Here is an interview with Steve Sammartino (Australia) and Raul Oaida (Romania) on their efforts to build the car. The project built a fullsize car out of lego ($60,000 worth of legos) with a lego engine that works on air. It really is an interesting interview.
Posts about Engineering
US Fish and Wildlife Service Plans to Use Drones to Drop Vaccine Treats to Save Ferrets
Despite significant recovery successes, the black-footed ferret remains one of the most endangered animals in the world.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has developed a plan to use (UAS) to deliver prairie dog sylvatic plague vaccination.
The primary purpose in this proposal is to develop the equipment, protocols and experience in use of UAS (drones) to deliver oral sylvatic plague vaccine (SPV). It is anticipated that this approach, when fully developed, will offer the most efficient, effective, cost-conscious and environmentally friendly method to apply SPV annually over large areas of prairie dog colonies in support of black-footed ferret recovery.
Plague is a primary obstacle to black-footed ferret recovery. After more than 20 years of intensive reintroduction efforts across 27 reintroduction sites ranging from Mexico to Canada, approximately 300 ferrets were known to exist in the wild at the end of 2015. Ferrets are constantly threatened by plague outbreaks that affect both ferrets, and their primary prey and habitat provider, prairie dogs.
To date, SPV has been applied by hand with people walking pre-defined transects and uniformly dropping single SPV baits every 9-10 meters to achieve a deposition rate of 50 SPV doses per acre. Depending on vegetation and terrain, a single person walking can treat 3-6 acres per hour. All terrain vehicles (ATVs) have been considered but have various problems.
The bait treats are M&Ms smeared in vaccine-laden peanut butter.
Preliminary discussions with people experienced with UAS suggest an aerial vehicle travelling at a modest 9 meters per second could drop a single SPV bait once per second that would result in treating one acre every 50 seconds. If the equipment and expertise can be developed as proposed here, a single UAS operator could treat more than 60 acres per hour.
If the equipment can be developed to deposit 3 SPV doses simultaneously every second, as they envision is possible, some 200 acres per hour could be treated by a single operator. The idea is that the drone would fire the treats in 3 different directions to increase the spread of treats.
The areas to be treated are located in South Phillips County, Montana.
Related: Using Drones to Deliver Medical Supplies in Roadless Areas (2014) – The sub-$1,000 unpiloted aerial vehicles UAV Project (2007) – Autonomous Flying Vehicles (2006) – Cat Allergy Vaccine Created (2011) – AlienFly RC Mosquito Helicopter (2007)
Autonomous Delivery Robots Launched in Europe and USA
Starship Technologies is launching a fleet of autonomous delivery robots on the pavements of the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland as part of the testing program. A similar program will be announced for the United States shortly.
The largest European food delivery company Just Eat, leading German parcel delivery company Hermes, leading German retailer Metro Group, and innovative London food delivery startup Pronto will test the delivery robots developed by Starship Technologies, a company launched in 2014 by Skype co-founders.
As part of the program, dozens of robots will be deployed in five cities to run first test deliveries and introduce the innovative devices to the general public.
“By launching partnerships with major companies we will enter the next phase in our development. While Starship has been testing the robots in 12 countries in the last nine months, we will now develop know-how on running real robotic delivery services,” said Ahti Heinla, co-founder, CEO and CTO of Starship Technologies.
Robots developed by Starship Technologies are meant for delivering packages, groceries and food to consumers in a 2-3 mile radius. The robots can drive autonomously while being monitored by human operators in control centers. Introduced to European and American cities since the end of last year, the robots have already driven close to 5,000 miles and met over 400,000 people without a single accident.
Frank Rausch, CEO of Hermes Germany, said: “We are very proud to be Starship’s exclusive logistics partner in Germany. At Hermes we believe that parcel delivery’s main goal is to fully satisfy the customers’ needs in receiving their online shopping orders as fast and convenient as possible. Nobody likes to spend hours waiting for the courier just to have a parcel delivered. Therefore, individually scheduled delivery services will become increasingly important within the coming years.”
The test programs will run in London, Düsseldorf, Bern and another German city to start, before moving to several other European and American cities. Starship Technologies will also continue testing in Tallinn, Estonia where its R&D facilities are located.
