3D Printing a Better Drone


via MachineDesign: Drones are changing the way we see the world—literally. From YouTubers who fly these tiny vehicles to show the world stunning views of their city, to farmers monitoring their crops from a bird’s-eye perspective, drones have made a huge impact in our personal and professional lives. As an industrial designer, I’m always fascinated by the way things work, and drones are no exception. That’s why I decided to reverse engineer and rebuild one. I dissected the components involved, designed the new body in CAD, and used a 3D printer to bring my final design to life. There was plenty of trial and error, of course, but the project sharpened my design and engineering skills while helping me to better understand the design decisions that go into building an actual drone. Step 1: Dissect and Evaluate the Components I began the reverse engineering process by carefully disassembling the original drone to expose all of the individual parts. By taking the time to learn how each part interacted with the others, I was able to determine the constraints of my redesign. For this particular project, I had to consider the fixed distance between the motors. The weight of my new design needed to be close to that of the original drone as well. These aspects of the design couldn’t change, but I could experiment with other parts: the location of the ports, the positioning of the boards, the wire routing, and the overall structure and durability. Taking the time to dissect… Read more

Supercapacitors: Past, Present, and Future


via Power Electronics: Though the idea of supercapacitors has been around since the 19th century, current technologies are finally realizing the advanced energy storage that was always deemed possible. The concept behind supercapacitors (sometimes called ultracapacitors) has drawn a lot of attention since conception due to the technology’s exceptionally high capacitance with an almost unlimited charge/discharge cycle life. Supercapacitors promise an operational voltage between 1 and 3 V for both organic and aqueous electrolytes, with the potential for incredible energy storage and rapid charging. The potential to store electrical energy using an electric double layer at an interface between an electrolyte and solid compound has been known since the 19th century (source: Batteries & Energy Storage Technology 2007). However, it’s been a struggle to create a reliable application for the technology. The supercapacitor has come a long way since conception, and recent technologies certainly prove useful applications for the age-old electrical design. A Brief History The supercapacitor, or ultracapacitor, is electrically known as the electrochemical capacitor (EC) because it stores electrical charge in the electric double layer of a surface-electrolyte interface (source: Batteries & Energy Storage Technology 2007). This interface is primarily a high surface-area carbon. The large surface area, coupled with the tight area of the double layer, gives the device one of the highest capacitance outputs of any capacitor around. The first electrochemical capacitor device was patented by General Electric’s H.I. Becker in 1957. Though a double-layer charge storage was used with this device, it was impractical because of… Read more

Continental Middle East Presents Two New Tyre Technology Concepts for Greater Safety and Comfort


via Albawaba: Continental is introducing two new tire concepts designed to provide a safe and comfortable driving experience in the future. The two technologies, ContiSense and ContiAdapt, are designed to continuously monitor a tyre’s condition and offer situation-matched adaptation of tyre performance characteristics to prevailing road conditions. ContiSense is based on the development of electronic conductive rubber compounds that enable electric signals to be sent from a sensor in the tyre to a receiver in the car. Continuously monitoring both tread depth and temperature, the rubber-based sensors indicate if the measured value is above or below the predefined limit and triggers the system to immediately alert the driver. If anything penetrates the tread, a circuit in the tyre is closed, triggering an immediate warning for the driver before the tyre pressure starts to drop. In the future, the ContiSense system will feature additional sensors that can also be utilised individually, thus information about the road surface, such as its temperature or the terrain can be sensed by the tyre and passed on to the driver. The data will be transmitted directly to the vehicle or to a smartphone via bluetooth. ContiAdapt combines micro-compressors integrated into the wheel to adjust the tyre pressure with a variable-width rim. The system can thus modify the size of the contact patch, which is a decisive factor under different road conditions for both safety and comfort. ContiAdapt allows perfect adaption to four different conditions: wet, uneven surface, slippery and normal conditions. For example, a smaller contact… Read more

