Drive by Wire
The Dream Becomes an Incremental Reality
     The drive-by-wire concept calls for the transfer of the control of a vehicle from the driver to an automated system that controls the vehicle’s steering, engine throttle, and brakes.
     Today’s automotive engineers are now taking an incremental approach to turn new car safety technologies, over time, into an autonomous vehicle navigation drive-by-wire system.
How close are we now to the dream?
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Self-Healing Materials A New Material-Science Breakthrough
Today's construction materials corrode or just disintegrate over time. Infrastructure built with these materials eventually need repair or replacement.
New self-healing materials can repair their own structures without human intervention.
Electron Microscope Image
The Robotic Parking Garage
       This garage replaces ramps, driveways and parking attendants with a robotic system that squeezes 67 cars into an area that conventional parking could at best only fit 24. Your car is transported to its parking space by a multitasking robotic system that includes a great deal of redundant computer power to prevent accidents.
       The cars are stored two deep. If the car against the wall is the first one to be picked up, the robotic system jockeys the front car to another location to gain access to the buried car. The system even includes a rotating table that turns the vehicles around before they are lifted back up to the drop-off/pick-up point in the lobby of the garage.
"Cellular Aluminum"
Up until now, it was impossible to increase the energy absorption zones of a car without dramatically increasing the car’s weight. Metcomb Nanostructures, has made a metallurgic and manufacturing breakthrough that should soon revolutionize the way car crush zones are made.
 
 
When the company’s cellular aluminum is layered with other materials it not only absorbs the energy of car crashes, it can also absorb the energy of bullets and bombs while holding onto  their fragments.
"The SHIFT Bike"
Once the bike is in motion the section where the two rear wheels touch the ground move closer together transferring the balancing act from the bike to the rider. As the bike slows down the opening of these two rear wheels once again expands making it much easier for the new rider to learn how to safely stop the bike.
From Printed books to Digital
Searchable Files
A book to be scanned is first placed in the bed of the machine. When the machine is activated a set of vacuum fingers gently lifts and a machine arm turns the page. The arm carries the page over to the opposite side of the book to expose the next two pages for scanning.
"THUMS"
Engineers at Toyota Motors asked themselves this same question back in 1996. For the last eight years they have been quietly developing the technology that will eventually place most automobile industry test dummies on unemployment lines.
"Smart Windows"
The change in transparency of SPD glazing materials is a reaction to an electrical voltage change that affects suspended particles that are sandwiched in a middle layer of film in the glass.
"The Personal Airbag"
A vest that brings the safety net of an airbag to individuals exposed to dangers without the safety cage of a car or other vehicle.
Parachute Away (Full Plane Parachute)
In just one second this simple action would cause a solid fuel rocket to pull the parachute out from the mounting on the airplane's fuselage and carry the parachute at over 100 miles per hour to its opening position above the airplane.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
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Cambridge Crude
The MIT Liquid Fuel in a New Battery Architecture
TechDirections Magazine
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By Alan J. Pierce EdD
     The future automobile will run on electricity not gasoline! This could quickly happen if you could pull up with your EV to a "gas" pump to recharge your car with a liquid electric fuel.
     Cambridge Crude, the nickname of a new Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) liquid battery recharging system will let you do just that. This new liquid charge goes in as the old one goes out for re-charging by the fueling station; to be used over and over again.
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MIT "Engine"
Turns a Liquid into Electricity

By Alan J. Pierce EdD
TechDirections Magazine
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     The Friction-Stir Welding process welds metals without melting them. It works on metals including aluminum, a metal that cannot easily be joined using other metal fusion processes.
     NASA engineers have recently reengineered this technology so that it can now be used on materials that vary in thickness and even weld objects with very complex shapes.
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Friction-Stir Welding
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To Play on YouTube

