Since 1950, approximately 8.3 billion metric tons of virgin plastics have been produced worldwide, the equivalent of 176 million big rigs.
Less than 20% of that plastic has been recycled or incinerated, leaving nearly 80% to accumulate in landfills or as litter in our natural environment.
Despite its significant contributions to innovation, the plastics industry has garnered increasing criticism over the years for its environmental impact. In a poll conducted by market research firm Morning Consult in 2018, a majority of people (55%) reported that they did not believe corporations were doing enough to reduce waste that could make it into the environment, and two-thirds of individuals (66%) reported that they would view companies more favorably if they implemented policies to reduce plastic waste.
So, why do we continue to use plastics in the first place?
Paul Benning, chief technologist for HP 3D Printing & Digital Manufacturing, believes we will begin to see automated assembly with industries seamlessly integrating multi-part assemblies including combinations of 3D printed metal and plastic parts.
“There’s not currently a super printer that can do all things intrinsically, like printing metal and plastic parts, due to factors such as processing temperatures,” Benning told Design News.
“However, as automation increases, there’s a vision from the industry for a more automated assembly setup where there is access to part production from both flavors of HP technology: Multi Jet Fusion and Metal Jet.”
At this year’s 2019 Design Automation Conference (DAC), Rich Valera from Needham and Company noted that since the collapse of the tech bubble in the early 2000’s, the EDA market has been all about consolidation.
“Many larger scale private companies, including multiple “near IPO’s” – e.g., Denali, Tensilica, Apache, and Spyglass (Atrenta), – have been bought before going public in the last 15+ years,” explained Valera. “It goes without saying that the EDA industry has become very concentrated, one could argue an oligopoly, with most of the revenue driven by 3 major companies.”
The last decade has seen an amazing advancement in embedded system development techniques, tools and technologies. A decade ago, I recall being amazed when a microcontroller had a clock speed above 48 MHz with an unbelievable 128 kilobytes for flash.
Today, we now have microcontrollers with clock speeds above 1 GHz with more than 4 megabytes for flash storage that makes even my first personal computer jealous.
Let’s examine two trends in embedded systems development that I believe will prove to be game changers in the 2020’s.
Trend #1 – The rise of python as a dominant language
Canada’s GBatteries is working on major obstacle for electric vehicles – charging times. Gas engine vehicles are way less green, but it certainly doesn’t take hours to fill your gas tank.
GBatteries is using a combination of software and hardware to drastically reduce vehicle charging times down to as fast as five minutes. Using hardware, along with AI that generates complex charging pulse profiles based on real-time monitoring and analysis of a battery’s internal state, GBatteries is developing a means of charging off-the-shelf lithium-ion batteries as quickly as filling up a tank of gas.
A resounding majority — 88% — of the 189 respondents to the survey believe telcos should not go down this particular diversification route, even though service providers are desperately seeking new revenue streams as voice revenues dry up, data revenues stagnate and capital/operating cost pressures increase.
DOD’s industrial base initiative targets semiconductor supply chain.
The U.S. military is again attempting to secure the nation’s semiconductor supply chain with a handful of industrial base initiatives that include a digital twin capability that used data-driven virtualization to validate the integrity of individual devices or an assembly of chips. That capability would in turn help secure devices incorporated into weapons.
Accidents will happen, but agreed-upon standards could go a long way toward building regulator and consumer confidence in robocars.
Robocars will not be accident-free.
For regulators who harbor hopes of fostering a future of autonomous vehicles (AVs), this is a political reality that’s likely to haunt them. For the public, it’s a psychologically untenable prospect, especially if a robocar happens to flatten a loved one.
From a technological standpoint, though, this inevitability is the starting point for engineers who want to develop safer AVs.