World’s Most Powerful Wind Turbine: One Rotation ‘Can Power the Average UK Home for a Day’


via gtm: Swedish energy giant Vattenfall announced Tuesday that it successfully installed an 8.8-megawatt capacity offshore wind turbine from Vestas at the European Offshore Wind Deployment Center (EOWDC) off the coast of Scotland. It’s the first of 11 turbines planned for the project and the first deployment of a model of that size for commercial use. Vattenfall will also install another 8.8-megawatt model from Vestas at the site. It’s an important milestone for a project that faced years of legal challenges from Donald Trump. Before becoming president, Trump battled the project because it conflicted with a planned golf course development in the area. At the time, his organization said it “will completely destroy the bucolic Aberdeen Bay.” The U.K.’s Supreme Court struck down Trump’s challenge in 2015. Now, Vattenfall will use the site to test the high-capacity turbines. For the two 8.8-megawatt turbines, enhanced internal power modes bumped capacity up from 8.4 megawatts on MHI Vestas’ flagship V164 turbine platform. Søren Lassen, a business analyst at MAKE Consulting, said the uprating trend is noteworthy, but the 0.4 megawatt increase is not revolutionary. He noted that MHI Vestas already has orders for a 9.5-megawatt version of its V164 platform turbine launched in June. “The trend of uprating is symptomatic of the offshore wind market in Europe, as developers push to take advantage of the favorable wind resources,” said Lassen. “Turbine [manufacturers] will continue to boost the rating of their current offshore platforms into the early 2020s.” Turbines, offshore and onshore, will just… Read more

China Joins the World Green Building Council Community


via GreenBiz: China’s Green Building Council officially has partnered with the World Green Building Council in a major boost to international efforts to curb the environmental impact of the building and construction sectors, the two organizations announced. The partnership was hailed as “hugely significant” by the World GBC, given China’s position as the largest building construction market in the world, responsible for the construction of up to 2 billion square meters of building space each year. The country is expected to account for nearly half of new global construction over the coming decade. The Chinese government is one of 90 countries to include its building sector in its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the international Paris Agreement, with commitments covering energy efficiency, construction waste and low-carbon urbanization. It also aims to increase the share of new green buildings in urban areas by 50 percent by 2020. China GBC therefore will cooperate with other national Green Building Councils to leverage and share best practices. It also has committed to introducing a “nearly net zero” standard for its Three Start rating system in 2018 as part of the World GBC’s Advancing Net Zero project. As well as tackling greenhouse gases, the group also will focus on improving the impact of buildings on both indoor and outdoor air pollution. Terri Wills, CEO of the World Green Building Council, said the significance of China joining the global green building movement “cannot be underestimated.” “Just as China has sought to assert its commitment to combating climate… Read more

3D Printer Can Create Complete Home in One Day


via Learning English: An American company says it has completed the first permitted 3D printed home in the United States. The home was shown to reporters and visitors at the South by Southwest technology conference and music festival. The event took place earlier this month in Austin, Texas. Building company ICON has developed large 3D printers that build homes with mortar, a hard and strong material. ICON uses robotics, computer software programs and advanced materials to make houses. Jason Ballard is the company’s co-founder. “So I’m standing in front of the first permitted 3D-printed home in America. This house was actually printed in high winds, blowing dust and rain.” It is important for the printing process to operate in extreme conditions, such as weather disasters. The goal is to print homes in developing countries. ICON’s 3-D printer is made of lightweight aluminum, and measures 4.5-meters tall by 9 meters wide. The homes are printed on-site, so the equipment has to be light enough to move from one property to the next. Ballard imagines that someday, many 3-D printers will operate around the world to make homes. “It’s actually a lot more simple to build a printer than it is to build a house,” he said. “We ran this printer at about a quarter speed to print this house, and we were able to complete the house in less than 48 hours of print time.” Ballard says that at full speed, the printing process could take as little as 12 hours. ICON… Read more

AI System Could Become New Chemistry Assistant


via Interesting Engineering: Artificial intelligence systems have been developed for nearly every other facet of scientific disciplines, but one new AI tool could help chemists out enormously. A team of researchers developed a deep learning computer program that details the sequences of chemical reactions needed to create organic molecules and compounds. While this isn’t chemistry’s first AI breakthrough (and certainly not the first piece of software developed for chemical reactions), the development has already been called “landmark” by scientists not associated with the study. “What we have seen here is that this kind of artificial intelligence can capture this expert knowledge,” said Pablo Carbonell, who designs synthesis-predicting tools at the University of Manchester, UK, and was not involved in the work. The software takes its inspiration from AI systems that have surpassed human ability in online gaming. Software like “AlphaGo” combine Monte Carlo Tree Search and deep neural networks that use machine learning and artificial intelligence. Engineers from the University of Muenster in Germany applied that same technology to chemical synthesis (or retrosynthesis) in order to plan reactions. Marwin Segler served as the lead author on this study. “Retrosynthesis is the ultimate discipline in organic chemistry,” Segler explained. “Chemists need years to master it — just like with chess or Go. In addition to straightforward expertise, you also need a goodly portion of intuition and creativity for it. So far, everyone assumed that computers couldn’t keep up without experts programming in tens of thousands of rules by hand. What we have… Read more

