2015 Detroit NAIAS Auto Show

Engineering

The Meccano Meccanoid G15 KS is compatible with standard Meccano parts

Meccano is one of those toys with a very strong nostalgia element, involving memories of hours spent bolting together a toy wheelbarrow or a coffee table-size Forth Bridge. But 21st century kids relate more to smartphones than traveling cranes, so Meccano has come up with its Meccanoid G15 KS – a kit robot that can be programmed using motion capture.  Read More

An experimental version of the zero-g espresso cup on the ISS (Image; NASA)

Space travel is a bit more civilized now that there's a bespoke Italian espresso machine aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Unfortunately, solving one problem just raises another and the astronauts are still having to drink their cappuccinos out of placcy bags. To help the zero-g coffee aficionado, Portland State University's (PSU) Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science has developed a microgravity espresso cup that drinks like its earthbound counterparts.  Read More

The Stanford material cools buildings by both reflecting sunlight and radiating interior h...

Keeping buildings cool isn't easy. In fact, conventional air conditioning methods are very energy intensive and account for up to 15 percent of the energy used in buildings in the United States alone. However, engineers at Stanford University have come up with a new ultrathin, multilayered, nanophotonic material that not only reflects heat away from buildings, but also directs heat from inside out into space, cooling both the building and the planet as well.  Read More

Squink is a miniature factory (Photo credit:Eric Mack/Gizmag.com)

When I saw BotFactory's Squink in action at MakerCon in New York last month, it was one of those innovations that took a few minutes to sink in. It looks like a modified 3D printer, but it does much more. In essence, it is a home factory in a single package.  Read More

Lockheed sees its compact fusion reactor as ready in 10 years

Fusion reactors are a bit like buses; you wait forever for one, then two come along at once. No sooner does the University of Washington announce that it’s working on a breakthrough compact fusion reactor (CFR) than Lockheed Martin says that its Revolutionary Technology Programs unit, AKA the Skunk Works, in Palmdale, California has one that could be ready for market within ten years.  Read More

The high powered engine is also designed to improve weight distribution between the front ...

The unveiling of a new four-banger engine wouldn’t normally garner much attention, but Volvo's High Performance Drive-E Powertrain Concept is an exception. The 2.0 liter, gas-powered unit features "triple boost" technology capable of generating no less than 450 hp.  Read More

The water runs through a piece of piping, which rests in a trench-shaped structure coated ...

Armed with plywood, a glass tube and some empty chip packets, mechanical engineering students from the University of Adelaide have developed a low-cost water purification system capable of killing off harmful bacteria. The solution is designed for remote communities in Papua New Guinea (PNG), an area where water is particularly susceptible to pathogen infestation.  Read More

The proposals are intended to produce new power sources, such as the fuel cell used in thi...

Once upon a time, energy systems for space missions were simple. You used batteries for very short missions, solar panels in the inner Solar System, nuclear power generators if you were beyond Mars or needed a lot of power, and fuel cells for manned spacecraft. However, as space exploration starts looking into lunar polar craters, comets, and the icy moons of Jupiter, new energy systems will be needed. To anticipate that need, NASA has made awards to four proposals to develop advanced energy storage technology for future manned and unmanned space missions..  Read More

The Stanford University system uses a glass layer patterned with micro-pyramids and cones ...

Photovoltaic cells are one of the more promising alternative energy sources. Mechanically they are very simple, with no moving parts, and are clean and emission-free. Unfortunately they are also inefficient. One of the reasons for this is that they overheat, a problem that a Stanford University team under electrical engineering professor Shanhui Fan is addressing with the development of a thin glass layer that makes solar cells self-cooling.  Read More

In the two hours of driving about the Bolognese countryside, the Huracán showed itself to ...

Having seen the sumptuous collection of angles and curves that is the Lamborghini Huracán in person during its North American debut a few months back, I can attest to its visual impact, so I was just slightly pleased to learn I’d be driving the 610 hp specimen out of Lamborghini’s headquarters in Sant’Agata this month. So what's it like to drive the new baby bull?  Read More

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