Reducing Vehicle Drag by Actively Promoting Laminar Airflow
~James Dunn

One of the ways to provide Green technologies is to provide means for saving and conserving energy. One of the reasons why we don’t have cars that get over 100 miles per gallon is that the air must be pushed out of the way as a vehicle moves. The heat produced translates to more fuel used. Turbulent or Burbling air flow tosses air violently about causing the creation of significant heat. Laminar air flow minimizes the disturbance of air so that friction is minimized.

Explanation of Laminar and Burbling (turbulent) Air Flow

Cars typically have areas of drag that are necessary for the operation of a vehicle, like the radiator. Some air must flow through the radiator to cool the engine. This results in air flow burbling that contributes to total vehicle drag.

Vehicles also have body part transitions that cause burbling of air passing across the transitions.

Potentially in these areas, the control of air flow can help to provide consistent laminar air flow over the body of the vehicle. Something like blowing into a flute, as your finger covers the hole you hear a change in pitch quality. The back pressure can help control the boundary layer and contribute to lower drag of the vehicle under dynamically changing environmental conditions.

Areas where this boundary layer might be beneficially controlled would be the front bumper/grill to hood interface, hood/windshield interface, wheel wells, roof to back window interface, back window to trunk lid interface, trunk lid to bumper interface.

Instead of a front grille, NASA vents (V shaped vent port that allows air to pass through without significantly disturbing laminar air flow) would pull air in to cool the radiator; thereby establishing laminar air flow across the body. For instance, a diesel truck might have the radiator lay back at 45 degrees and have NASA vents to promote laminar air flow and protect the radiator from debris. The windshield could lay back and flow smoothly over and around the cab.

The transition between each surface element could monitor air pressure and/or other physical variable and operate a vent or air pump/jets to promote a stable layer of air density for a given set of environmental conditions (humidity, temp, air pressure, …). At aerodynamic surface transitions the pressure is greater, or less than, the average surface pressure and the resulting airflow could provide spin of a turbine to produce a very small amount of electrical power; or running of the turbine could cause aerodynamic qualities to allow the vehicle to slip through the air with less power. A computer would determine the mode of most efficient energy usage.

Care must be taken to ensure the vehicle body does not become a flying wing and loft the vehicle off of the roadway. Ground effect can be used in conjunction with low pressure zones to help suck the vehicle down onto the roadway.

Dynamic skirting could conceivably maintain a fixed distance from the roadway to create a large low-pressure zone under the vehicle to increase vehicle stability; controllably sucking the vehicle to the roadway.

The complexity of such a system would require an aerodynamics engineer to determine the configuration of the body, NASA vents, and turbine units needed to promote laminar flow. NASA vents could be used where air intake is needed. Surface bumps could be used to break up large burble vortex into small burble so that the air can transition more quickly back into laminar air flow. Small holes with an air supply in the surface can lead transitions to virtually shape aerodynamic surfaces to promote smooth transitions.

The turbine/laminar flow configuration could reduce vehicle total drag and potentially produce a small amount of power in burble areas of air flow.

However, if the extra weight of vectoring vents and ducts is excessive, the additional weight and impeding structures under the hood, would contribute to making this solution impractical. Costly, cumbersome, and power consuming instead of power saving.

However, a vehicle traveling 150 mph straight and level that has 95% of its’ surface in laminar air flow can travel at the same speed with considerably less horsepower as a vehicle with 50% of its’ surface in laminar air flow; even if the vehicle weighs an extra 200 pounds. This is proven in aircraft like the Rutan Varieze.

Does 150 mph seem fast for driving? With the future of autopilot for automobiles this is a realistic expectation. How fast could you safely drive if you could anticipate every obstacle long before arriving at the obstacle? This is the future of autopilot technology. Because the location of everything is known and controlled, the cruising speeds of vehicles can substantially be increased.

