OLPC, it should really be OCPF – One car per family!

There was recently a big deal made of the whole OLPC program, which produced a sub $100 laptop to help children (aswell as adults actually, should have thought about that Negroponte! Oh wait, the keyboard is too small and rubbery for adults to use…) learn and play and so on and so forth and do what ever they want to do with computers. Yes, this is probably a good idea, I’m not going into the ethics at all behind it, but in general, education (if these laptops help promote such a thing) is good. As Sir Francis Bacon once said, ‘Knowledge is power.’

But surely in this day and age, with the threat of global warming and rising seas and adverse weather conditions, not to mention other such non related things like terrorism and coups, a laptop is not sufficient to solve these problems. True, it wasn’t designed to do such things, it is around to promote education for children and adults alike, be that in Africa or Alabama. What is really needed, is something that may well stand a better chance of solving these problems, something that may have an effect on carbon emissions, or the rising seas…

Well, at CES, or most likely before that (the exact date is largely irrelevant!) the people’s car was launched. I’m not referring to any VW (VolksWagen -> Folk’s Wagon -> People’s Car), I’m talking about Tata Motors’s $2500 ‘1-Lakh’ Nano. A car made with the intent and purpose that everyone is now able to afford a car. While that’s good, looking at the specs in more detail make it clear that this runs on petrol… a product of a fossil fuel and thus produces Carbon emissions and uses oil. Wouldn’t some renewable energy, or hydrogen fuel cells (granted they are more expensive) work miles better? If they plan to do what they say and make it so everyone can afford to buy it, then surely they don’t want it relying on such a thing as petrol! That age is surely over – at least when developing something that will be widely used in a country such as India!

Thus some project, along the lines of OLPC, yet maybe backed (and financed too anyone?) with some good industrial support that doesn’t leave halfway through and make a competing product would be suitable. Hence the OCPF – One Car Per Family. Yes, it sounds like some smalltown anti-(multiple) car association, but only in the same way that the OLPC programme could be a similar group lobbying to decrease the number of laptops children have! The aim of such a program would be to create and manufacture a cheap automobile, suitable for ‘everyone’ and running on ‘as environmentally friendly as possible’ sources. It probably is a hard thing to sort out, taking time, money and effort that people can’t necessarily spare, but something like this is needed! The technology exists and is all the time getting faster, more efficient and people are coming up with new designs – take, for example the Automotive X Prize. One competitor has a vehicle – the Aptera Typ-1, that does a good 340mpg. Now something of that magnitude would be good for a potential OCPF program.

All that is needed is someone to lead the project…

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