By Alan J. Pierce EdD
TechDirections Magazine
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The flowing water in your home can be turned into electricity. With funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Rentricity is starting to prove that you can turn flowing drinking water into electricity. Their engineers are now installing new valve/generators that will use wasted pressure to generate electricity.
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Generating Electricity From Drinking Water
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By Alan J. Pierce EdD
TechDirections Magazine
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     From liftoff to landing,Curiosity flew 352 million miles in 245 days. Because of the
distance between planets, NASA Mission Control didn’t even know if the landing worked until Curiosity had been on the ground for seven minutes.
     The computer controlled landing depended on a computer program that contained half a million lines of code. Why and how this landing succeeded is covered in this column.
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The Curiosity Martian Landing
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Baxter the Unconventional Robot
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By Alan J. Pierce EdD
       Baxter the unconventional robot writes its own programming code. Baxter is a new type of robot, with toy-like features, that has been designed to work next to people.
     Baxter was created by Rodney Brooks the former director of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Before he established Rethink Robotics and created Baxter, he founded iRobot. A company that builds consumer robotic cleaning machines, military warrior bots, and rescue robots. Rodney Brooks is called the go-to guy for artificial intelligence, computer vision, and robotics.
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By Alan J. Pierce EdD
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     You learned in science that vulcanization is a process that changes the structure of rubber, making it indestructible. The Fraunhofer Institute of Germany and two American companies have demonstrated that they can turn old vulcanized rubber tires into a powder that can once again be bonded together by the heat and pressure of an extrusion machine or the injection molding process. The full story tells how they are now starting to turn old rubber particles into new high quality products.
Reversing the Vulcanization Process
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Reversing the Rubber Vulcanization Process
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By Alan J. Pierce EdD
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     The vision of a “paperless office” dates back to 1975 and the “paperless society” has been around since 1978.The same technology breakthroughs that ushered in the predictions that paper would become irrelevant to communication are now about to guarantee that paper will continue to play a significant role in electronic communication.
     In the future our society will depend on new paper products. The next generation of Electronic Circuits will be built on a paper substrate.
   The Paperless Office
+ Time                          
c
=s A Paperless Society?
or a shift to new Electronic circuits built on paper.
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By Alan J. Pierce EdD
     Today General Electric’s aviation division and NASA are both creating engine parts on a 3D-printer. Their industrial 3D-printing process is called Additive Manufacturing. It is a 3D printing machine on steroids. The parts that they are producing can handle 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Watch this NASA video.
     On the do it yourself side of 3D printing you can make just about anything even if you don't own a 3D printer. Read the full story to learn how. This technology is now being used to create tools, weapons, machine parts, and food. In high tech medical laboratories it is actually being used to create human tissues and organs for transplantation.
3D Printing on Steroids
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3D Printing
From the Simple to the Complex
NASA Testing 3D Printed Engine Combuster
Consumer Side of 3D Printing
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By Alan J. Pierce EdD
The modern elevator story began in 1852 with Elisha Otis’s invention of a safety mechanism that stopped elevators from falling. To take passengers on a half mile- high elevator ride in the Burj Khalifa skyscraper, the Otis Elevator Company had to build a lift system with a 100-ton capacity.

Without a major breakthrough, elevators have reached their height limits because longer cables will break under their own weight. At this time, the construction industry is evaluating KONE Ultra-Rope™ which is a carbon fiber replacement for the steel elevator skyscraper cables.
A Vertical Transportation Breakthrough
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A Vertical Transportation
Breakthrough
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Run YouTube Video
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Controlling Cybernetic Machines with the Human Mind
The first cybernetic people will only have  a few mind controlled parts. These parts will replace amputated arms, hands, or legs. People with these kinds of replacements are now common in Sci-Fi movies. This column explores how close we are to almost human androids and mind controlled cybernetic replacement parts for people.
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By Alan J. Pierce EdD
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Japan to Build an Orbiting Electricity-Generating Station
If we could effectively harness the energy from the sun, we could meet all of our energy needs without ever burning another drop of oil or coal. The technology that Japan is developing could change our world. The full story is as mind boggling as these photos. Click 4 Full Story
August Magazine Cover Story

By Alan J. Pierce EdD
The full story is as mind boggling as these photos.