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Building 12V Electric Pre-Heaters from Trash – Alternative Fuel Systems
~James Dunn

Disclaimer:

Do NOT attempt to act upon or disseminate any portion of the following unless you read the full content of the Disclaimer linked herein: Click Here

Building 12V Electric Pre-Heaters from Trash – Alternative Fuel Systems

Safety Precautions (Partial List): The materials selected and procedures cited by the individual experimenter may contain asbestos, dangerous gases, explosive conditions, electric shock potentials, fire hazards, and other health hazards and hazards to equipment and structures not foreseen, …

Preface

Often, people experimenting with various ideas need a custom heat source for producing a desired effect. Standard heaters are often not commercially available in the configuration or voltages that are desireable for a particular setup. For instance, 12 VDC tubing heaters to pre-heat alternative fuels before combustion are expensive; when you can find them. Custom heaters can cost thousands of dollars for initial manufacturing setup. To reduce the initial research costs, custom heaters can be built from trash.

These heaters are especially useful for heating tubing, diesel fuel lines, etc. Again, assume worst case scenarios when engineering your heater.

Where to get your experimental parts

A heater can be easily built from old electric stove burners; even the ones no longer working. They cost about $30 a piece to purchase new, but you can go to any apartment complex and ask their maintenance supervisor to save you a couple of “stove eyes” or “oven burner elements” when they have to be replaced. Even the ones “burned out” can be made into useful heaters. Many maintenance people will do this happily if you tell them why you need the old burners. I find the oven elements are easier to work with.

If they have a stove they are throwing out, take the Oven Temperature Controller. The mechanical type has a bulb and capillary tube that is especially useful for controlling the temperature of tubing and is adjustable from 200F up to 550F.

Construction of heater element

Because the outside tube is isolated from the actual heating element, you can clamp these heaters directly to tubing or whatever else you are wanting to heat.

The elements are composed of a thin nichrome wire passing through a electrically insulative material,and clad with a stainless steel tube. The white electrically insulative material may be asbestos, though I do not know for sure. Do not let any of the dust get in your ears, eyes, nose, mouth, or other orifice and wash off any on your skin immediately.

As such, the outer body is in no way part of the electric circuit, it is only a durable surface through which heat is conducted. Unless of course through your experimentation you accidentally let the nichrome wire touch the stainless steel tube, then you have a potential shock and or equipment damage hazard.

The construction of these heating elements allows them to be bent “relatively” easily. Care should be taken to avoid kinking the tube when bending. Wrapping the tube around a pipe and pulling while bending helps. If it kinks, don’t use it. The kink may cause the electrified nichrome wire to touch the outer stainless steel casing and provide the potential for electric shock and/or equipment damage.

Working with heater elements

Check to see what voltage the heater operates at; most are 220 VAC in the United States.

When you hook up a working burner directly to 220 VAC, it will glow bright red. I’m guessing somewhere around 1000 Farenheit or hotter. If you need something that hot, then simply bend the element into the shape you need making large sweeping bends. Keep the electric terminal ends out into an area that will be no hotter than a few hundred degrees or your terminal ends will not survive long.

If you need a heater at a lower voltage and for safety you want to limit the maximum temperature achieved by the heater, then you can either simply hook heater elements in series with spade connectors to make them effectively longer (heat fuel line from the fuel tank all the way to the fuel injection pump).

If you want a 12 VDC heater that gets up to 250F when the vehicle is idling for instance, you can shorten the heating element and put spade connectors on them to make them operate at temperatures up to the normal operating temperatures for those heaters.

Special Note for those wanting to use this to pre-heat fuel lines. The temperature of a heater on a fuel line will vary significantly based upon the speed the vehicle is running. You might consider mounting the Oven Temperature Controller I mentioned earlier in a weather proof box near the battery to provide active temperature control of your fuel line.

No NOT use aluminum spade terminals; they will become loose and cause the related loose connection problems.

If you need lower temperatures or precise control over temperature, you can use a standard temperature controller. It will modulate the electric power to maintain a specific temperature range near the controllers temperature probe.

