Hello all! My top engineering technology picks of the week include the Hyperloop’s successful acceleration test, smart paper and an update on the Curiosity Mars lander. Have a great weekend!
- 0 to 400 mph in mere seconds: Welcome to the age of hyperloop
- Paper gets ‘smart’ with drawn-on, stenciled sensor tags
- Clean Up Industrial Wastewater, Reveals German Research
- Curiosity Mars rover completes its second Martian year
- New hybrid system gives robot arms human-like grace and precision
We are another step closer! A successful test in the desert north of Las Vegas used magnetic levitation to speed a sled down a track that reached 400 mph in 2 seconds. Considering the test was only two seconds long, it was enough to cause excitement for founders, showing technology similar to that used in high-speed maglev trains could be deployed more cheaply, without the steep cost of high-tech trains and rails. The Hyperloop team is hoping to have a full-functioning tube test by the end of the year that will last three miles. If tests prove successful, tests could lead to cargo transportation in 2019 and passengers by 2021.
The short video of the test is impressive – albeit short. Take a look:
Paper has been around for a long time. It really hasn’t changed across the years. However, as everything gets more connected, researchers decided to find a way to make paper smarter. RFID sensors that are stuck, printed or drawn on a piece of paper can sense gestures to create interactive, lightweight interfaces that can do anything from controlling music using a paper baton, to live polling in a classroom. This unique system, called PaperID, uses inexpensive RFID tags, that function without batteries. These tags can be detected through a reader device placed in the same room as the tags. Each tag has a unique identification, so a reader’s antenna can pick out an individual among many.
Water & Wastewater International
Clean Up Industrial Wastewater, Reveals German Research
Industrial wastewater can contain toxic heavy metals and contamination, making disposal difficult. However, researchers at Max-Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart have created microbots that can remove 95 percent of lead in polluted water. These innovative bots possess three unique layers that allow them to absorb lead, direction controlled by an external magnetic field and finally a propulsion system. These bots, that are thinner than a strand of human hair, could be a solution that is faster and cheaper than conventional methods of cleaning wastewater.
It’s hard to believe Curiosity landed over two years ago – well, two years on Mars (August 2012 “Earth-time”). It has been able to collect two full rotations of the environment on Mars. This is starting to lead scientists to determine seasonal patterns, as well as leading to some unexplained spikes in methane that was noticed during the first southern-hemisphere autumn in Gale Crater. Curiosity’s weather system tests the environment every day of every hour, so more than 34 million measurements have been conducted to this point.
Leave it to Disney to create a robot that can play in water balloon tossing competitions or can pick up eggs. The robotic arms merge the flexibility to perform these tasks, but also the delicacy needed of a lighter touch. The hybrid system (hydraulic and pneumatic) requires only a single motor. A hydraulic line moves a joint in its primary direction, while an air line returns it. This produces a lighter, faster and more dexterous robot.