And with that, another week is in the record books. Hope it was a great one for you. Here’s what caught my attention over the last seven days in engineering technology. What do you think about these topics?
China launches two-man crew to station module
Meet the Giant Robot That Builds Boeing’s Wings
Under Armour brings heart-rate monitoring and a bulky design to its Bluetooth earbuds
Elon Musk Says Every New Tesla Can Drive Itself
Pittsburgh’s AI Traffic Signals Will Make Driving Less Boring
I spent a lot of time last week highlighting space-related items, so I’m going to limit myself to just one this week — this one from China. The Chinese successfully launched a rocket to their orbiting space module, Tiangong-2, where the two taikonauts will spend the next month.
China is assembling an orbital laboratory piece by piece. Its goal is to have the station fully functional by the time the international space station is retired in the early 2020s.
For those of us who travel on airplanes frequently, we have a PAL we probably never knew existed. Boeing’s Panel Assembly Line is helping the company push out more 737 wings – to the tune of 33 percent increased throughput over previous manual methods. Boeing’s goal is to assembly 52 wings a month by 2018.
For those of you worried about having a 60-ton machine assembling parts of your aircraft, rest assured that there are plenty of human mechanics who are checking PAL’s work.
We talk about products becoming more complex all the time. A lot of that is due to the convergence of electronics. We used to have a mobile phone, a camera and a PDA. Today they are one in the same. This new gadget from Under Armour follows suit by combining earbuds with Fitbit-like heartbeat-tracking for a new experience while working out.
As the holiday season approaches, we probably know someone who could benefit from something like this. (I’m thinking of you, Walid Abu-Hadba!)
Superbrain Elon Musk is back in the news with this week’s announcement that every Tesla automobile will be autonomous by the end of 2017. He claims that by adding the necessary hardware and software upgrades, a future Tesla will be able to pick someone up in Los Angeles and drop them off in New York City without requiring a single touch from the passenger.
It’s an interesting reaction to the recent press — as well as Germany’s recent request to the company to stop using the term “autopilot.” Given Toyota’s president’s announcement that autonomous vehicles will need 8.8 billion miles of testing, Musk’s vision seems overly optimistic. But he’s proven naysayers wrong in the past.
While we’re discussing automobiles, here’s one to think about as you are stuck in mindless traffic on your way home from work. Urban drivers spend about 40 percent of their time idling in gridlock — much of the time due to dumb traffic signals.
But a Carnegie Mellon University robotics professor here in Pittsburgh is aiming to change that. A pilot with artificial intelligence system for the signals apparently has reduced travel time by 25 percent and idling time by over 40 percent.
Hopefully the system will make your commute a little more bearable soon!