Google’s driverless car

For those of you who love science fiction movies like me, I have great news for you; the future is becoming more realistic as every minute passes by. Not long ago, I was in the theater watching Will Smith in IRobot talk to his car and tell it to go places without even putting his hands on the wheel. I’ve always thought Hollywood had much exaggerated its depiction of the future, although Google’s new technology is in the process of proving me wrong.

Google has started as an American web search engine and progressed into making mobile software, and now it’s investing to create new technology for the Transportation industry. According to latimesblogs.latimes.com, “Thrun is a Stanford University robotics professor and a project leader on Google’s Driverless Car effort — a system that enables cars to drive on their own, safely, without human input. So far, Google’s driverless cars have safely logged more than 140,000 miles on California roads.” “While Thrun’s contributions to the Google project are personally motivated, the engineer believes that the technology can eradicate traffic jams and curb fuel consumption, as well as save humans now-wasted time and prevent needless deaths.”

According to slashgear.com, “the first step in the process is navigation, something that requires a little more than the Google Maps Navigation functionality on display in Android.” “Once the passengers are set, the car loads up information created by one of Google’s massive data processing centers into the local computer. The remote computers map the route and the local computer continually processes data from the car’s sensors, including a standard GPS sensor, a powerful laser array for “seeing” obstacles, and small radar arrays mounted around the side of the vehicle.”

“The laser mounted on top of the spoiler is probably the most crucial element for its close-range operation: it creates a three-dimensional image of everything in the immediate area of about 50 feet. The laser compares the immediate surroundings of the car to the measurements taken by the previous manual run, paying special attention to moving objects and taking extra input from a wheel encoder. This allows for much more precise movement than GPS alone, keeping the car on a route accurate to a few centimeters when compared with the previously gathered data.”

“The laser can differentiate between other cars, pedestrians, and small and large stationary objects, and it doesn’t need light to function. The radar arrays keep an eye any fast-moving objects from farther out than the laser can detect. The front-mounted camera handles all traffic controls, observing road signs and stoplights for the same information that a human driver uses. Google’s computers combine data from the laser and the camera to create a rudimentary 3D model of the immediate area, noting for example the color of an active traffic light.”

According to sfgate.com, “California has become the third state to affirm the legality of driverless vehicles, setting the stage for computers to take the wheel along the state’s roads and highways – at least eventually. Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed SB1298, which makes so-called autonomous vehicles legal in California.”

watch?v=bp9KBrH8H04

So now that we have driverless cars, what’s next America?

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The Fastest Passenger Airliner in the World

Looking at my recent blog entries, I have been focusing on technology nowadays and how its rapid progression is affecting our everyday lives. In this age, we always look forward to new products and creations mostly to satisfy our sense of curiosity and compete with each other over different levels of discoveries. Although, what if I told you that technology is not always moving forward, in fact, know this, technology progress in general moves forward and backward in a very confusing way. For example, how many times you heard this on the news, “Ford and Chevrolet made cars in the 60’s and 70’s that were better and more reliable than their current models today.” This might sound strange and unreasonable to you, but it’s completely true. In this blog entry, I will tell you about a great creation that moved a whole industry forward, but was put to sleep about a decade ago, which caused the transportation industry to go back to formal traditional ways.

I’m talking about the Concorde, the only passenger airliner plane that was capable of traveling on heights above 60000 ft. and cruise at speeds twice faster than the speed of sound. According to simviation.com, “the world’s only supersonic airliner, Concorde operated daily between Paris and London to the USA, carrying 128 passengers at a speed of over 1300mph over a maximum range of 3915 miles.”

It first began service in 1976 after a long development and building period with British Airways & Air France. 18 Concords were built of which 14 went into service. With its unique appearance, its long ogive shaped wing and sleek body and drop down nose for landing and ground handling, few can help to admire the beauty of this legendary aircraft nor mistake it for any other.

The genius build of this airplane shocked many engineers, and many were sad to see it go, so here is what some said. According to Bruno Maddox, “the Concorde, R.I.P. with the retirement this month of the best plane ever, mankind takes a giant step backward. Welcome to the subsonic era.” The Concorde was retired due to many reasons, which the company kept secret. Most media reported that the Concord’s outrageous speed was too dangerous for many senior passengers, although this was not the whole truth; the company in fact was spending too much money on the maintenance of its small fleet, compared to other bigger companies.