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The New Tappan Zee Bridge
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     This new Tappan Zee Bridge is just beginning to rise from the water of the Hudson River. This column describes the engineering and construction technologies being used to build this new bridge. These bridges will withstand the forces of nature that are now slowly ripping apart the 60 year old Tappan Zee bridge that it will soon replace.
     To build a structurally sound bridge, this time, engineers needed to reach the bedrock which is 300 feet below the water and covered by hundreds of feet of silt. The new twin Bridges will have a  dampening system that will allow them to withstand the motion of an earthquake if, perhaps when, the Ramapo seismic zone decides to give them a major shake. The full story is fascinating.
The New Tappan Zee Bridge

By Alan J. Pierce EdD
Sky-High Elevators Without Cables
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     Modern elevators are pulled up and lowered down by very strong cables. To design and build a mile high building  you need to eliminate the current cable system because cables that long are too heavy.
     ThyssenKrupp engineers decided to get rid of the cable that lifts and lowers an elevator in its shaft. To accomplish this task they adapted the magnetic levitation system that they had designed to levitate their Transrapid high speed Maglev monorail trains. They repurposed this maglev system so it could work in an elevator shaft. For the complete story click the link below.
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By Alan J. Pierce EdD
By Alan J. Pierce EdD
pierceaj@techtoday.us
The Hybrid Commercial Jet Plane
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     Hybrid cars are now very common. The question becomes how soon will hybrid technology be adopted for commercial airplanes?  Engineers have already proven that the same benefits of hybrid car technology can be transformed so they can save fuel and maintenece costs on commercial airplanes. Before this technology can be fully adopted and find its way into the planes at your local airport they need to be fully tested.
     The A320 ATRA (Advanced Technology Research Aircraft), a DLR research airplane (See Photo 1) is now performing the test. The goal is to prove it is safe, efficient, and cost effective. If testing pans out and broad adoption takes place, eventually all new commercial jet planes could be categorized as hybrid vehicles. The full story is fascinating.
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The Laser Automobile Ignition System
By Alan J. Pierce EdD
     If we were to compare an automobile to a living organism, we might consider its spark plugs the source of energy that causes the heart of the engine to beat. The exploding air-gasoline mixture in the cylinders, which drives the car, can be compared to the pumping heart muscle that provides the energy needed for movement. Just as exercise can strengthen the heart of a living organism, a laser ignition plug that can simultaneously ignite the air-gas mixture in multiple locations would greatly improve the efficiency of the engine.
     Takunori Taira and his associates at Japan’s National Institute of Natural Sciences, working with Toyota Motors, Nippon Sokem Inc., and the Denso Corporation, have successfully built a fully functional laser ignition system. Their laser ignition plug is shown in Photo 1 and the test engine that they built is shown in Photo 2. They demonstrated the world’s first gasoline engine micro laser ignition car in 2013.
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Aviation Goes Hypersonic
Fly from New York City to London England in under an hour.
(4,562 Miles Per Hour)

    The speed of sound is called Mach 1 and equals 761.2 miles per hour. The fastest plane ever flown so far is the Lockheed Martin SR-71 Blackbird spy plane. It flew at Mach 3.5. The “Son of Blackbird is now under construction and it will fly at hypersonic speeds of Mach 6. This plane will have the same turbo-jet engine that powered the SR-7 and a ramjet engine to push propulsion up to Mach 6.
     At Mach 6 the SR-72 will cover one mile of ground per second of flight time. This is an amazing story of the future of flight and the full story is just one click away.
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By Alan J. Pierce EdD
  
At the Henn-na Hotel, if you want to be checked in by a robot you go to line 1, by an almost human you go to line 2, or by an alligator you go to line 3. (See Photo 1.)  This is the only hotel in the world fully staffed by robots and it is letting guests get a real peek at what an almost-human-intelligence robotic world might look like some day.