You can also use 12 VDC, 24 VDC, or 120 VAC instead of 220 VAC to run the heating elements at lower temperatures in conjunction with a temperature controller.

Or, if you do not want to purchase a temperature controller (>$100), then you can experimentally shorten or lengthen the heating element to get the steady state temperature you want to maintain in the system you are working on.

If you opt for a temperature controller, you can use a hotter heater. This will also provide a margin for operation accuracy in diverse operating situations (ambient temperature drift, differing flow rates, differing compounds, …). There are small Temperature Cutout buttons you can purchase from heating and supply vendors that can provide rough control at a low cost ($15) or if you choose to provided added safety margin as a cutout and/or alarm conditions.

Remember, when designing, remember to anticipate the worst case conditions. For an alternative fuel vehicle it might be: Heater on, car not running, very hot summer day in the direct sunlight, no wind, low humidity. Will the fuel in the fuel line that is being preheated get hot enough to cause problems? Heater on, car running down the road just after starting at 80 mph, freezing cold winter day, 25 mph head wind, relatively high humidity. Will the fuel in the fuel line that is being preheated get hot enough to run the vehicle as expected?

Realize, that in a perfectly insulated box, a heating element of any wattage will heat up and destroy itself. Running a current through an electric wire without any avenue for heat loss will melt the nichrome wire! Heaters rely upon ambient losses to protect themselves. If you are building a project and the heater is in a box without a temperature controller, put a damper on your experimental system to control the temperature.

You can lengthen or shorten the heating element by trial and error to get your desired heating power. Longer heater or lower voltage, lower temperature. If you need more heating capacity at lower temperatures, hook heating elements in parallel and make sure you have good contact with that which you are heating (tubing, heat exchanger, fins, …); a small air gap reduces heat conduction significantly.

Procedure for putting a spade connector on a shortened stove heating element

  • Put on a respirator suitable for working with asbestos, rubber gloves, and eye protection.
  • You simply cut the outer tubing with a tubing cutter.
    • Only cut the minimum necessary to sever the tubing.
    • Do not disturb the nichrome wire in the center.
  • Use a pair of side cutters (dikes) to cut through the nichrome wire and sever the tubing into two parts.
  • Mount the heater in a vise so the tube sticks straight up.
    • Use a hacksaw and cut a one inch slot in the center between the nichrome wire and the edge of the tubing; one inch along the length of the tubing from the end.
    • Fold the smaller flap of tubing back slightly so you can work.
    • Clean out the asbestos so that the spade connector crimp will have room in the tubing after it is crimped onto the nichrome wire.
  • Use a pair of needle nose pliars to pull the end of the nichrome wire out about 1/2 inch.
    • Take a bare zinc clad steel spade connector (no plastic insulation) and crimp it onto the nichrome wire.
  • Slide the neck of the spade connector gently back into the tube.
    • Position the spade connector so it wants to sit in position without having to hold it.
  • Mix up a small amount of High Temperature epoxy.
    • You can buy 500F 5-minute Epoxy from Wal-Mart for about $4
  • Coat the inside of the tube with epoxy.
  • Lay the spade connector within the epoxy so the spade connector des not touch the metal tube
    • axially so the nichrome wire lays straight
    • DO NOT put epoxy directly on the Nichrome wire.
      • this may cause a hot spot and shorten heater life
      • this may cause heating of the epoxy in excess of 500F
  • Coat all around the spade connector and fold back the tubing tab you had folded out earlier.
  • Let harden for about an hour.
  • Repeat this process for the other end.
  • Use an ohm meter to be sure the terminals and nichrome wire are isolated from the metal tubing before energizing.

Make sure the metal tubing near the epoxy does not exceed 400F or this will soften the 500 F epoxy and allow the spade connector to touch the tubing; causing a potential for short circuits, equipment damage, and electrocution. The temperature inside will be hotter than the outside.

Reverse Engineering to Specify Commercial Heaters

You can reverse engineer your heater to estimate the commercial heater specifications for your final product.

