Hybrid cars pioneered the use of regenerative braking, in which a car's engine recovers some of the kinetic energy lost during braking and then converts it into electricity that is stored in the vehicle's battery. (For tech dummies like me, that essentially means that braking helps recharge the car.) Now, some smart kids at MIT have come up with another innovative way to use everyday driving occurences to help power a car. Their incident of choice? Hitting potholes. As TechFragments reports:
A team of students at MIT have invented a shock absorber that harnesses energy from small bumps in the road, generating electricity while it smooths the ride more effectively than conventional shocks. ... In their testing so far, the students found that in a 6-shock heavy truck, each shock absorber could generate up to an average of 1 kW on a standard road.
Reportedly, the absorber could help improve a vehicle's fuel efficiency by as much as 10 percent. And it seems the military has come calling about using the new technology. See here for a full report from MIT. Talk about overcoming bumps in the road.