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GM's new Smart Alloys move without motorization


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GM Achieves Technology Breakthrough with Smart Materials
Smart Materials will Enable Vehicle Features to Move without Motors
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WARREN, Mich. - General Motors scientists demonstrated breakthrough developments in smart materials technology at a media briefing today at GM's Research and Development Center.

Shape memory alloys and polymers are examples of types of smart materials that GM is developing for use in its products. Smart materials can change their shape, strength, and/or stiffness when heat, stress, a magnetic field or electrical voltage are introduced. Shape memory alloys, and polymers in particular, "remember" their original shape and can return to it, opening new possibilities for many movable vehicle features.

GM is targeting to integrate smart materials technology into its vehicles by 2010.

"Smart materials will change the look and feel of our cars and trucks," said Larry Burns, GM vice president of Research & Development and Strategic Planning. "With these new materials, functionality can be 'programmed in' to enable innovative designs, improved efficiency, and new and improved features that will make our vehicles more exciting to own and operate than the automobiles of the past."

Actuators and sensors made from these materials have the potential to improve vehicle performance and fuel economy, and enable new comfort and convenience features. These actuators and sensors can provide significant benefits when they are used to replace conventional motorized or hydraulic devices by reducing vehicle mass, component size and complexity and improving design flexibility, functionality and reliability.

A few example applications include:

  • An adaptive interior grab handle that automatically presents itself from a folded position to make for an easier, more intuitive entry into the vehicle,
  • Active vehicle surfaces, such as air dams and louvers that adjust to govern airflow, improving aerodynamics and performance, and
  • Hood, door latch, and glove box releases for more convenient access.

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According to Alan Taub, GM executive director of Research & Development, smart materials are building on previous materials advances GM has introduced over the last several years.

"These new smart materials follow a long list of material applications we are already using," said Alan Taub. "A few examples include novel aluminum forming processes that provide enhanced body panels and lightweighting, polymer nanocomposites that provide superior mechanical properties at lower cost, and magnetorheological fluids for improved chassis systems.

"The properties inherent in shape memory alloys and polymers have the potential to be game-changers in the automotive advanced materials field, eventually leading to vehicle subsystems that can self-heal in the event of damage, or that can be designed to change color or appearance."

Smart materials are being used in other industries in various applications including medical devices, cell phone antennas, toys and sporting goods.

GM is collaborating with HRL Laboratories and the University of Michigan in developing potential applications. To date, GM has more than 175 U.S. patents issued or pending based on research work and application development in the field of smart materials.
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Thats pretty cool. I think they should use this technology to equip every gm vehicle with a giant fist that pops out of the side body panel, that way when a toyota pulls next to you...flip the switch and he just kinda disappears........the whole design could resemble something like this? :pokeowned:

Ok so thats wishful thinking, but still, sounds like this cold have a ton of applications, and I can see it replacing all sorts of things if I understand how it works right. Get rid of window motors that wear out, and if it could save weight and eventually money if the materials come down that would be great too.

It would be awesome to have air dams and spoilers that changed angles and size based on the needs of the car, could improve handling and aerodynamics when needed. All sorts of applications, will be exciting what they come up with

Edited by zimmy01
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The US military has been using this stuff for over 5 decades. It

was reverse-enginered from the UFO that crashed at Roswell. :P

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Wow, it's amazing that GM has the money and resources to spend on this fancy technology yet 2008 Grand Prix/LaCrosse W-bodies are still being made with 3800's and 4 speed automatics! :rolleyes:

Not really.

The Ws are on ther way out and not worth investing in anymore.

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'Active vehicle surfaces, such as air dams and louvers that adjust to govern airflow, improving aerodynamics and performance'

You must have missed this line in the artivle. And they just gave a few examples.

This is a very promising technology.

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'Active vehicle surfaces, such as air dams and louvers that adjust to govern airflow, improving aerodynamics and performance'

You must have missed this line in the artivle. And they just gave a few examples.

This is a very promising technology.

I didn't miss it, hence the sarcasm.

"An adaptive interior grab handle that automatically presents itself from a folded position to make for an easier, more intuitive entry into the vehicle"

I can't wait to make more intuitive entries into my car! :lol:

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Wow, more convenient grab handles and door latches. Way to go GM!

/end sarcasm

i agree. maybe GM can use the materials to make something that can fall up stairs and not break itself . that would be a much more apt use of R&D dollars. :)

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Wow, it's amazing that GM has the money and resources to spend on this fancy technology yet 2008 Grand Prix/LaCrosse W-bodies are still being made with 3800's and 4 speed automatics! :rolleyes:

bash the 3.8/4t65 if you want, but my 3.6/6t70 fail to measure up. <_<

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