Resistance = Volts / Amps = Rref in heater formulas

Watts = Volts * Amps

Don’t forget to add a small margin for degradation over the life of the heater.

What to do with Custom Heaters

  • 12Vdc coffee cup warmer
  • 12 Vdc diesel fuel tank heater
  • 12 Vdc oil pan heater (cold climates)
  • 12 Vdc submersible cup warmer

Unmanned Miltary Supply Vehicle
~James Dunn

A military market that Ford may capitalize upon.

Future Combat Systems (FCS) is a US Government directive for the development of a unified military. All unmanned vehicles shall communicate via a standardized message package; described by the Joint Architecture for Unmanned Systems (JAUS).

http://www.jauswg.org

An immediate need is to have relatively low-cost unmanned vehicles running at high speeds delivering supplies in a wartime environment.

Ford currently has the separate technologies to provide this military and commercial need. This is more of a systems engineering effort rather than research.

The Lexus has shown that steering, braking, and throttle can be coordinated in a commercial product for auto-parking. Add to this a road sensor that can reliably position the vehicle within inches in all-weather conditions, and a supply vehicle costing not much more than a tractor trailer becomes a reality.

Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) transponders cost about $0.20 each, can be embedded in nails/screw heads, have a range of 100 to 600 feet, are the size of a grain of rice, are robust, and can hold about 2kBytes of data. The range and direction of the RFID can be controlled by shielding provided by the nail/screw body.

For geolocation, RFID are better than GPS, 38 bytes of data can uniquely mark every road in the US every 3 feet, one in every lane, assuming that ALL US roads are 4 lane highways. RFID are not affected by any known weather condition and can be encoded for security.

By creating a JAUS compatible interface in two(2) of the basic Ford trucks, 1-ton & tractor trailer, using RFID embedded in roadways with a transponder in each vehicle, vehicles can precisely move supplies from location to location unmanned. Oversight can be accomplished either by a manned lead vehicle, aerial observation, manned check points, or any number of other scenarios.

A simple vehicle could largely automate the insertion and data collection related to the RFID nail/screws. A dGPS would record the exact position, an on-board computer would log the position, roadway type, distance to the curb/ditch, overhead obstacles, and any other information desired for that location.

Because the vehicles are unmanned, this reduces the military target value for the trucks. Because the trucks are low-cost, they can simply be pushed off the road until they can be extracted.

The secondary benefit is that after the conflict ceases, the embedded RFID still exist and Ford can supply that country with automobiles equipped with auto-pilot capabilities. The roadways can be precisely driven upon even in sand storms, flooding, and snow storms.

This also allows for wringing out the bugs related to auto-pilot performance of a variety of vehicles with an exceptionally low risk in liabilities.

Automobile Situational Awareness System
~James Dunn

Create a system of displays which can be selected and retrofit by car and vehicle owners for a wide variety of applications. Examples include:

(1) A wide but low height message display on the dashboard of cars, trucks, and heavy equipment that displays information related to the vehicle health status, operational characteristics, and emergency awareness.

(2) A LED light bar to place over the instrument panel to bring the attention of the driver to out of spec conditions like low fuel.

(3) A flat panel display mounted over the rear view mirror that has wide angle camera view of what is behind the vehicle, or the back seat, inside the trailer, …

(4) A flat panel touch display with a tether for the back seat for passengers to interface with on-board utilities like: navigation, vehicle health, games, communications via a common cell phone, vehicle to vehicle video conferencing, ….

(5) Weatherproof flat panel displays for the bumper or car doors that provide people outside the vehicle with information, like: advertising, your seat belt is dragging, I’m turning right, …

(6) A narrow display for the outside mirrors that provides proximity information for the entire vehicle. Part of the collision avoidance system perhaps.

The displays could be configurable to supercede operational data like speed, time, or music station, with out of spec information, like: oil pressure too low, engine temp too high, emergency vehicle in the area, owner being paged because of unauthorized entry, unauthorized access to back of trailer, … Or even for commercial use like the next address for a delivery with inputs from a navigation system telling the driver to slow down, get back on track, break is over, police have been notified of unauthorized entry, …

Wireless hookup to a computer box under the seat using blue-tooth and wifi is practical. The cost of the computer is negligible (<$100>, but the software development needs considerable customizing.

