Top 5 Engineering Technology Articles This Week

Hello all! My top engineering technology picks of the week include the world’s first electric highway, incredible homes from around the world and the backpack-worn cardboard drum set. Have a great weekend!

Sweden debuts the world’s first ‘electric highway’

Trucks are still one of the main ways that companies transport materials around the world. However, the fuel usage and resulting pollution are some of the highest carbon-intensive activities in use today. Siemens and Scania have produced a trial of what is being called the world’s first “electric highway.” The 1.2 mile stretch has overhead wires (similar to an electrified railroad) that a truck can connect to and deactivate its fuel-burning engine. One estimate claims that this project could cut energy consumption in half. This significant amount of savings could reduce costs throughout the product channel, while also reducing the damage to the environment from excessive carbon emissions.

The Verge
Boston Dynamics made a giraffe robot

Robots come in many different forms. Some are extremely basic, while others are extremely advanced. Boston Dynamics created SpotMini, an all-electric robot that can be equipped with an elongated neck. The neck is capable to playing tug of war or being gentle with glasses and other materials, as seen in the two images below.

The impressive feat is shown as it grabs a tight hold on the beverage can and pulls without causing damage to the can.

At the same time, the grabber is gentle enough to handle glassware and move it from the sink to the dishwasher.

Where money’s no object, cliff-hangers and aircraft-wing homes can be yours

Every so often, I find an article like this that looks at some of the crazy homes that are actually available for purchase. I’m not sure that I’d want to live in many, but a vacation in one would be pretty neat. It is incredible to see what engineers and designers can create built into the environment (like clifftop retreats) or something that jumps out at you in a neighborhood. Growing up, we had a “round-house” a block away — everyone knew about it when you mentioned it. Take a look at some of the cool homes in the article. Which one would you want to visit?

Play beats on boxes with the Obilab cardboard drum kit

Talk about getting an inexpensive and small drum set. This kickstarter campaign is producing a backpack-worn cardboard drum set, complete with kick pedal, three drums and a high hat. It collapses into a convenient backpack to transport. This ingenious set up produces a quality instrument at a fraction of the price of a standard drum kit. The final tweak on the drums is a layer of fiberglass to provide a stronger, more reliable structure so as not to break during standard use. This also does not add significant weight or cost to the kit.

Your Self-Driving Car Will Be Programmed to Kill You—Deal With It

While we aren’t at the Jetsons’ flying car, self-driving cars seem to be the next big thing. However, there are still many significant issues to overcome with the technology. One of the most significant is how a vehicle will react to protect lives: does it swerve to protect others, or do what’s safest for the passengers? A recent study pointed to conflicting thoughts. Generally, respondents agreed that a car with one rider should swerve to avoid crashing into pedestrians; however, very few would want to ride in a car programmed like this. As the technology moves forward and companies begin to adopt best practices with regards to “best practices” of autonomous control, it will be interested to see what critical decisions are made in regards to these safety discussions.