This hotel is located just outside the Huis Ten Bosch Amusement Park in Nagasaki, Japan. All the robotic systems of the hotel were created in Japan by the University of Tokyo, Institute of Industrial Science, and the Kajima Corporation.

A Hotel Staffed by Robots
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A Hotel Staffed by Robots
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Yesterday’s Science Fiction—Today’s Medical Breakthrough
By Alan J. Pierce EdD
     The movie prop that was attached to Luke Skywalker’s body, after his arm was cut off by Darth Vader in the Star Wars movie The Empire Strikes Back, was pure fiction when that movie was released back in 1980. What was once bioengineering fiction is today’s medical breakthrough.
     The DEKA Luke Arm (Photo 1) is FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approved. What makes this prosthetic so amazing is that its physical movements are controlled by its wearer’s mind, just like in the movie.
Once a Prop From Star Wars is Now
FDA Approved
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Reproduced with the permission of DEKA
Research & Development Corp.
    
     NASA’s Innovative Advances Concept Program funded research to develop a spacesuit that could deliver some form of gravity directly to the person wearing it. The idea is if you can’t bring gravity to the spaceship, perhaps you can bring the allusion of gravity to the astronaut. Sounds impossible, but collaborative efforts by engineers and technologists at Draper Laboratory Inc., MIT, and the David Clark Company have actually developed a spacesuit system that can provide an astronaut’s muscles and bones a simulated gravity.
A Space Suit
That Simulates Gravity
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A Space Suit That Simulates Gravity
By Alan J. Pierce EdD
Flying into Outer Space on Reusable Rockets
For space flight to become as common place as air travel, rocket ships need to become as reusable as airplanes. SpaceX and Blue Origin are now in a space race that is similar to the 1960’s US versus USSR (Russia) race to the moon. Both SpaceX and Blue Origin are developing reusable rockets that can use their engines to perform a controlled descent to a vertical landing at the same location that they originally blasted off into space. 

The Founders of these companies  have the same goal which is to develop a rocket system that is as reliable and reusabile as an airplane. Billionaire Elon Musk is the founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX and billionaire Jeff Bezos is the founder of Amazon.com and Blue Origin.
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Destination Mars (Published November 2016 in TechDirections Magazine)
The “World’s first crew to Mars is likely in middle school right now.”
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By Alan J. Pierce EdD

    Krista Alestock sent me a press release describing a Lockheed Martin contest that many teachers will want to enter.  This contest has large cash prizes.
     The Lockheed Martin Generation Beyond STEM Initiative, described in her press release, includes a challenge to create a very short video of a student designed “habitation module for the first crew to Mars".
    Lockheed Martin is the company that is building the Orion spacecraft that will eventually land astronauts on Mars. This column provides links to the contest and also describes the hardware and how soon NASA robots and astronauts will finally start to venture beyond the moon.
     This is a fascinating story and a contest that teachers will want to know about. Please forward to all teachers you feel will be interested in this subject.
Recent Material Science Breakthoughs
(Published March 2017 in TechDirections Magazine)
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Beta Titanium-3 gold   
A new alloy breakthrough has Gold increasing the hardness of titanium rather than titanium increasing the hardness of gold. Dr. Morosan and her team at Rice University created it.

Foam Graphene
Researchers at MIT, using a similar approach, created Foam Graphene which is 10 times stronger and10 times lighter than steel. How these researchers did their magic and the possible future uses of what they created is fascinating. Click the "MIT News" image to watch a YouTube Video on foam graphene.

Breakthrough Results
These research breakthroughs have sparked a race to find new materials by doing what the researchers at Rice and MIT did to alter certain conditions during the fabrication process. Simple processing steps were changed which had a magical effect on their raw ingredients.

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By Alan J. Pierce EdD
pierceaj@techtoday.us
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