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Chargeable Roads – Expanding the Use of Electronic Vehicles

Many countries are opting to use sustainable methods of public transport, such as electric vehicles, to create a safer, healthier environment for their citizens. There are disadvantages of their use, however, such as the large batteries that are needed for their operation and the need to plug them in at charging stations. To avoid these inconveniences, the Israeli government is collaborating with ElectRoad to install roads which will charge electric buses on their journey, starting with one of Tel Aviv’s current bus routes.

https://www.electroad.me/

ElectRoad is proposing to create a wireless system which will be economic enough to be adapted for cities worldwide. The company has no doubts that their ‘inductive charging’ technology is completely cost effective and allows buses to carry light, inexpensive batteries instead of the heavy ones currently equipping them. The buses will also be charged while on the go, eliminating the need for stationary periods to recharge. Once installed the infrastructure will be able to charge any vehicle which has a compatible battery.

The company demonstrated the technology at their headquarters in Caesarea, winning a $12,000 grant from Israel’s Ministry of Transport and Road Safety to help fund the installation of the new road. The route will be approximately 1/2 a mile in length and is expected to open in 2018. If it proves to be a worthwhile investment, the Israeli government plans to expand on the use of this technology. Other countries, including South Korea, have already installed several wireless bus routes. ElectRoad believes that their option is more affordable on a large scale, however, because of the cheaper transformers which are required and the shorter, more efficient installation process.

Induction charging is a process which has been used to create power sources since the 1890s and involves the creation of energy from the interaction of two electromagnetic fields. This will be the first time the technology will be applied to an item as large as a bus. Plates of copper will be embedded into the roads, which will be supplied with power from inverters placed along the sides. Copper plates will also be installed on the underside of the buses, allowing the two fields to interact as the buses drive over. The technology can be installed into existing roads with minor disruptions, and the buses will be able to travel off the charging road for about three miles. Each vehicle will be required to have a small battery onboard to facilitate acceleration, as well as travel outside the charging zone.

There are several disadvantages which have been raised about the installation of these roads, however, which ElectRoad are confident they will be able to overcome. This includes the fact that the buses might stray from the main strip or become misaligned. The batteries for electric vehicles are also becoming cheaper, lighter and more efficient. The company acknowledges that the prices of batteries have fallen significantly but also claim that their technology is to be used for citywide infrastructure on larger scales, and they remain optimistic about its expansion.

FCX-001 – Bell Helicopter’s Futuristic Flying Machine

Bell’s Helicopter unveiled their latest flying vehicle in March 2017 at the Heli-Expo in Dallas, Texas. Known as the FCX-001, it includes the latest advancements in flight technology. The advanced airframe design is constructed from sustainable materials, which will provide increased structural performance and can be adapted to suit different clients. They will also provide enhanced visibility, as well as a larger area for those that occupy the helicopter. The vehicle’s frame is its frontline for energy management where external energy, or unused system energy, is harvested, stored and distributed.

The FCX-001 is set to run on hybrid power, which will combine thermal engine cores with electric distribution and motors to drive the anti-torque system. This will allow for better control, simpler operations and less maintenance. In addition, the system’s flight control is operated via three separate and independent computers. During a journey, the system evaluates and calculates the optimal method to process the digital orders that the pilot has provided. This ensures that the aircraft will not be compromised during flight, and is supported by extra redundancy. The anti-torque system within the aircraft, is also designed to improve safety conditions, and monitor noise levels and performance parameters. It is embedded in the tail boom, and uses thrust vectoring control capability.

Image: Bell Helicopter

The company has been researching ways of applying morphing technology to different areas of flight, for an extended period. In the FCX-001, the morphing rotor blades have been designed so that the aircraft will be able to optimise its performance under different flight conditions. Individual morphing technologies were applied such as blades, inlets and aerodynamic surfaces, through advanced actuation, materials or a combination of both. The helicopter also has futuristic landing gear on board, which has been designed using non-traditional geometric structures. This will combine with its advanced building material to facilitate an increased function. The use of actuation was also applied to improve the vehicle’s manoeuvring capabilities, as well as absorb the landing energy for improved safety and comfort in ground operations.

Another area that the company focused on when designing the FCX-001 was the gradual transition to autonomous vehicles that is currently taking place. The cockpit is equipped with a single pilot seat, and the Multi Functional Display removed to enhance the pilot’s visibility during flights. The aircraft will be controlled using augmented reality and an artificial intelligence computer system. The pilot will be able to control the vehicle’s safety and the direction of the mission, while the computer operates as a co-pilot. This is a necessary step in moving over to include a fully autonomous pilot system in these aircrafts. As well as the pilot’s area, the cabin is enhanced with a flooring system which allows for seating changes to accommodate various passengers or cargo. It also contains fully customisable LED lighting and pop-down air ventilation systems, which will help to increase passengers’ comfort.

