Category Archives: Transportation

Updates from Boeing

Boeing and subsidiary Liquid Robotics team up to explore deeper possibilities for autonomous systems
BY Dan Raley – Created by Boeing subsidiary Liquid Robotics, this maritime innovation known as the Wave Glider was originally intended to record the songs of migrating whales. When integrated with Boeing’s advanced sensors for defense applications, the Wave Glider can locate undersea vehicles at substantial distances, hunt for mines, monitor land radar, and gather and relay data to other systems, all while operating on solar and wave power for months at a time.

“It’s a hidden treasure,” said Jim Bray, Boeing autonomous systems technology integrator in St. Louis. “There’s a lot going on under the sea.”

Covered with fiberglass panels and small antennas topside and tethered to a wing-like propulsion system beneath it called a sub, the Wave Glider communicates by low-Earth-orbit satellite through a command-and-control unit and surface radio modem, similarly to someone sending a text message by smartphone.

“It’s revolutionary stuff,” said Scott Willcox, Liquid Robotics technology lead. “It’s like reinventing the sail — fundamentally, it’s a new way to get around the ocean. What you can do with it is almost limitless.”

In Ventura, Calif., in July, seven months after Boeing acquired Liquid Robotics, the companies teamed to test new Wave Glider capabilities in the ocean that would be presented to a customer for the first time. The testing demonstrated how transponders placed on the ocean floor by the Wave Glider conceivably could provide an oceanic GPS. An unmanned undersea vehicle in need of updating its location could use these underwater acoustics to determine where it is and never have to surface. more>

Humanity’s fight against climate change is failing. One technology can change that.

By Akshat Rathi – The optimism surrounding renewable energy masks some harsh realities. Despite decades of progress, about 80% of the world’s energy still comes from fossil fuels—the same as in the 1970s. Since then, we’ve kept adding renewable capacity, but it hasn’t outpaced the growth of the world’s population and its demand for energy.

Today, about 30% of total world energy (and 40% of the world’s electricity) is supplied by coal, which emits more carbon dioxide per unit of energy produced than nearly any other fuel source.

The hugely valuable oil and gas industries, accounting for 33% and 24% of total world energy use, respectively, are also entrenched. “Based on what we know now, we would need major technological breakthroughs or weak world growth, including for large emerging and developing economies, for oil demand to peak in the next 20 years,” says Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti of the International Monetary Fund. Despite the growth in electric vehicles, most oil companies agree that peak oil is “not in sight.”

If you’re still not convinced, consider this: there are a handful of industries essential to the modern way of life that generate large amounts of carbon dioxide as a side product of the chemistry of their manufacturing process. These carbon-intensive industries—including cement, steel, and ethanol—produce about 20% of all global emissions.

If we want to keep using these products and reach zero emissions, the only option is to have these industries deploy carbon capture. more>

Putting the Style in the Dial


By Caroline Hayes – In today’s vehicles, drivers access information for a variety of uses. This can be the distance and directions to points of interest or practical vehicle information, such as remaining fuel.

The analog displays of dial and needles are being replaced with a mix of analog and digital instrument clusters.

The digital display is being used in a similar way to how consumers use notebooks, tablets, and smartphones.

In the Automotive Display Market Tracker, Principal Analyst, IHS Markit, Stacy Wu, identifies a shift from center stack and rear seat entertainment, to safety system displays in instrument clusters as well as heads-up displays, where data is displayed in front of the driver. Sales of safety-critical display panels are expected to experience double digit growth through 2022.

This could be a boon for display manufacturers who are seeing sluggish sales in mobile devices. more>

Updates from GE

By Yari M. Bovalino – A few years ago, scientists working in GE labs in upstate New York came up with a cool idea for fixing broken parts. Literally. Calling the approach “cold spray,” they shot tiny metal grains from a supersonic nozzle at aircraft engine blades to add new material to them without changing their properties.

Anteneh Kebbede, manager of the Coatings and Surface Lab at the GE Global Research Center, who helped developed cold spray, said the technology can build whole new parts with walls as thick as 1 inch or more. “For manufacturers, the potential benefits are enormous,” Kebbede says. “Imagine being able to restore an aging part to its original condition with a tool that looks like a spray gun.” It is “like a fountain of youth for machine parts.”

GE engineers have already taken a dip. Earlier this year, engineers at the GE Aviation subsidiary Avio Aero started testing the technology in Bari, Italy. Last month they used it to repair the first part: a gearbox from the world’s most powerful jet engine, the GE90. more>

War once helped build nations, now it destroys them

BOOK REVIEW

Voices from Iraq, Author: Mark Kukis.

By Mark Kukis – Organized violence – the term war boils down to – has long been a unifier of peoples.

Orchestrating raids on neighboring Nubian settlements took coordination among villagers, as did fending them off. Attackers and defenders alike had to marshal resources, make plans and build trust among one another in order to fight effectively. Cooperation, mutual dependence, trust – even in killing others – are building blocks of political order, the foundational elements of states.

