium-ion battery, and two electric motors, it will work with the Prancing Horse's traditional V12 engine to shift power between two clutches to provide a torrent of acceleration and an estimated 0-60mph time well below three seconds.

The system known rather dryly as the "HY-KERS 2012" has undergone two years of testing to reduce its size and weight, making it the fastest Ferrai on sale. Emissions will be reduced – though not to anywhere near Prius levels – but there's no word on price yet. Presumably eco-savvy playboys should start saving now.

Jamie Merrill

Google learns to drive – but on its own terms

Google's long-anticipated effort at online storage was launched this week, and joins others such as Microsoft's SkyDrive and Dropbox on the cloud platform. It is offering 5GB of storage for free, which can be expanded for a monthly cost. For those Google fanatics who already use Gmail, Google+ and use an Android phone, Google Drive is set to integrate nicely. However, for those who already use a different cloud service, there is little incentive to switch. Closer inspection of the T&Cs reveals that submitting content to Google gives it the right to view and share it with third parties.

While these are standard terms for companies such as Facebook and Pinterest, it is unusual for a product such as Google Drive, which is pitched at businesses. Clarification of this will be needed – Dropbox saw to this last year – before many will trust Google with their work.

Heather Clark

A pigeon's-eye view of the city of London

Everyone – and especially Nelly Furtado – sometimes wishes they could be like a bird taking off and flapping around the city with a freedom unavailable to us non-feathered idiots.

And, apart from those hardy fools who take on Red Bull's various flying challenges, hope is about as close as we're likely to get. But a simulation from George Mackerron, a researcher at University College London's Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, has created something that is about as close to flying over a city – in this case London – as we're likely to get.

Mackerron combined Google Earth with Microsoft's Xbox Kinect reader to allow wannabe Trafalgar Square pigeons the chance to waft themselves through the skies of London. The New Scientist filmed part of the simulation at its presentation at a UCL conference on smart cities and you can see it on their website here: ind.pn/beapigeon.

The simulator also takes in data from another project from the conference, called CityDashboard, to feed in live levels of things like air pollution and the height of the River Thames.

Will Dean

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