Cryogenics – Re-establishing Life After Death

The human body is capable of amazing things, such as healing broken bones and regenerating cells. Regardless of our regenerative abilities we are still unable to avoid death, and there are many people who would like to prolong their lives. For this reason they are preserving their body in liquid nitrogen, in a process called cryogenics, with the hope that science will soon be advanced enough to give them new life. Even though cryogenic freezing is only possible after a person has been declared legally dead, people with diseases which cause their death are also opting to be frozen, believing that they can be resurrected after a cure has been found.

The process of freezing the body begins as soon as possible after death to minimize potential brain damage. It is first cooled in an ice bath to gradually reduce its temperature, and in some cases CPR may be administered to prevent the death of brain cells. The blood is then drained from the person’s system and replaced with an anti-freeze fluid, to prevent harmful crystals from forming within the blood. After this initial process, it is packed in ice and transferred to a holding facility in either the United States or Russia.

Upon arrival, the body is put in an arctic freezing bag to be cooled by nitrogen gas to -196 C over a period of two days. Each one is then transferred to a storage facility, known as a ’patient care bay,’ where it remains suspended in liquid nitrogen until it will be time to resurrect it. The process can also be performed by removing the head and freezing it without the body. This is known as neuro-cryopreservation and is done in the expectation that a new body can be cloned, to attach the head to, when the technology becomes available.

Acclaimed neuroscientist, Dr. Sergio Canavero, has recently announced that the world’s first human head transplant will be attempted within the next 10 months. The operation will take place on a Chinese citizen, in Harbin, China, who will be the recipient of a donor body. Its success will also lead to even greater advances, as the team will then attempt to reawaken the first frozen head. Canavero will remove the brain from a cryogenically frozen head and transplant it in a donor body, resulting in the first technologically assisted human resurrection.

There have been no documented experiments to date, in which a mammalian brain has been re-awakened after being frozen in liquid nitrogen. This means that scientists are unsure of the possible complications that may occur. Irreversible damage may have occurred during the freezing process, and upon awakening the individual may display decreased mental facilities or great emotional trauma. In addition to possible complications, the success of the reawakening will answer other questions such as what really happens after death and how well the process of cryogenics really works.

The Future of Factory Robots – Decreasing Cost while Increasing Efficiency

The use of robots in their production line has been proving to be remarkably profitable for many businesses. One of the reasons for this is because it immediately decreases one of their largest regular pay-outs, labor costs. This means that factories, and other businesses with many employees, have increased their use of automation by adding robots to their labor force. The machines have also proven to be significantly more efficient than human labor. Instrumental in this change are many Chinese companies, which are responsible for a large part of the world’s production. As a result, they have been investing significantly in finding mechanical forces that will decrease the cost of labor, as well as continue to boost productivity levels.

Shentong Express, a large-scale shipping company, has cut its labor costs in half by making sorting robots a permanent part of its labor force. The robots are made by Hikvision, and are responsible for sorting parcels as they transition through the system. Each machine can sort at least 200,000 parcels per day and, since they are self-charging, can work around the clock. This has also facilitated an improvement in the company’s efficiency by 30%, as well as increasing the accuracy of sorting. Even though the robots are currently only a part of the work force in two of the company’s Hangzhou branches, there are plans to expand their use to all their largest branches.

In 2016, the output using industrial robots increased by over 30%, fuelling the shift from human work forces to automated ones. Another Chinese company, Changying Precision Technology, which manufactures mobile phones, automated 90% of their work force. This meant that 650 human workers were replaced with 60 robots, across 10 production lines. The company’s productivity has subsequently increased by 250%, and defective products decreased by 80%. These results have caused China to develop a long-term plan which involves using robots as a significant part of their labor force, increasing their number to 100,000 by 2020.

Even though large-scale businesses embrace these changes, many individuals are worried about the considerable number of people that will lose their jobs due to increased levels of automation and technological advancements. It is estimated that within the next 20 years, 137 million workers in five Southeast Asian countries will be replaced with robots or other automated systems.

There are other changes that automation will bring to business worldwide. Many companies in first world countries have previously outsourced their production, to others that are less developed with low cost labor forces. Automation means that production can be transferred to the home country, since labor costs would now be at a minimum. This would have detrimental effect on the economy of many third world countries.

Internationally, the use of automated services must be embraced, without taking things to the extreme. Viable solutions will also need to be found to control the expected rise in the unemployment rate. One suggestion is to have a universal basic income, which would expand economies and limit unemployment.

