The routes of the future

By Catherine
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Written by Catherine Bolgar

There’s more to transportion innovation than self-driving electric vehicles.

From high-tech cycle lanes to supersonic space planes, the future of travel is on course for a design revolution. Start with the humble bike. With city cycling now all the rage, road infrastructure is set for some radical innovations. London-based architecture firms Foster + Partners and Exterior Architecture, for example, jointly proposed a bike deck, called SkyCycle, that would be built above 220 kilometers of existing rail tracks thereby connecting central London to the suburbs, and making it more attractive to live near a rail track.

“When we built the railways, they originally were designed for steam trains, with nearly flat grades,” says Huw Thomas, partner at Foster + Partners. “They were noisy and nobody liked living near them. They were lost in the urban fabric, but they go from the city’s edge to extraordinary nodes in the city center.”

More than four million people live within a 10-minute bike ride of SkyCycle’s proposed route, half of whom are commuters, Mr. Thomas says. SkyCycle would cost an estimated £6 billion ($9 billion) to £8 billion to build. The deck could integrate smart networks without streets having to be dug up. And it could even include a lane for roboticized package delivery.

Bikes themselves are also likely to undergo modernization. Lisbon-based designer David Miguel Moreira Gonçalves has developed two electric-assist bikes, the Grasshopper and the Cruiser, for use in Portugal’s hilly capital. “The Grasshopper is a foldable electric bike that can be used with a car or with public transportation,” he says. It can even be used at home to generate electricity by placing it on a stand and pedaling.

Every part of the bicycle’s life is justified,” he says.

But the idea for which Mr. Gonçalves has had most attention is his futuristic concept car, the Scarab, which won the 2010 Michelin Challenge Design. He wanted to create an electric vehicle that could use existing infrastructure and serve as either a personal car or shared transport. Driven by robotics, it would use facial-recognition software to identify and stop for specified passengers, while GPS and tracking would get them to their destination. It could even park vertically to save space. “It’s a very utopian idea,” he says.

Another idea, Next, envisages swarms of self-driving pods that link and delink on the move, while passengers can pass through interconnecting sliding doors to the specific pod that’s going their way. Meanwhile, Transport Systems Catapult is testing their own self-driving pods in Milton Keynes, U.K., with 40 expected to be in use by 2017.

At sea, Juliet Marine Systems Inc. of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in the U.S. has developed the high-speed Ghost, a small waterplane area twin-hull (SWATH) vessel. Using microbubbles and supercavitation, Ghost creates an air bubble around the hulls which reduces friction up to 900-fold, increasing speed, says Gregory Sancoff, president and chief executive of Juliet Marine.

Besides military applications, Ghost could have recreational or commercial uses. For example, Ghost’s stable technology might be ideal for high-speed ferries crossing the powerful Gulf Stream, Mr. Sancoff adds.

iStock_000005775678_SmallAir travel is also set to speed up, with a supersonic plane that could fly halfway around the world at Mach 5, powered by the revolutionary Sabre engine. The Sabre-powered Lapcat A2 concept, under development by Reaction Engines Ltd. of Abingdon, U.K., would fill the gap for supersonic passenger travel left by Concorde’s demise in 2003.

The Sabre engine can also power space vehicles, such as Skylon, a reusable space plane that could carry satellites into orbit or supply the International Space Station. “The approximately 100 space flights each year now cost $100 million to $200 million apiece, because the rockets are used only once,” says Richard Varvill, Reaction Engines’ technical director.

However, Sabre-powered launch vehicles like Skylon would cut current launch costs about 90%, he says. The U.K. government has pledged £60 million to develop the Sabre engine, alongside a £20 million investment from BAE Systems PLC, Mr. Varvill says.

Unlike the space shuttle, which launched vertically and included an orbiter with a large external fuel tank and two solid rocket boosters which dropped away, Skylon is designed to take off and land like a plane and be completely self-contained.

The Skylon could carry a 15-ton payload and could reach low Earth orbit in 15 to 20 minutes. “It will make getting into space cheaper and safer,” Mr. Varvill says.

 

 

Catherine Bolgar is a former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe. For more from Catherine Bolgar, contributors from the Economist Intelligence Unit along with industry experts, join the Future Realities discussion on LinkedIn.

Photos courtesy of iStock

Can We Trust the Internet of Things to Protect Us?