Since the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88), wars have tended to be mainly destructive forces for nations.

Countries amid the throes of war now seem to be breaking down rather than rising up. In countries today ranging from Libya to Myanmar, conflict is undermining governments, and threatening to undo nations much as strife tore apart the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. In Iraq, a war initially launched 14 years ago by the United States to save the country has gone on and on, and become a source of the nation’s internal decay.

Meanwhile, South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, is in a downward spiral of internal violence. The country won its independence from Sudan after more than two decades of fighting. Patterns in history suggest that South Sudan should have emerged from that ordeal unified despite the many challenges the country faced as a young nation. Instead, it essentially collapsed amid infighting upon independence, launching yet another war that has displaced more than 2 million of its 12.5 million people.

The experience of South Sudan is the new norm. more>

Updates from Boeing

Boeing’s robotic and human workers join up to start production of 777X jets
By Alan Boyle – The 777X is bigger than the 787 Dreamliner, but it picks up on a lot of the technologies pioneered by the smaller plane, ranging from wider windows to a common layout for the flight deck and the cargo handling system.

Boeing says it has improved the production process as well.

The 777X production process builds upon lessons learned from the 787 Dreamliner program, which has shifted Boeing toward greater automation and wider use of lightweight carbon fiber for components.

Boeing’s two 777X variants, the 777-8 and 777-9, are designed to carry between 350 and 425 passengers. That stretches well beyond the 396-seat capacity of Boeing’s biggest current-generation 777. The new jets are expected to be 20 percent more fuel-efficient as well.

The 777X’s 235-foot wingspan is so wide that each wingtip has an 11-foot-long section that’s built to fold upward, just in case extra clearance is needed at small airports.

The showcase for the upgraded production system is Boeing’s 1.3 million-square-foot Composite Wing Center, the billion-dollar facility where the carbon-fiber wing components for the 777X are being fabricated. more>

The Dos And Don’ts Of Building A Smart City

By Steve Olenski – It’s important to put context around the purpose and benefit of building a smart city. The bigger picture is the creation of the digital economy in which smart cities will operate and contribute. A digital economy essentially needs smart cities to truly thrive and fulfill its potential.

The Smart Cities Council says that a smart city “uses information and communications technology (ICT) to enhance its livability, workability, and sustainability” by “collecting, communicating, and crunching” data from all sources. Because the digital economy operates on data, it could benefit from having city functions move to that platform. more>

How Technology Is Driving Us Toward Peak Globalization

By Banning Garrett – New technologies are moving us toward “production-at-the-point-of-consumption” of energy, food, and products with reduced reliance on a global supply chain.

The trade of physical stuff has been central to globalization as we’ve known it. So, this declining movement of stuff may signal we are approaching “peak globalization.”

To be clear, even as the movement of stuff may slow, if not decline, the movement of people, information, data, and ideas around the world is growing exponentially and is likely to continue doing so for the foreseeable future.

Peak globalization may provide a pathway to preserving the best of globalization and global interconnectedness, enhancing economic and environmental sustainability, and empowering individuals and communities to strengthen democracy. more>

Updates from GE

This Big-Data Firm Wants To Stop Flight Delays And Other Maddening Airline Problems
By Maggie Sieger – More than 60 percent of frequent flyers cite delays among the things about air travel that they find most dismaying.

Most of those costs and all of the annoyance for the passengers on that flight from LaGuardia could have been avoided if the airline had been able to predict that the part was going to fail and prevent it from happening, says Karen Thomas of Teradata, a data and analytics company.

Commercial aviation today accumulates vast lakes of data each year, around 15 billion terabytes — a billion times the size of the Library of Congress. (One terabyte of data can hold 200,000 songs or 500 hours of movies.) Being able to fish out that data will open up untold avenues for problem solving. more>

Updates from GE

The Aviator: How A Young Pilot Became A Top-Flight 3D-Printing Engineer

By Maggie Sieger – At 15, Josh Mook got a job refueling planes and handling bags at a small airport near his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. He’d work eight hours a day after school, then blow his earnings every Saturday taking flying lessons. “I couldn’t even drive myself there,” Mook recalls. “But I was flying solo.”

Mook has been jetting into the unknown ever since. Originally considering a career in industrial design, Mook moved to aerospace engineering because it combined his love of flying with his love of math and science.

After graduating from Purdue University in 2005, he joined GE Aviation as an engineer at the GE unit’s headquarters in Cincinnati. His first big success came when he found a clever way to fix a blade durability problem in a jet engine high-pressure compressor.

Additive manufacturing methods like 3D printing build parts from the ground up, layer by layer, by fusing together metal powder or plastics. The technology is suitable for prototyping and custom production, but GE is also using it to make production parts that would be difficult to manufacture using traditional methods. more> https://goo.gl/psf2a9