Tesla Model 3 – Safe, Autonomous Electric Vehicle

Editorial credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

More than 400, 000 people have signed up to be eligible to pre-order the Tesla Model 3. This demonstrates how highly anticipated its release has been. Company CEO, Elon Musk, has recently announced that the car will finally become available on the market, in July of this year. Tesla Inc. has been incredibly successful with its production of electric vehicles and the company continues to forge a path towards a ‘solar electric economy,’ by manufacturing products that operate exclusively on sustainable energy sources.

Tesla Inc. unveiled its first electric sedan, Model S, in 2009. Musk describes the Model 3 as ‘a smaller, more affordable version of Model S, with less range and power and fewer features.’ Even though Model S is equipped with more technology, Model 3 is the first step towards fulfilling Tesla’s mission of making their electric vehicles more affordable.

In 2014, Tesla constructed their Gigafactory which allowed them to begin manufacturing batteries which were up to the 30% cheaper. This helped them to develop the Model 3 at a lower price, than previous products. It has also been easier to manufacture than other Tesla models which are more high-end cars. The vehicle is expected to enter the market at a price of $35,000 before tax incentives, and will have a range of at least 215 miles (346 kilometres) per charge. Tesla has set high production targets in response to the public enthusiastic reception of the Model 3. They plan to produce 500, 000 cars per year by 2018, doubling this to 1 million in 2020.

Previously unused technology has been applied to the vehicle’s design and manufacturing process, but Musk says consumers are unlikely to notice the changes. In 2014, Tesla introduced their semi-autonomous driving system, Autopilot, which will also be included in the Model 3’s features. Self-driving vehicles increase road safety, and Tesla has plans to include this it in all their productions. Due to its Autopilot capabilities, the Model 3 will be equipped with a single dashboard, since the driver will need to view less information.

In response to consumers’ questions about the vehicle’s size, Musk has said that a large cooler can fit in its trunk. It also has a shorter wheelbase which can only accommodate a 75-kilowatt battery-pack. Even so, its range is still comparable to the Chevy Bolt EV, which can travel up to 238 miles on a single charge.

Tesla plans to release other versions of the Model 3, including a ‘performance’ model which will be able to accelerate faster than the original as well as a four-wheel drive (dual motor) option. The company has postponed the introduction of other versions until after the original has been released, to minimise the product’s initial complexity. Tesla has estimated that the other types of Model 3 will be available between six and nine months after the original. The right-handed version (for countries that drive on the left) is expected for release in summer 2018.

Science and Disease – Curing Diabetes with a Pill

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder that develops when the body becomes unable to process insulin correctly. Insulin is the hormone that is responsible for regulating the amount of sugar in our bloodstream. In the first stages of the disease, the body overproduces the hormone in an attempt to regulate the system. After a while the receptors will burn out and stop producing the insulin altogether.

People develop diabetes based on genetics, as well as lifestyle factors, that affect the way that their system functions. It is most common in those that are middle aged, or older, and medical practitioners believe that almost 1/3 of the population will develop type 2 diabetes due to poor eating habits and a lack of exercise. Medications currently used to treat diabetes, filter the excess glucose produced from the bloodstream. Top medical doctors, and nutritionists, believe that Type 2 diabetes is completely reversible, however, and scientists are trying to find an easy, reliable method of doing this.

A team of researchers from the University of California, have recently developed a drug which can restore insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes. It would be administered via a single pill taken daily, and works by inhibiting LMPTP (low molecular weight protein tyrosine phosphatase) which contributes to the reduction in cell sensitivity to insulin. Decreasing the amount of the enzyme in the body, causes the cells (especially those in the liver), to become receptive to insulin once again. This then restores the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, ultimately reversing the condition.

The researchers used lab mice to conduct their experiment. The rodents were initially fed a high-fat diet, causing them to become obese and subsequently develop high blood glucose levels. After this they received a dose of the drug daily, and their insulin levels were successfully restored. Researchers did not notice any adverse side effects develop from the use of the medication. Further tests will still need to be conducted to ensure that the drug is completely safe for human use. The team, however, are confident that it will be a huge step in reversing diabetes by simply taking a pill.

The concept of reversing diabetes is not a new one, and has previously been achieved using a combination of drugs, a strict diet and a regular exercise regime. Scientists at Cornell University have also found that probiotic pills, containing live bacteria, can help reverse the effects of Type 2 diabetes by ‘rewiring’ the body. The probiotic pill was also tested on rodents, and managed to shift the control of the body’s blood sugar levels from the pancreas (which normally controls glucose levels within the body) to the upper intestine. By shifting where the blood sugar levels are controlled, scientists found that the animals’ insulin levels increased by up to 30%. They believe that a higher dose of this probiotic pill may become a cure for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.