Tech Report: Mitsubishi i, Eco-friendly Car

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LOS ANGELES -- Each month we take a test drive in an eco-friendly car and this month the car of choice was the all-electric Mitsubishi i.

With a fuel economy equivalent of 112 miles per gallon, the i, Mitsubishi says, is the most affordable electric car out there.

Other electric and hybrid cars have been gaining popularity in the U.S. recently, and Mitsubishi is making their entry in with a strong contender.

It’s tiny, efficient and boasts a friendly exterior.

“We’ve got a little bit more of an eco-expressionistic design into this,” said Melvin, a representative from Mitsubishi. “We’ve put a lot of bubbly design.”

It definitely is a happy car; Without a drop of gas the i can go 62 miles on a single charge.

But Mitsubishi isn’t new to the game by any means. Though the i is new in the U.S., a similar model has been cruising the streets of Japan for more than five years.

“We have over 40 years of experience in developing the lithium ion batteries and our engineers have done a bunch of research in Japan,” explained Melvin.

At a quick glance it’s obvious the i has a small footprint, but surprisingly the interior feels roomy if a bit tinnier than your typical compact.

True to its high-tech form, the i offers a navigation system with real-time traffic, Bluetooth connectivity, voice controls and a hard drive with 40 GBs of storage for your tunes.

“There are a ton of high-tech features in here,” Melvin said. “However we wanted to keep it simple and make it so that everything can adjust and not have too many buttons and make it too complex.”

On the road, drivers have three different drive modes ranging from the most powerful to the most fuel efficient.

And as an added bonus the remote for the car offers features to pre-heat or cool the car before getting inside. The only caveat being, it needs to be plugged in.

Speaking of being plugged in, recharging the i will take 22 hours with a standard plug or 7 hours with a 220 volt adapter and even less with a level 3 charging station (currently still few and far in between in the U.S.). It’s just like filling up a tank of gas, for half an hour.

For such a high-tech car the i isn’t without its flaws. One obvious oddity is the retractable antenna that protrudes out from the remote control--not too common with today’s standards.

Minor oddity aside, the intuitive features in the i make it an excellent commuter’s car, but it probably won’t be making it first on the list for anyone looking for a family car.

The Mitsubishi i runs about $30,000, but the state and federal tax credits of up to $10,000 may help with the sticker shock.Robot Assisted Hip Surgery Improves ProcedureMonday, January 23, 2012 10:27 AMNearly 300,000 hip replacement surgeries are performed in the U.S. every year, and some of those patients have to head back into the operating room due to complications. But now, robotic 3D technology is making the process more reliable.

This high-tech procedure was recently approved for use in the U.S. It uses a robotic arm to help surgeons get a more accurate alignment of the replacement hip every time.

One couple shared their experience when it came time for a hip replacement.

Diane and Gene Arnold wanted the best tech possible when going into surgery and were confident in the procedure.

"I was all for it. Anything to ensure the success of a hip replacement, I didn't want any complications," said Gene.

The Arnold’s heard plenty of hip replacement horror stories of routine surgeries that fail due to improper placement of an artificial hip. Then they heard about a new robotic-assisted surgery being done at the Good Samaritan hospital in Los Angeles.

"We try to do a perfect job every time but, being human we don't,” Dr. Dorr of Good Samaritan hospital said about the complicated procedure. “And these errors range anywhere from 10 percent to 15 percent, the margin of error with the robot is about 5 percent.”

Dorr, who helped design the system, calls it the "Mako Total Hip Arthroplasty". It uses a robotic arm and 3D imaging for a precise, custom fit.

The new technology worked wonders for the couple. Diane and Gene were back to normal with activities and work just two weeks after the surgery--all thanks to the high-tech help of a steady hand.

"There's a lot of anxiety about going in and getting a hip replacement you know,” Gene said. “And after going through it, people don't need to be as scared as they are.”

While the system is new for hip-replacements, doctors have been using a similar robotic arm to help them with knee surgeries for about five years now.To check if the MAKO Surgical System is available near you, check here:http://www.makosurgical.com/patients/surgeon-locator.html

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