 

Now, almost a decade after the concord’s retirement, the dream is not dead, because powerful countries like the U.S. still hope to enter the competition. According to CNN.com, “the dream of supersonic flight has not disappeared. Aviation manufacturers such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Aerion are working on supersonic technology — with the latter predicting it could have a supersonic business jet in service as early as 2020.” According to dailymail.co.uk, U.S. builders – helped by the NASA space agency – will reveal the prototype successors to Concorde at the Farnborough air show next month.”

Air travel is the safest and most used form of transportation worldwide. Therefore, the transportation industry cannot afford to lose progress for profit.

 

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The Fastest Helicopter in the World

Every week I present to you a unique invention that has carved its mark in the book of speed and engineering records. It’s magnificent how technology is moving forward nowadays; especially when something new comes out. Engineers invent new creations, and by the time the news makes it to the media, other competitors have already made something better; although, that is not necessarily a bad thing because competition brings out the best in people. Therefore, let me introduce to you a new man-made craft for this week.

It is the X2 helicopter, one of the fastest helicopters ever build. According to wired.com, “the X2, a record-setting helicopter that can fly at more than 300 mph. It is a remarkable, even revolutionary, machine, with two main rotors stacked one atop the other and a pusher propeller on the tail. The combination makes the X2 as fast as it is nimble.” The X2 is “extremely responsive” to the slightest touch on the controls and trickier to fly due to its two world-shattering rotors. The X2 crushed all kind of records and numbers, according to spectrum.ieee.org, “the official speed record for helicopters was set in 1986, at 249 miles an hour. But the unofficial record belongs to a new type of helicopter, the X2, from Sikorsky Aircraft. In 2010, it exceeded 300 miles an hour.”

The X2 is not a normal helicopter, and its secret rests in its engineering and magnificent technology, according to defensereview.com, the X2 utilizes two rigid counter-rotating main rotors (the “coaxial” part). The “compound” part is provided by the X2′s pusher propeller, which provides a significant amount of forward thrust. The Sikorsky X2 compound helicopter technology demonstrator aircraft arguably represents the closest to a high-speed compound helicopter that has come into production by the United States in a long time. According to sikorsky.com, “these technologies include an integrated Fly-by-Wire system that allows the engine/rotor/proposer system to operate efficiently, with full control of rotor rpm throughout the flight envelope, high lift-to-drag rigid blades, low drag hub fairings, and Active Vibration Control. In addition, the aircraft was used as a ‘flying wind tunnel’ to determine the main rotor to proposer aerodynamic interaction, shaft angle optimization for performance, and blade tip clearance for a range of maneuvers.”

Ironically enough, Russia as usual, has kept its eyes on the X2 project and according to flightglobal.com; Russia looks set to join Euro copter and Sikorsky in the race to commercialize a high-speed helicopter, with the allocation of Rb3.6billion ($1.3 billion) in government cash to support development of concepts by Russian Helicopters’ Kamov and Mil design bureaux.

Now retired from flight, the X2 is headed to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Obviously, this helicopter contains brilliant technology and fine engineering, but honestly, I think the success behind these kinds of projects is not the technology or the computers on board, but it’s the ambition those men had when they decided to build it.

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The Fastest and Most powerful Submarine in the World

Progression in technology is moving at the speed of sound, especially in warfare equipment and weapons. No longer nations like the U.S. and Russia dominate the national stage, as more and more countries are ambitious to advance their militaries and national defense systems. China, India and Iran are great examples of such countries that are successful in building their military thus far. An extremely important sector of any military is the navy, mostly due to our globe’s surface being nearly three-quarters of ocean waters. Most people think of the navy as war ships and aircraft carriers, and make the mistake of forgetting the most important weapon the navy has; and that is the Submarine. The Germans in WWI first used submarines and they called them U boats. U boats proved their effectiveness due to the huge advantage they gained on the enemies sneaking from under water. Today, I will introduce to you the fastest and most powerful submarine ever build.

It is the Soviet Submarine K-222 launched by the Soviet Union in the cold war era around 1968. According to Russia2all .com, “Soviet submarine K-162 was the only vessel of the Soviet Union’s Project 661 An-char nuclear-powered attack submarine design, best known in the West by its NATO reporting name Papa class. K-162, which was renamed K-222 in 1978.”

“The Papa class was designed as an extremely fast attack submarine equipped with anti-ship cruise missiles. Its design included ten SS-N-9 missiles in individual tubes forward of the sail, between the inner and outer hulls which were of titanium alloy. It is regarded as a predecessor to the Alfa class submarine, and the single submarine of the Papa class may have tested technologies, which were later used in the Alfa class.”