Related: Using Drones to Deliver Medical Supplies in Roadless Areas (2014) – Self Driving Cars Have Huge Potential for Benefit to Society (2014) – Autonomous Helicopters Teach Themselves to Fly (2008) – Toyota Develops Thought-controlled Wheelchair (2009)
This shows a cool engineering innovation: canvas-like material that when it is saturated with water will set (over 5+ hours) into hard concrete. In this example a “tent” with regular doors is covered with water and inflated. After setting it hard enough to climb on top of.
The manufacturer’s site has move information.
Related: Concrete pre-fad Houses 1919 and 2007 – Easy to Assembly Off-the-grid Towns – Research on Ancient Roman Concrete Will Allow the Creation of More Durable and Environmentally Friendly Concrete – UW- Madison Wins 4th Concrete Canoe Competition
Google Cardboard 3d Viewer Helped Surgeons Save Baby’s Life
“It was mind-blowing,” says Cassidy Lexcen, the baby’s mother. “To see this little cardboard box and a phone, and to think this is what saved our daughter’s life.”
Google Cardboard is a virtual reality and augmented reality platform developed by Google for use with a head mount for smart phone. Just get a simple cardboard holder you wear like goggles and an app for Android or iOS and you can view cool 3d virtual realities.
Cleaning Up the Plastic Pollution in Our Oceans
This is an interesting talk on an important topic: cleaning up plastic in the ocean. ,a student from the Netherlands, looked to find a solution to a problem others said couldn’t be solved.
This is exactly the type of wonderful activity that inspired people can accomplish using science and engineering. He collected an understanding of the 50 issues that supposedly makes a solution impossible.
After getting funding (sparked by an explosion of viral social media) he worked on exploring the “insolvable” problems (having withdrawn from school to work on this problem). It is wonderful to see what we can do when inspired people use science and engineering to make the world a better place.
From their website, The Ocean Cleanup
The plastic will be stored in an internal buffer within the platform at the tip of the V-shaped array. The plastic in the buffer will regularly be emptied onto a vessel that comes to collect it for transport to land. This will occur approximately once every six weeks, depending on the size of the vessel.
Besides monetary support, your relevant knowledge and skills may be a very welcome addition to The Ocean Cleanup. Our work requires not only scientific and technical expertise, but also assistance with legal, commercial and policy matters. If you would like to get actively involved in our work, If you would like to get actively involved in our work, please visit the careers page.
They aim to put a full scale pilot project in place in 3 to 4 years.
20 Most Popular Post on Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog in 2015
These were the most popular (by number of page views) posts on our blog in 2015.
- Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel (2008)
- 3D Printing at Home: Today, Challenges and Opportunities (2015)
- Why is it Colder at Higher Elevations? (2008)
- Top Countries for Science and Math Education: Finland, Hong Kong and Korea (2010 – showing 2009 PISA results, related: Math Education Results Show China, Singapore, Korea and Japan Leading (2014 -showing 2012 PISA results)
- Nanotechnology Breakthroughs for Computer Chips (2007)
- Molten Salt Solar Reactor Approved by California (2010)
- Science Sort of Explains: Hiccups (2008)
- Science Toys You Can Make With Your Kids (2005)
- Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe Hybrid Image (2009)
- Loan Forgiveness Program for Engineering Students (2008)
- Science and Optical Illusions (2010)
- Ranking Countries by Scientific Publication Citations: USA, UK, Germany… (2015)
- S&P 500 CEO’s: Engineering is the Most Common Major (2009)
- 59 MPG Toyota iQ Diesel Available in Europe (2008)
- How Lysozyme Protein in Our Tear-Drops Kill Bacteria (2012)
- Home Halloween Engineering: Gaping Hole Costume (2010)
- 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry: the Structure and Function of the Ribosome (2009)
- Using Bacteria to Carry Nanoparticles Into Cells (2007)
- Underwater Pedestrian Walkway (2011)
- Lexus Has Built a Working Hoverboard (2015)
This list shows how popular old posts can remain over time. 12 of these were also in the top 20 in 2014, 8 are new to the list this year. 3 of those are 2015 posts, in 2014 1 post from 2014 made the top 20. The distribution over the years of publication of the posts in the list this year:
Engineering Solutions to Make Our Living Spaces Less Noisy
I am sensitive to noise so the engineering tools available to reduce noise is something I am interested in. I wish those building apartments, condos and hotels paid more attention to these options.
A compounding issue is that it takes only a very small gap to let in a lot of sound.