1) The computer could have inputs from the car computer via the car computer data access port.

2) Any bluetooth or wifi device currently on the market could be incorporated.

3) Current navigations systems could be interfaced to utilize Heads Up Displays

4) Police could provide a signal to automatically shutdown the engine if the vehicle is being chased.

5) The GPS location and ALL vehicle resources can be transmitted to the police or individual of choice during an emergency situation (on-board cameras and microphones, GPS, vehicle parameters like speed, outside temperature, whatever the computer has access to).

The multi-function computer would glue all bluetooth and wifi devices together to allow for greater situational awareness for the driver. And the diverse displays to select from would allow a variety of uses in almost every vehicle and piece of equipment.

This would also allow many other products to spawn seamlessly with advancing technology, like: collision avoidance systems, driver under the influence detection, impending mechanical problem detection systems, community emergency response systems, vehicle to vehicle communications while traveling, shortwave operator displays, even games to amuse the kids, …

Eliminate Blinding Headlights

November 27, 2008

Eliminate Blinding Headlights
~James Dunn

Polarize the lens of automobile headlights in the vertical plane. Polarize automobile windshields in the horizontal plane. The light from the headlights will tend to lose polarization as rays hit objects like the roadways. The light directly from the headlights will mostly be reduced and the running lights will be the major source of lighted markers. So the headlights can have much higher outputs without hurting the eyes of drivers and passengers of on-coming traffic.

More of the area is illuminated which gives the drivers more time to react and clear objects potentially unseen because of headlight glare. Motorcycle face shields would have similar polarization as windshields; promoting the wearing of safety helmets.

Failsafe at the Gas Station

November 27, 2008

Failsafe at the Gas Station
~James Dunn

Currently aircraft and industrial equipment sometimes are filled with the wrong fuel and it may have catastrophic consequences. Also, in the near future, many different fuel products may be available for different engines. Biodesiel, vegetable oil, ethanol, hydrogen peroxide, … Having different shapes and sizes for each different fuel type and grade is a bad idea, it would be very expensive and unnecessarily restrictive.

I propose retrofitting a small RFID chip (<$0.10) onto a fuel resistant adhesive package (1/2 the size of a dime or smaller) that could be purchased at any Auto Parts store and have the customer place the RFID near the fuel inlet of all their fuel tanks. Then require all fuel pumps to be retrofited with an RF transciever at the nozzle so that the correct fuel is automatically selected, ore when the wrong fuel is selected for a vehicle that for manual pumps an alarm sounds, and for digital pumps the pump shuts off and gives an alarm message, which can be over-ridden by the customer and automatically documented in the pump history. This provides a mechanism where one fuel nozzle can be used for a number of different fuels.

http://www.smartcardalliance.org/alliance_activities/rfid_FAQ.cfm

The cost and how to implement:

This way it is up to the customer to retrofit their vehicles and equipment, but it will be inexpensive enough for them to do so easily. Gas stations might even supply the correct RFID for free with a fill up.

The main expense will be at the gas pumps. The gas companies could be mandated to provide a larger margin of profit for each gallon sold (currently $0.08 / gallon) by fuel stations. For example: A station purchases 1000 gallons of gas from the oil company. They are given $0.18 / gallon sold instead of the current $0.08 / gallon. That’s $100 extra per tank purchased. The oil company tracks how many gas pumps the station has and how much fuel is sold to that station. Let’s say each pump costs $60 to retrofit (reasonable considering the large scale of purchases and modifications). Then a station with six(6) pumps only has to refill their tanks 4 times to cover their costs and for the oil company to revert to their $0.08 / gallon payment to the station.

