Lithium-ion batteries and aircraft have some bad blood: Boeing’s 787 Dreamliners were grounded three years ago because of battery fires, the FAA banned all lithium batteries in hold luggage , and now an innocent iPhone has caused a fire on an Alaska Air flight.
According to a KOMO news report, a girl on a spring break flight from Washington State to Hawaii had her iPhone 6 spontaneously combust mid-air:
“All of the sudden there was like 8-inch flames coming out of my phone, and I flipped it off onto the ground and it got under someone’s seat, and the flames were just getting higher and a bunch of people stood up.”
Under heavy loads or physical abuse, lithium-ion batteries have been known to explode, releasing the considerable stored energy inside in the form of heat, rather than electricity. It’s the reason hoverboards-which contain cheap batteries that get stood on all day-catch fire (and have been banned by all major airlines), and the reason lithium-ion batteries are supposed to be carry-on only.
The airlines aren’t likely to ban all portable electronics any time soon, but it’s still a slightly scary reminder of how much potential energy we’re all carrying round in our pockets. And, why airport security is really one big joke.
The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)today announced that automatic emergency braking would be standard on all vehicles by 2022. And thanks to Volvo, that feature will be responsive to moose and other large animals.
The automatic emergency braking systems already available on many vehicles, including Volvo’s, use various sensors to spot obstacles and potential hazards on the road ahead. That data coupled with the speed of the vehicle get crunched by a car’s onboard safety system to determine if it needs to take over and slam on the brakes in order to avoid a collision.
After the NHTSA and IIHS’ announcement, Volvo took the opportunity to promote a new feature available on its 2017 S90 and XC90 called Large Animal Detection with Automatic Braking that’s similar to the safety systems already in use on many of its vehicles.
In addition to keeping an eye out for slowing vehicles, pedestrians, and other obstacles on the road, the new detection system watches for large animals entering the road up ahead, and will automatically stop the car before an especially messy collision occurs.
Given a moose can stand almost seven-feet tall at its shoulders, it seems doubtful a driver would miss one approaching. But at the same time, there are countless videos online of drivers hitting moose, deer, elks, caribou, and countless other animals you’d assume they spot well in advance. So having an extra set of electronic eyes always watching the road ahead is always a good idea, even if the Large Animal Detection system doesn’t quite work as pictured in Volvo’s marketing materials.
If you like the look of a beefy timekeeper on your wrist, but without all the weight, Breitling’s new Avenger Hurricane is the company’s first with a housing made from plastic. Or, more specifically, a new lightweight proprietary polymer it calls Breitlight.
Strengthened with composite fibers for extra rigidity, the new Breitlight material is six times lighter than steel, and even three times lighter than Titanium. But besides being considerably lighter on the wrist, thanks to the new material the Breitling Avenger Hurricane is also anti-magnetic, less likely to irritate sensitive skin, won’t corrode, and is incredibly hard to scratch or mar.
On the technical side, the Breitling Avenger Hurricane features an in-house 24-hour movement, basic chronograph functionality, and a 70 hour power reserve which means you only have to wind it every three days. It’s far from the most advanced mechanical watch you can buy, which begs the question, why is Breitling still asking $8,390 for it?
Traditional analog watches boasting genuine Swiss craftsmanship have always come with expensive price tags, partly justified by the huge number of man-hours that go into the production and hand-assembly of the timepieces’s complicated inner workings.
These aren’t mass produced on factory assembly lines like a cheap digital Casio. A lot of skill and care goes into the creation of a genuine Swiss watch to ensure it’s as accurate as its analog mechanisms allow. High-end sports cars are manufactured the same way, but it’s easier to justify spending $100,00+ on a car when you see it tearing down a highway at insane speeds. It’s a lot less obvious why a watch is worth thousands of dollars when the complex internal mechanisms humming along at 28,800 vibrations per second are hidden away inside.
But the often shocking price tags are also the result of well-funded collectors who are looking to step out wearing something innovative, and something exclusive. There’s no denying that Breitling is using its new Breitlight material as a selling point for the Avenger Hurricane, since other timepieces in its collection with similar functionality, and metal housings, actually sell for less money.
Watches are still first and foremost a fashion accessory, and ultimately fans of Breitling obviously have no qualms with dropping thousands of dollars on the cachet associated with the company’s creations. But if you’re looking for a genuine Swiss watch with innovative guts that won’t drain your savings account, don’t forget that Swatch already sells one for just $150.