“If you have a weakness in a wall that is only 1 percent of the total area, the sound transmitted through could double,”
There are many products to aid in reducing sound into your home. Sound Sense shows a wide variety of products available to aid in those efforts.
Soundproofing 101 provides some good basic explanations of the issues involved in soundproofing solutions.
It does sound extreme but I have considered this for a bedroom. Or even scaling it down into a enclosed sleep chamber, just to let me have a quite space to sleep.
Wristband Thermometer Can Save Many Babies’ Lives
As I have mentioned many times before, I really love the use of appropriate technology to make a significant contribution to our lives. It is hard to do much better than saving our babies from death.
Hypothermia and infection are among the top causes of newborn deaths for the poor around the world. Regular temperature monitoring can enable early intervention.
Bempu is a new startup based in India that is developing a wrist-band for newborns that monitors their temperature and gives an audio-alarm if the temperature is unsafe. This isn’t an Apple-watch but it is just as worthy of publicity.
The Gates Foundation, and others, have contributed money to bring this product to market.
From an article on the new wristband:
We know what the problems are, we know what to do about it and it’s not happening,” says Karsten Lunze, a doctor and expert in newborn hypothermia at Boston University. If Bempu, which is still in prototype and will likely get to market by the end of 2015, succeeds, “it would be a miraculous catalyzer that everyone has been looking for over a decade,” he says. It’s testing well so far: A prototype, used on 25 newborns this year, detected a temperature drop a full 24 hours before hospital workers noticed.
Bempu was born after Narain followed his nose to the global south at 27, where he worked as an engineering fellow at Embrace, a nonprofit that makes a cheap, portable and rechargeable incubator for newborns. He noticed something clear: No one was really watching closely. Nurses lacked thermometers; some couldn’t even read them and mothers didn’t know the difference between Celsius and Fahrenheit.
Related: Manufacturing Biological Sensors Using Silk and Looms in India – Cheap vinegar test cut cervical cancer deaths in India; could help many poor countries – Using Drones to Deliver Medical Supplies in Roadless Areas – Appropriate Technology and Focus on Improving Lives at MIT – Water Wheel
Lexus Has Built a Working Hoverboard
Toyota continues to do some fun and interesting research while they produce great cars (and make a lot of money doing so that allows them resources to do interesting research). Some past posts on their engineering exploits: Toyota Develops Thought-controlled Wheelchair (2009), Toyota Engineering Development Process, Innovation at Toyota, How to Develop Products like Toyota, Toyota IT Overview.
Toyota is teasing with the hoverboard announcement but it seems they have actually created it (though it isn’t ready to be in stores this year.
Liquid nitrogen cooled superconductors and permanent magnets combine to power the Lexus Hoverboard.
Sadly they haven’t bothered to hire a decent web designer. They have a pretty but broken website, with essentially no information. It is sad when interesting stories are keep to nearly no information using poorly designed websites created by people obviously more concerned with old fashion paper design thinking than how the web can be used to be clear and useful (not just pretty).
Pretty much for the last 10 years Toyota has had pretty but web hostile design for their web sites. It is a shame they can’t hire people that know how to properly create good web sites. Thankfully they hire good engineers and use good processes to actually develop products.
Data Furnaces: Free Heating, for Those with Fiber Internet
Data furnaces have arrived in the Netherlands offering free heating for those with fiber internet connections. Those running data centers spend a lot of money cooling them off or thinking of ways to keep cooling costs down Google Uses Only Outside Air to Cool Data Center in Belgium (weather should provide free cooling for all but about 7 days a year).
Nerdalize is offering an interesting engineering solution to this issue. Even better than eliminating cooling costs this idea will use the excess heat to warm people’s houses.
This structural cost advantage allows us to offer computing power that is up to 55% more affordable than major cloud-providers or co-location solutions whilst giving incredible performance.
The Nerdalize heater contains high-performance servers in the form of a radiator and allows for them to be placed in your home safely and secure. As Nerdalize covers the cost of electricity, the heat generated by computations, such as medical research, heat your home for free.
The installation of a server heater, the Eneco eRadiator, in the living rooms of five families at different locations in the Netherlands this month starts a field test of the units. The purpose of the test is to collect information on customer experience and to identify possible areas of improvement of the eRadiator.
Sign up on their website if you want free heating (Netherlands is likely the best bet but they may expand around Europe also, or even further).