Despite fears that guns made with 3D printers will let criminals and terrorists easily make untraceable, undetectable plastic weapons at home, my own experience with 3D manufacturing quality control suggests that, at least for now, 3D-printed firearms may pose as much, or maybe even more, of a threat to the people who try to make and use them.
Everyone’s trying to get ready for roads that will be filled with more and more self-driving cars. But just as the first cars were imagined to be like horse-drawn carriages without the horses, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a future with self-driving cars won’t be that different — except that we won’t have to drive.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is getting a big boost to its performance. Unfortunately, for fans of ground-breaking physics, the whole thing has to be shut down for two years while the work is done. But once it’s back up and running, its enhanced capabilities will make it even more powerful.
Each time there’s a headline about driverless trucking technology, another piece is taken out of the old equation. First, an Uber/Otto truck’s safety driver went hands-off once the truck reached the highway (and said truck successfully delivered its valuable cargo of 50,000 beers). Then, Starsky Robotics announced its trucks would start making autonomous deliveries without a human in the vehicle at all.
Low energy efficiency is already a major problem for petrol and diesel vehicles. Typically, only 20% of the overall well-to-wheel energy is actually used to power these vehicles. The other 80% is lost through oil extraction, refinement, transport, evaporation, and engine heat. This low energy efficiency is the primary reason why fossil fuel vehicles are emissions-intensive, and relatively expensive to run.
As electric cars and trucks appear increasingly on U.S. highways, it raises the question: When will commercially viable electric vehicles take to the skies? There are a number of ambitious efforts to build electric-powered airplanes, including regional jets and planes that can cover longer distances. Electrification is starting to enable a type of air travel that many have been hoping for, but haven’t seen yet – a flying car.
Engineers have developed an electronic glove containing sensors that could one day give robot hands the sort of dexterity that humans take for granted.
For years, Elon Musk has talked about his plans to provide broadband internet access to the world using a constellation of satellites. Known as Starlink, this constellation was originally going to of nearly 12,000 low-cost satellites providing a terabit internet service. The first batch of these satellites is scheduled to launch in June of 2019, with the full constellation being deployed by the mid-2020s
The time has come again when many of us switch our clocks from summer or daylight-saving time back to winter time. And the usual confusion sets in, is it an hour forwards or back? Why do we need to change the time at all? Indeed, EU member states have been asked if they would like to simply skip daylight saving time.
The human desire to create ever bigger and more impressive structures is insatiable. The pyramids of Ancient Egypt, the Great Wall of China and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai – now the tallest edifice in the world at over 828 metres (2,722 ft) – are a consequence of pushing engineering to its limits. But huge buildings aren’t just monuments to human ambition: they might also hold the key to humanity’s progress in the space-faring age.
There are more mobile phones in the world than there are people. Nearly all of them are powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which are the single most important component enabling the portable electronics revolution of the past few decades. None of those devices would be attractive to users if they didn’t have enough power to last at least several hours, without being particularly heavy.
Almost all life on earth is based on DNA being copied, or replicated, and understanding how this process works could lead to a wide range of discoveries in biology and medicine. Now for the first time scientists have been able to watch individual steps in the replication of a single DNA molecule, with some surprising findings. For one thing, there’s a lot more randomness at work than has been thought.