Engineering and technology has been advancing quickly over the last decade. The digital age has brought with it new avenues to explore and many different innovative inventions. Because of the staggering amount of development over the past few years, you may have not noticed some amazing technologies which have crept under the radar. In this article we will look at 6 of these lesser known, crazy technologies.
You may have already heard about the development of driverless cars – cars which drive themselves. What you might not know however is that there is currently a trial being undertaken in Singapore for the use of driverless taxis. The US start up developer of driverless car software, nuTonomy, is the company behind the scheme. It recently got permission form the Singapore government to test driverless taxis in a small area of town. Renault and Mitsubishi supply the small electric cars, equipped with nuTonomy’s cameras and software. The cars use a complex laser system, much the same as radar, which monitors the cars surroundings.
Rain on request
Long draughts throughout the world can be major problems to communities and nations alike. California for example can go through severe droughts, severely affecting the agriculture industry. Rain on Request is an innovative engineering solution to solve these problems. It uses a controlled electric field which influences local atmospheric conditions. Air ionisation leads to formation of nucleation centres which causes cloud development and henceforth rainfall. 79% of all rainfall falls on oceans, by using this rainfall water draughts can be mitigated and the need for other technologies, such as reverse osmosis for desalinisation, can fall.
The use of Ultrasound is commonplace in medicine, regularly used to check up on pregnancies or diagnose conditions. Getting an Ultrasound usually involves making a booking and going to the hospital, which can take a few weeks depending on how busy the hospital is. That can all change with the VScan, a portable, pocket-sized Ultrasound device. It allows doctors and other healthcare professionals to make a quick and easy physical exam. It weighs approximately 1kg and can scan within 2 minutes. Going forward it can truly revolutionise the ease of medical Ultrasounds.
The XOS 2 is a wearable exoskeleton developed by the US Company Raytheon which can significantly enhance a persons speed, strength, agility and endurance. The second-generation robotic suit is under development for US military applications. Through the use of engineering flexible hoses, high pressure hydraulics allow the wearer to lift heavy objects at a ratio of 17:1, representing the actual weight of the object to what the wearer perceives as the weight of the object. In other words, the wearer will be able to lift objects weighing 17 times more than what they could lift without the suit. It also allows people to repeatedly lift and transport heavy objects without exhaustion or injury.
The Nano Quadrotor
Drones have been fairly prevalent in the last few years. These radio controlled robots can zip around cities and countryside’s alike. The nano quadrotor Is like a much much smaller drone. This tiny robot is programmed to perform multiple tasks. They are 20cm in diameter and weigh 57 grams, using 15 watts to fly around using 4 tiny rotors. The nano quadrotors were developed by engineering personnel at the University of Pennsylvania’s General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) laboratory. The tiny robots fly in flocks and are incredibly agile, with the ability to flip and dodge obstacles, fly through tight corridors and move at a frightening pace.
The US company, Modumetal, has developed a way of processing steel which dramatically improves its strength, corrosion resistance and high temperature performance. The process controls the performance of the metal surfaces at the nanoscale. It involves an advanced form of electroplating. This process involves immersing a metal part in chemicals containing metal ions and applying an electrical current. The ions form a metal coating on the part. Modumetal perform this process a little differently however, using a chemical bath with several different metal ions and carefully controlling the electric current so several layers can form, up to a few nanometers thick. These nano-engineered layers can lead to stronger materials which stop cracks moving through them.
The use of hover boards have ignited our imagination since Back to the Future came out in 1985. After years of fruitless endeavour, we have finally found the answer. The Mag Surf – a superconductor skateboard developed by French researches, where superconductor magnetic levitation moves the board around a track. As the board travels a predetermined track, super cold liquid nitrogen pumps round the board. This makes the metal material on the bottom of the board a superconductor, magnetically repelling the magnetic field on the track.