Hello all! My top engineering technology picks of the week include robots that can feel pain, 3D printing pharmaceuticals customized to patients and an ingenious public transportation solution. Have a great weekend!
- Researchers teaching robots to feel pain
- Awesome Pong Tabletop Game Created By Daniel Perdomo
- Singapore researchers unveil 3D-printed customized pills
- Gibraltar’s landmark wave power station opens for business
- When traffic snarls up, China’s street-straddling concept bus zooms above it all
Robots can be extremely useful in certain circumstances, including their ability to manage dangerous or hazardous situations. However, the inability to feel pain can lead to unnecessary damage. A pair of researchers from Germany are trying to create Skynet a robotic nervous system that can feel, interpret pain and respond appropriately. The thought is that by adding a pain response to robots, they can avoid the damage that might be experienced through a BioTac fingertip sensor. The artificial nervous system is able to feel degrees of pain from light to severe, including a temperature pain class. In the test video, the robot can be seen reacting to different forms and types of pressure.
Awesome Pong Tabletop Game Created By Daniel Perdomo
Pong. If you haven’t played it before, you’ve probably heard of it. One of the earliest video games, it helped mold one of the first generations of “gamers”. While it has made appearances across many generations and devices (from the original Atari to calculators to browser windows), it has never really been a good fit in a home. A few pong fanatics decided to work on a project that would make Pong a featured item in any home by turning it into a coffee table with an air-hockey style movement system. The team has produced a working, playable prototype, but is still a long time away from a production-ready model.
3D printing is constantly expanding into different industries and more applications. While the healthcare industry is one of the leading industries with many applications in development (and already in use, in some cases), researchers at the National University of Singapore found what could be a major breakthrough for pharmaceuticals. 3D pills can be printed with customized dosages and release rates that can be customized for each patient. Others have printed medications, with varying successes, but this is one of the first with the ability to control release rates. Conventional pills maintain a constant release rate, which requires patients to cut pills and take throughout the course of the day as required.
It seems like every couple of weeks, a new renewable energy technology is being tested. This time, the tiny island of Gibraltar just started using buoys to begin collecting green energy. The concept captures energy by harnessing the rise and fall of the waves, converting the motion into fluid pressure, which in turn, spins a generator. What is important is that this energy system is located at the famous and picturesque World War II ammunition jetty. The buoy system is inconspicuous, which still makes the destination attractive for visitors, while taking advantage of the constant waves, which is a significant complaint of many off-shore wind farms. Currently, the station can produce 100 KW, but the teams are targeting 5 MW by 2020, which could lead to 15 percent of the territory’s energy needs.
Traffic can be a nightmare for just about anyone commuting on a regular basis. The larger the city, the worse the issue in many cases. In an effort to reduce congestion while also producing a cleaner form of transportation, one company presented the electric “straddling bus”. This bus could carry up to 1,400 passengers and use current infrastructure to operate. Tracks would run along roads, that lift the bus approximately seven feet off the ground, so it could pass over vehicles that are in bumper-to-bumper traffic, or vehicles could easily pass under if the bus stops for passengers.
The energy impact and cost is quite noticeable, as it would run off electricity, reducing fuel consumption by nearly 800 tons and carbon emissions by almost 2,500 tons every year. The concept serves the same purpose as a subway by bypassing automotive congestion, however, by using the infrastructure already in place, it would be approximately 16 percent of what a subway would cost.