By Valerie C.
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Trust Internet of Things

Within the next decade the internet could connect as many as 200 billion things—and not just machines such as cars or household appliances, but anything that you can fit a chip or sensor into—including humans. These devices, collectively known as the Internet of Things, should make life simpler, even healthier, but can we trust them to look after us?

It’s 6 am on Monday 1 October 2025. The device on your wrist has sensed that you’re waking up so it sends a message to your coffee machine to start brewing. You delay the coffee and go for a run instead. While you’re pounding the pavement, the sensors in your earphones detect an irregular heartbeat. The device sends an ECG readout to a cardiologist. He sees that the arrhythmias are just harmless ectopic beats and decides to take no further action.

Back home, you have your well-earned coffee and put the empty cup in the dishwasher. The dishwasher is full, so it starts running. A sensor detects that the appliance is due for a service. It makes the appointment with an engineer and books a date in your diary, which you later confirm. A couple of decades ago, dishwashers were one of the biggest causes of house-fires, but not anymore. The internet of things (IoT)—devices connected to each other over the internet—has made the world infinitely safer. From self-driving cars to smart pills that measure our health from the inside, the internet in 2025 has become a custodian of our health and safety. But have we been wise to give the reigns of responsibility—that we once took hold of ourselves for things like driving or administering medicine—to a device?

Read the Full article to get the answer!

If you want to go further on the topic of the IoT, you can read “What’s next in the Internet of Things?.

3D Technology + Construction: A High-Value Partnership

By John S.
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World-leading, innovative technology is being used successfully to make the aerospace and other manufacturing industries more responsive to demand, dynamic in development and increasingly efficient in delivery. I would argue that the construction industry is crying out for this innovation to drive efficiency, generate sustainability, improve safety and reduce waste.

The techniques of Building Information Modeling (BIM), being applied in some areas of the industry, take us part-way but the full value has yet to be realized.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “The full value
of #BIM has yet to be realized”

The technology used by the aerospace industry embraces the full spectrum: from initial design, detailed 3D digital mock-ups, to testing and proving in the virtual digital world. The 3D model is reviewed, revised, redesigned and tested to destruction without injury or damage.

The same platform of collaborative data then tracks materials requirements and the manufacturing process, following the aircraft from assembly to sale and delivery. It integrates data across the lifecycle of the program, to generate efficiency, reduce cost, cut waste, increase sustainability, improve safety and create value.

Like an aircraft, a building is a system –  superstructure, foundations, air conditioning, useable spaces, arteries providing power, water, waste processing – a system for people.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “Like an aircraft,
a building is a system for people”

The building becomes more than concrete, steel, glass, bricks and mortar – it becomes a space for living, working or leisure, an intelligent space connected to other intelligent spaces – an intelligent system – an intelligent community.

This building, this intelligent space, lends itself to digital design, 3D digital mock-up, review and revision in the virtual world and the ongoing provision of through-life management.

It is a complex logistical system which is simplified, made efficient, given value and given life through data integration and collaboration.

Guggenheim MuseumFrank Gehry gave life to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao by approaching Dassault Systèmes to use its leading-edge technology from the aircraft industry to imagine and create the impossibly fluid lines of his building.

In the architect’s own words, this was transformational, and signaled a cultural change in modern architecture.

The building was completed on-time and well within budget, achieving financial savings of 18% in the process. That act would prove to be a game changer.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “The @MuseoGuggenheim was
completed on time with 18% financial savings”

The imaginative use of this technology has the potential to make buildings not only iconic and sympathetic with their place in the landscape, but to be intelligent, energy-efficient and sustainable. The manipulation of data enables the integration of retained, legacy buildings, harmonized sensitively with the new development to create places which are special; balancing the old with the new, seamlessly merging the ideas of yesterday with those of tomorrow.

This information provides the arteries which allow the dynamism of the construction provider to flow and the imagination of the client to be realized. It harnesses the desired outcomes of the client, the strength and capabilities of the construction industry, and the power of leading-edge technology, significantly improving the quality of sustainable construction and creating assets which are fit-for-purpose, environmentally sensitive and of lasting value.

Originally published: http://blogs.3ds.com/uk/3d-construction/

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Construction: a high-value partnership”


Related Resources:

AEC Industry Solutions from Dassault Systèmes

End-To-End Collaboration Enabled by BIM Level 3 [WHITEPAPER]



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