According to music.us, “K-222 was laid down on December 28, 1963, and commissioned on December 31, 1969, at Severodvinsk. It was assigned to the Soviet Northern Fleet for the duration of its career. It was the world’s fastest submarine, reaching a record speed of 44.7 knots (82.8 km/h) on trials. However, that speed came at the price of high costs during construction, and both excessive noise and significant damage to hull features when used.”

Video for more information.

This magnificent and powerful weapon owned by the Soviet Union played a huge role in the cold-war propaganda here in the U.S. Americans really feared communism in the 1970s and 80’s and the American government had its eye on that submarine at all times. According to naval-technology.com, the U.S. navy had put together a class of powerful nuclear submarines to match the Russian fleet of K-222s. “The United States Navy has 51 nuclear powered Los Angeles Class submarines. The first was commissioned in 1976 and the latest of the class, the USS Cheyenne, was commissioned in 1996. Los Angeles Class submarines built since 1982 are equipped with a vertical launch missile system with twelve launch tubes. The submarine is fitted with a Raytheon CCS Mark 2 combat data system.”

The U.S. navy was able to catch up with the Russians, although the Los Angeles class of Submarines never did match the speed of the K-222, as its extreme top speed is only 30 knots.

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Honda’s Most Advanced Motorcycle

The automobile industry has been very competitive since the beginning of automobile manufacturing in the late 1800’s. Many companies have worked their way to the top and stayed on the top due to their quality in engineering and certain successful marketing strategies. One of my favorite companies is Honda, mostly because of its consistent reliability and advanced technology especially in mastering its luxury brand, Acura. According to autos.aol.com, Honda has worked its way to be one of the most successful companies in the world, due to its ambition and determination to manufacture all kind of auto’s, not to mention it competitiveness in the U.S market as a Japanese company. I’m not going to focus on neither the company’s history nor its success in the industry; instead I just want to emphasize how Honda introduces new products to the market and talk about those products.

Marketing is extremely important to every company regardless of what that company is making. So Honda has a very practical marketing strategy, and that is introducing the product to the market as a concept for the first three to eight years before starting the actual manufacturing. In this eight-year window, Honda will listen to critics and read all kind of reviews from certain denigrators and try to fix all dissatisfactions before starting the line for that particular product.

Today, the product to discuss is the new CB 750 sports motorcycle concept first introduced by Honda in 2009 and will begin production in 2015. According to diseno-art.com, “The 2015 Honda CB750 concept was created independently of Honda by designer Igor Chak.” The CB750 concept utilizes an advanced monologue construction, which consists of carbon fiber, aluminum and titanium. The result would be a rigid structure, which is both light and incredibly strong. Located low down in the frame is the 750 cc, four-cylinder engine that is fueled by liquid hydrogen. This is connected to a six speed dual-clutch transmission, and the bike also features launch and traction control.

According to yankodesign.com, “This 2015 Honda CB 750 is a predecessor to the 1970s-80s CB (pictured below.) It’s basically exactly the same, as you can see, except it has some computers on it. Computers! Controlling the tuning. Is that madness? What else we got here…. Front and rear electro-magnetic suspension adjusted, you guessed it; electronically. Sensors show readouts updating every 1/10 a second and can adjust everything on-the-fly. ABS, airbag, and steering damper. Rims designed to be sleek and aerodynamic. Radar technology to “sense an upcoming head-on collision and will automatically slow the bike.”

According to autoevolution.com, “the on-board computer can be controlled through a 5” OLED multi-touch display positioned right on the fuel tank. There are three menus available: GPS, Drive modes and diagnostics.”

Sounds to me like this motorcycle is coming from the future, and I’m extremely excited if not astonished by the technology of this amazing machine. Honda has been receiving some criticism from many sources. First, many Japanese people are unhappy that the bike will first be introduces to the U.S market; Also J.D. Power and Associates criticized Honda for some exaggerated claims, although Honda assured that the bike would surprise everyone in 2015.

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Fastest Space Shuttle in the World

Technological progress is something expected now days, and humans have developed a sort of a common routine sense to see discoveries and explorations being reported on T.V. or written about in the newspaper. Some are reported on more than the others, but space technology always seems to have a greater deal of attention from the American public, mostly because of the success NASA had in exploring space. Every time I read about a new space shuttle being sent to space by NASA or any other space agency in the world, I watch attentively and pay attention to all the details in order to stay up to date on the progress their making. The reason I pay so much attention is because many people don’t realize how hard it is to make a machine so fast be able to travel a great distance out of space and stand all kind of temperatures out there. It is really astonishing and miraculously amazing that we are able to engineer such machinery. Today, I will introduce to you one of the greatest and fastest space shuttles NASA ever created.

