A Diamond As Big As a Rolls

One of the features of modern transportation is the orange traffic cone, which is usually spotted in seemingly endless lines.

One of the features of modern transportation is the orange traffic cone, which is usually spotted in seemingly endless lines. As in roadway construction projects.

Overall, there are approximately 12-million miles of paved roads on the planet and 8-million unpaved (so says WolframAlpha, and a quick check of the CIA’s The World Factbook shows that there are a kilometer after kilometer of unpaved roads in places that you might not expect: while it might not be particularly surprising to learn that in Afghanistan there are 29,800 km of unpaved roads and 12,350 km of paved roads (as of 2006), it is probably somewhat more startling to learn that in the U.S., of the 6,586,610 km of roadways, 2,281,895 km are unpaved (as of 2012)).

Clearly, there are plenty of rough surfaces to go around (and in places like Michigan, one could make the argument that some of the paved roads are really unpaved, at least in condition).

This look at paved roads stems from the ongoing development at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars to produce what its chairman and CEO, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, described as a vehicle that “offers the luxury of a Rolls-Royce” yet be one “that can cross any terrain.”

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While this might appear to be a Rolls modified for inclusion in a publication like Dub, it is actually an engineering mule for Rolls’s “Project Cullinan”

Or, as one might expect, a sport-utility vehicle.

The undertaking was announced in February of this year. An engineering mule—based on a shortened Phantom Series II body—is now on the road, as the engineers work to develop an all-wheel drive suspension for the vehicle that is to deliver “Rolls-Royce’s hallmark ‘magic-carpet’ ride not only on the road, but off-road too.”

So in addition to running on paved roads (the United Kingdom has 394,428 km of paved roads; the CIA doesn’t indicate what the unpaved dimensions are; and in Germany, as Rolls-Royce is part of BMW, the kilometers paved are 645,000, and again no unpaved information), the mule will be run on test surfaces including “Belgian Pavé, cobblestones, corrugated concrete, noise development and measurement surfaces, resonance road, and acceleration bumps.” (Or they could just drive on Haggerty Road between Five and Six Mile roads in Livonia, Michigan, and call it good.)

The name of the development program is “Project Cullinan.”

While it is not spelled out what “Cullinan” refers to, it is likely a reference to the Cullinan diamond that was discovered in South Africa in 1905, the largest gem-quality rock ever discovered. It weighs on the order of 3106.75 carats, or 1.37 pounds (admittedly before it was turned into nine individual gems).

While looking into the Cullinan, I found that it is the largest non-carbonado diamond.

As for the largest carbonado diamond: it weighs 3167 carat, or about 1.4 pounds.

Its name, however, is one that the people at Rolls probably wouldn’t be in favor of, though the people at FCA would love it: Sergio.