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Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Ford Focus Electric "Butterfly Effect"

Ford's big unveiling at the CES in Las Vegas was its new Focus Electric, and associated apps and charging stations.

One of the items that caught my attention was the cutesy butterfly graphics that, like the green leaves on the Ford hybrid instrument clusters, give positive feedback about your driving style. Ford said that the butterflies were inspired by "the butterfly effect".

The Butterfly Effect is an illustration of instability in nonlinear systems, (also known as "Chaos theory"). Which I happened to take a class on in college. Basically, if you have a nonlinear system, and you start out at two very similar but not identical starting points, you may wind up in a very different state. That is, small perturbations may case large changes in the final outcome. The old example was the butterfly that flapped its wings, and caused the weather to shift on another continent.

What this has to do with driving a Focus EV I am not sure. Do they mean to say that driving a Focus EV will save enough gasoline to cause the Saudis to go broke? Seems doubtful. Perhaps a Ford P.R. guy can email me and explain it. In the meantime, I propose that there should be a "Punisher Mode" for these displays.

How this would work is when you drive like a bad-ass, you get little skulls. Hard acceleration, high lateral g's, hard braking, etc.

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1 comment:

Pawl Bearing said...

or if you stay in the passing lane to long you get pictures of wrinkeled hunched old ladies....