Secret agent 007 might have a licence to kill. But James Bond is not exempt from American road laws and had to take a course on “responsible safe driving” in order to be allowed on the road.
Or rather the actor who plays the current Bond - Craig, Daniel Craig, - had to. Having moved to Manhattan, New York with his wife fellow actor Rachel Weisz, Craig has had to take driving lessons to obtain a legal motorist’s licence.
All foreigners, regardless of if they are top secret agents on their Majesty’s Service or mere mortals, must pass a road safety test, a pre-licencing driving-safety course and take a written exam.
Richard Fernandez, of the Professional Driving School of the Americas, where Craig took the five-hour lesson, said: “No one is exempt, regardless of who you are.”
Which, given how quickly the DBS Aston Martin which crashed on its way to the Skyfall film set in 2008 became as flat as a pancake (remarkably leaving its driver with minor injuries), is rather a good thing.
But Craig is not exempt from all the special treatment being 007 gets you: “His assistant requested a special class for Daniel by himself. No other students were there. He was such a nice dude, so friendly,'' driving instructor Fernandez told the New York Post.
Luckily, the 44-year-old passed his test on Staten Island with flying colours and lives to drive another day.
Buck did the Niners' game at Candlestick Park and then riding one of those motorized cable cars with a police escort was taken over to AT&T Park to do the Giants-Cardinals opener. Considering the traffic jams that ensue a 49er's game, I was surprised he was able to make it to AT&T on time. I guess the police escort did the trick.
I used to really hate Joe Buck. His broadcasting comes off as smarmy to me. But the San Francisco teams were so bad that I hardly noticed him yesterday. I used to really hate Sam Rosen because he'd get orgasmic every time Brett Favre stepped on the field, but that's over now. I haven't heard Rosen much lately.
In any case, he put in a full day so I can't hate on Buck. Some other day.
A small start-up called Lit Motors is developing the C-1 in a three-story warehouse here. Its 33-year-old chief executive, Daniel Kim, was tinkering with a biodiesel sport utility vehicle eight years ago when a 500-pound chassis nearly crushed him. The experience got him thinking about cutting out the bulk.
“Most people drive alone,” Mr. Kim said in an interview. “Why not cut the car in half? I was really into bicycles at that time and I thought, Why can’t we have the efficiency of a bicycle and motorcycle but all the amenities of a car?”
Fully electric vehicles have long been a dream among environmentalists and technologists, but companies have found it hard to deliver affordable and practical vehicles to the mass market. One of the biggest names in this field is Tesla Motors, which makes expensive sports cars and has had trouble increasing manufacturing.
But Lit Motors, which has just 10 people on staff, thinks it can bring the benefits of an electric vehicle even to those who aren’t rich. Mr. Kim says his motorcycle will be money-saving, safe to drive and simple to build.
The main culprit in the high price of electric vehicles is the battery, said Dan Sperling, a professor of civil engineering and environmental science and policy at the University of California, Davis and director of its Institute of Transportation Studies. Unlike computer chips and digital storage, which have improved rapidly while dropping in price, battery technology has made slow progress, he said, so vehicle batteries are still bulky and pricey.
The other challenge, Dr. Sperling said, is that most people are not ready to embrace electric vehicles yet. Consumers could be nervous about the reliability and maintenance of such an expensive purchase — buggy software, for example, could lead to more serious consequences than it would on something like a smartphone. That’s why many auto companies have stuck to making hybrid vehicles, which use both gas and electricity and are more affordable, easier to produce and more familiar to drivers.
“It’s not like when you buy an iPhone and you throw it out or don’t use it as much when it gets old,” Dr. Sperling said. “Unlike an iPhone or Windows system, it can’t crash — it has to perform with high reliability all the time.”
Mr. Kim, who dropped out of Reed College and the University of California, Berkeley and later studied industrial design at the Rhode Island School of Design, has plans to overcome those obstacles. The motorcycle is lighter than a car so its batteries can be smaller and cheaper. And to improve reliability, the system is equipped with more components than it actually needs, Mr. Kim said.
The C-1’s secret weapons are the gyroscopes that allow it to balance itself, similar to the approach used in the Segway scooter. In a video, the company shows the bike remaining upright as a car yanks it from the side. Only one gyroscope is needed to maintain balance, but there are always two running; each gyroscope has redundant computer chips, controllers and sensors, so if any one of those fails, there are extras to back it up.
The bike is made up of 2,200 parts, or one-tenth the number in the average car, which should make it easier to mass-produce, Mr. Kim said. He plans to start manufacturing the motorcycle in the United States.