A great story in the

A great story in the Weekend Magazine section of the Weekend Australian about two guys who had an idea that is about to revolutionise heavy transport. It involves harnessing the energy used in braking and accelerating any large vehicle and re-applying this energy when needed. Claims of reducing fuel consumption by up to 37% while significantly reducing brake wear and emissions makes the whole effort look like a perfect win-win situation. Even Greenies will like it. The US Army with some 246,000 tactical vehicles has voted for the idea by sending one of their FMTV or Family of Modern Vehicles, to Richmond, NSW, via a C5 Galaxy cargo plane to have it fitted and trialled in Australia. Commercial applications involve talks with America's biggest waste disposal operator with 36,000 trucks. The great advantage of the system is that it can be retro-fitted. No link but the website tells it all. To quote the Permo-Drive website: The Permo-Drive technology has been designed to achieve the integration of vehicle dynamics, advanced hydraulics, mechanical engineering, accumulator technology, materials science, computer telemetry and electronics. Put simply, the Permo-Drive system harnesses the previously wasted braking energy of a vehicle, stores this energy and is able to release it back into the drive shaft as required. For example a truck going down a hill or braking can store that energy for use at a later time. If the truck needs to accelerate or go up a hill, or through a gear change, the Permo-Drive system can be automatically activated to deliver additional torque to the drive shaft during periods of peak engine demand. No. This is not a free ad for Permo-Drive - I'm just glad to skite about how good we Aussies can be. Sometimes, if you follow politics and news, all can seem to be doom and gloom but with a positive look, good news stories are abound. Go visit their website so you can skite with accuracy. I'm on a roll here. Having been a professional soldier for a long time, I would often stand on a soap box, after sufficient lubrication, and bore subalterns shitless with statements about how, in this century, oops, the last century, technology had progressed from mankind being land-bound to walking on the moon, yet the means of delivering a rifle round to the 'centre of seen mass' of an enemy soldier had started with a round, (bullet to civilians) a catridge filled with explosive stuff, a detonator in the base of this cartridge and a firing pin to launch it and had not progressed one iota in all those years. Pause now, and conjure up the greying Major, beer and port stains hidden in the camouflage of his battle jacket, battles and glory passed or missed, in the background ireverant subalterns chattering about which nightclub to assault later rather than partake of my wisdom and just the odd strain of Waltzing Matilda...... A guy from Woolworths in Rockhampton, Queensland. enters the story now as he has kicked the soap box from underneath my feet with an invention called Metal Storm. 100% electronic ballistics! No longer will the soldier replace his empty magazine with a full one, but in the future he will clip on another barrel preloaded with rounds that have a small propellant charge attached at the base of each round. A computer chip will send a signal and electronically discharge the round at the front of the line. The secret, that had evaded all but the Rockhampton grocer, was to engineer the principle so that only the first round discharged rather than simultaneous detonation of the whole barrel full. Of course, once electronics is introduced to the firing cycle, the old mechanical limit of about 600 to a thousand rounds per minute are forgotten. Think millions! Computers divide a second into one billion parts, being a nanosecond. Mechanics can only hope for a thousand divisions at best. The technology applies to the full family of weapons and even includes pistol grip recognition that only allows the 'programmed' firer to actually use the weapon. Police will love it. Those multilayered TV shots of 'bad guy - good guy' fights with pistols sliding across the floor to be grabbed and used by the bad guy are finished! ............Are you subalterns listening yet? The technology is limited only by your imagination. Mortars can be fired so fast that even my old mate 'Darky Butlers' Vietnam days record of 31 bombs in the air from an 81mm mortar before the first impacted will now be slow, writ large. Think bursts without commas and new looking machine guns disintegrating tanks with simple volume of fire. In Vietnam we carried a 40mm grenade launcher (M72) that was a bitch to fire accurately and carried one round in the shotgun-like breech. On the website you see models that will drop rounds out at 600 rounds per minute! Heady stuff. Good on you, Aussie. Now if I can just rev up those subalterns again I'll really be on a roll. General Cosgrove, I want to do it all again with better toys - recommission me....please!