What is 5G Technology and Who Benefits?


via aljazeena:  Technology companies are promising to change people’s lives with super-fast wireless mobile networks. So-called 5G systems were the main focus of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week. “5G is the next generation of mobile technology,” Daniel Gleeson, a consumer technology analyst at London-based digital consultancy, Ovum, tells Al Jazeera. “It’s going to be faster and more reliable internet speeds on your phone. But more than that, it’s all about having very reliable and quick responding connections, and that’s going to be very important for enabling new use cases for this technology,” he says – referring to self-driving cars, virtual reality, delivery drones, smart cities and billions of interconnected devices. While this technology is considered revolutionary, it’s also going to be expensive as carriers will have to upgrade their infrastructures in order for 5G to travel on super high frequencies airwaves. They can’t travel through walls, windows and get weaker over long distances. “This is probably going to be a big problem for operators in terms of how exactly they’re going to roll it out – it is going to be very expensive,” says Gleeson. “Every part of it [will be expensive] – from licensing the spectrum on day one to building out small networks in urban areas and eventually bridging that digital divide.” Millions of people already don’t have reliable access to the internet, so there are concerns that many countries will not be able to afford 5G, thus widening the global digital divide. As a… Read more

New Laser Technology Lets Driverless Cars See Round Corners


via theguardian: A new laser-based system could allow vehicles to ‘see’ obstacles before they come into view, scientists say Whether it’s a child running after a ball, a herd of cows or a broken-down car, unexpected obstacles can prove deadly to drivers. But scientists say the cars of the future might be able to anticipate such perils. A team of researchers have come up with a new laser-based system that efficiently produces images of objects that are hidden around a corner – a development they say could allow autonomous vehicles to see obstacles before they come into the line of sight. “There is this preconceived notion that you can’t image objects that aren’t already directly visible to the camera – and we have found ways to get around these types of limiting situations,” said Dr Matthew O’Toole, a coauthor of the research from Stanford University. The approach builds on technologies such as Lidar, a tool used in archaeological mapping that involves sending laser pulses towards a surface and measuring the time it takes for light to be reflected. This data is then used by scientists to build a three-dimensional model of the surface. But the new technology takes the idea further, using lasers to see around corners. “It is almost like magic,” said O’Toole. Writing in the journal Nature, O’Toole and colleagues describe how they used a setup in which a laser and photon detector were placed in front of a wall next to an object, and were separated from the… Read more

Architecture Students Use Cross-Laminated Timber to Build Tiny Classroom in Oregon Forest


via dezeen: Prefabricated panels of cross-laminated timber were used to construct this micro cabin in the Pacific Northwest, designed and built by architecture students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The Emerge cabin is located near Eugene, a small Oregon city that is surrounded by forests and farmland. The compact structure was created in three weeks by 13 students in a design-build programme called PLAIN, led by professor Jason Griffiths at UNL’s College of Architecture. Encompassing 80 square feet (seven square metres), the cabin is used as a classroom for visitors to the Bauman Tree Farm – a 673-acre (272-hectare) family-owned farm that promotes forest stewardship and education. “The educational cabin serves as a gathering place for small elementary school tour groups wanting to learn about sustainable forestry,” the design team said. Conceived in collaboration with the farm, the building’s design is meant to convey a relationship to the forest and the production of lumber in the Pacific Northwest. “It provides a way of visualising the transition of wood from its natural state through the incremental procedures by which it is transformed into a lumber product,” said Griffiths. “These transitions then narrate the assimilation of the product into architecture, and in this case, back to the forest.” Rectangular in plan, the small cabin is topped with a pointy roof with a chimney-like protrusion containing a skylight. The building is elevated off the ground on four concrete piers, helping minimise its impact on the earth. Walls and flooring are made of cross-laminated timber… Read more