This would also allow for future custom fuels to take advantage of the same system, like: fuel oil, aircraft fuels, kerosene, hydrogen peroxide, vegetable oil, bio-desiel, ethanol, … If you have a vehicle that can not take anything except a specific type or grade of fuel, you can lock all other fuels out by having the right chip mounted near your fuel intake. Or as mentioned earlier, automatically select the right fuel for your vehicle.

“Fuel Pump” refers to the gas station fuel nozzle for filling your car, truck, airplane, …

Currently, a diesel fuel fill port is larger than the gasoline fuel nozzle. What occassionally happens is someone will add gas to diesel car like a Mercedes. A well meaning teenager perhaps. What can happen is that gas is much more volitile and the diesel engine will run much faster for the same amount of fuel injected, so the engine RPM ramps up very high, and in some cases damages the engine. This is worse for larger diesel engines.

As for aircraft fuel, there are numerous private aircraft pilots with a similar problem. A passenger with good intent wants to help and makes ready the fuel hose for the pilot standing on the ladder. Unfortunately, only the color of the fuel and what is posted on the pump will tip off the pilot if they are paying attention. If not, after a short flight, the engine could run rough and fail; or after a prolonged flight the engine could seize up.

Smart Snowplow

November 27, 2008

Smart Snowplow
~James Dunn

Get snow truck blades to dam the end of the plow for the short distances across driveways. Perhaps a hydraulic actuated plate that works off a camera. A green reflector sticking up indicates the beginning of a driveway, a red reflector sticking up indicates the other side of the driveway.

This way the amount of work that the residents and businesses of a city has to expend is much reduced. Even if it doesn’t deflect all of the snow from the end of driveways, some is much better than none.

My idea is to attach a small deflector that temporarily restricts the “flow” of snow off the end of a blade and then lays back after passing a driveway.

As for wear, there shouldn’t be any more wear than there would be for any blade since it becomes part of the blade. And if that part does wear, it is much smaller than the entire blade and could be replaced at a lower cost.

At first I thought about GPS. But then, snow storms could easily block the signals. For cities where the snow doesn’t get over a couple of feet deep, the reflector idea would probably work.

But in areas where they can get four feet of snow at a time, you are right, I wonder if a city would consider allowing a peg to be driven into the road with a RFID in it. That way the snow plows can run over it, the sensor transmits a signal signifying the beginning of a driveway a certain distance away. That way a truck running on a highway at 65 mph will time the deflection differently than a truck running 15 mph on an urban side street.

The RFID could also transmit the address at that driveway for emergency vehicles to use.

Regarding how big would the deflector need to be. That is a difficult question because snow is sticky and packs, while slush flows freely. A 12″ deflector on the end of a relatively large plow, let’s say 36″ in height, would probably stop the flow of snow to the point of stopping the truck. Being the equivalent of making the blade flat and packing the snow in front. Guessing, from personal experience working with farm tractor and blade to clear snow in Michigan.

While varying degrees of slush would only dam up slightly and flow around the end. The percentage of slush to snow would largely influence how much flow or packing was involved.

A good option would be to make the deflector changeable from the operator by changing the angle to loft slush or to dam the snow and slush until past an intersection or driveway.

RFID allowing for Hands-Free Vehicle Operation
~James Dunn

Since RFID are cheap. Why couldn’t they be put in roadways at precise locations every few feet to help vehicles navigate hands-free?

The RFID could have a reference ID that could be compared to a national database that would give the vehicle information about the surrounding area like construction, general road condition, up-coming turnouts, accident history, historical traffic for that time of day, …

This would allow vehicles to precisely know where they are when the GPS goes on the blink due to clouds, interferrence, or building obstructions; like downtown New York.

At various points along the route data could be uplinked into the cars navigation system through an RFID device; like at stop lights. But along a route there might not be sufficient time at a velocity to hand-shake much information while passing over an RFID. I was thinking more that a separate broad area radio kept cars updated with area information while the RFID was used for geo-location.