According to space.com, “a super-speedy NASA probe marks six years of spaceflight today (Jan. 19), beginning the last leg of its journey to the small, faraway world of Pluto. The New Horizons spacecraft launched Jan. 19, 2006, on a mission to become the first probe to visit the dwarf planet Pluto and its moons. That unprecedented encounter is slated to begin in January 2015, so New Horizons has now entered the home stretch of its nine-year trip, researchers said.”

NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft is new of its kind and has the latest technological geniuses of NASA’s researchers. The New Horizon has to travel about 3.5 billion miles in order to get to the planet Pluto and its four moons. According to space.com, “NASA has billed New Horizons as the fastest spacecraft ever launched from Earth. According to the mission team, the probe is now speeding through space at 34,426 mph (55,404 kph) relative to the sun.” The New Horizon still has about one billion miles to go before it reaches Pluto, although according to huffingtonpost.com, “the probe is traveling so fast that a particle the size of a BB could destroy it, so researchers are worried about the broad debris field that Pluto’s moons may have spawned.”

As the New Horizon gets closer to the planet Pluto, more and more discoveries are reached along the way, and according CSmonitor.com, “recent discoveries show that the Pluto system is more crowded than scientists had thought. So NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, which is due to fly by the dwarf planet in 2015, may have to watch its step.”

For more information on the New Horizon, please watch the video by visiting the link on the bottom.

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America was so oppressed over wining the space race against Russia, and in my perspective, this New Horizon by NASA is the trophy, because this particular mission has not received any response from any Russian space agency. The New Horizon is really astonishing in every way and I have so much respect to those geniuses that build it.

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Fastest Boat in the World

New speed records are born with each new day, and some people take the challenge of breaking certain records very seriously. So far, I’ve written about broken speed records in air, on land, and on tracks. Today, I will introduce to you a new form of man made crafts, a machine that is capable of going so fast to the point where hitting a bug is like hitting a bullet and punching water is like punching steel. I think my metaphors speak for themselves; I’m talking about innovation in the world of speed, but this time in a new risky environment. According to CNNTech.com, “Call it a need for speed. For some sailors, breaking water speed records is more than a hobby — it’s a competitive and dangerous obsession.” Some sailors take water speeds to the extreme; Ken Warby is one of the those people, and he still holds the unbroken record of the engineer and owner of the world’s fastest boat.

According to artofsailing.com, “A record for the fastest man driven speed boat was set back on the October 8, 1978 when Ken Warby piloting “The Spirit of Australia” set the world water speed record of 317.6 mph (511 km/h) on the Tumut River near the Blowering Dam in Australia.” Warby designed and built the Spirit of Australia himself, using balsa wood, fiberglass, and Westinghouse J34 jet engine. The engine he used for his boat was not a normal engine; it was developed by the Westinghouse Electric Company in the late 40′s and used for jet fighters and other aircraft. This particular jet engine produced 5000 HP, which is more powerful than 10 semi trucks. According to Anmm.gov.au, “Warby was fascinated with the idea of breaking the world speed record from a young age. As a child he built his own models and power crafts to race on water, setting the scene for his eventual world record attempts.”

I know 317 mph is not necessarily a crazy number, especially if we compare it to recent numbers I’ve written about in earlier posts, but high water speeds are very hard and dangerous to reach due to the severe nature of racing on water. Unfortunately, many people have lost their lives trying to break Warby’s record only to fail horribly.

According to artofsailing.info, “recently in year 2010, the new speed boat called Phenomenon was unveiled at the Miami International Boat Show boasting the title of World’s Fastest Speedboat. The 12,000 HP beast can do over 250 mph. Engineers from NASA and Boeing and former US military naval architects collaborated on the 56-ft. craft with the aim of breaking the world’s propeller speedboat record, spending millions of dollars in the process. No speed records for this boat are recorded though.” Ironically enough, that is America’s way of trying to beat Australia, because America presumably one of the most advanced nations in technology should come first without competition.

It is extremely exciting to read about Warby and his obsession in speed and engineering. From my perspective, Warby and I have a lot in common, such as the love for speed and taking risks, and that is what inspired me to write this article.

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