The Earth has a total land surface area of 230712707483000000 in^2, so theoretically, if an RFID were put every square inch on the Earth, that would be 1100110011101001111111110000101110101100010101110011000000 in binary or 58 bits of data. An RFID can easily be programmed to transpond 58 unique bits of data. Overkill, I know. I’m just trying to show that an RFID can practically be used for geolocation on roadways. In actuality there are currently less than 6.2 million miles of roadways in the US. Assuming they are all 4 lane highways(worst case), that would mean at most 4 rows of RFID every 3 feet; that’s 43,648,000,000 RFID or 101000101001100111111010000000000000 in binary, 36 unique bits of data.

Magnets have been embedded in roadways to allow vehicles to navigate hands-free. I wonder what the range is for a magnet embedded in the roadway? Do you remember reading anything about the detection range or how it was implemented? Would off-road vehicles and commercial trucks have to extend a boom to reliably detect the magnets? And magnets don’t have any information encoded so there would be high likelihood that the vehicle would get lost if outside telemetry were interrupted; GPS.

In addition to geo-location the markers could also be coded to

* prevent vehicles from entering secure areas,
* automatically charging your credit card for tollways,
* identifying empty parking spaces in parking lots and structures,
* tracking stolen vehicles,
* accurately marking roadway painted lines,
* provide surveyors with quick references for laying out land,
* provide detailed information related to continental creep,
* provide indicators for impending earthquake magnitudes and locations,
* provide handicapped with similar technologies for navigating the sidewalks and crosswalks of cities,
* provide emergency vehicles with precise lane clearance information for route planning to an emergency,
* …

Vehicle Bluetooth/Wi-Fi

November 27, 2008

Vehicle Bluetooth/Wi-Fi
~James Dunn

All vehicles should have a Bluetooth connection hooked into ALL of their vehicles electronics. The benefits:

* laptops could access the engine diagnostics
* cell phone users could use the built-in speakers and microphone
* audio & video player compatibility
* updating the on-board nav system
* providing user ringtone type utilities like: ringtones for opening doors, patterns for cycling turn signals, ambieance control of interior lighting, updating the vehicle performance chip, governing maximum speed based upon user, providing route restrictions for certain drivers, automatic sync with the home computer, automatic sync with trucking industry bills of lading, …

All of the vehicle sensor data could be sent to a laptop. This would allow:
vehicle maintenance to be tracked precisely

useage profiles generated for each driver

utilities for providing drivers with cues related to fuel savings

automated vehicle useage information for tax purposes

automatically tracking vehicle costs related to individual customers

Allowing drivers to download extensive and selectable playlists into their vehicles audio system.

Providing manufacturers with the avenue for new products like: designer external lighting, flexible data displays (advertising in the back or on doors), free form decorative LCD panels for hoods and trunk lids, adjustable intensity tinting for windows, directable cameras, headlights that track steering movements, security systems which include the towed trailer, security system for strapped on bicycles and adjacent motorcycles, child monitoring systems, vehicle to vehicle communications, sharing info between vehicles, collision avoidance systems, garage door openers, automatically setting home security, documenting vehicle parameters for improper police stops, providing a local wi-fi-like connection for all the passengers, allowing for a large hard drive to be accessed in the car (nav data, music, downloaded websites, peer to peer data), …

This allows for the cell phone with bluetooth to distribute the internet connection to all of the passengers. A Bluetooth to Wi-Fi adapter could distribute the connection even further. Multiple Bluetooth headphones could each be tuned to different music archives. Passengers could email or text message collaboratively.

Cell phones that are bluetooth compatible download functions for monitoring and controlling everthing related to your vehicle. In addition it provides on-board systems with access to the internet. Online mechanics could be contacted to diagnose problems with your vehicle.

Security would obviously need to be addressed. Hardwired 128 bit encryption is an obvious way of securing the systems.

There are many obvious applications that would be useful for military applications. Soldiers could have situational awareness of their surroundings improved greatly by vehicle mounted instrumentation. Soldiers could aim and fire vehicle mounted weapons and/or maneuver the vehicle while behind the vehicle or in a ditch.