Back in the 90’s, when I was still a child, I was convinced that by the year 2000, cars would be able to fly. At that time, I was unaware of aerodynamics, and remember asking my dad if his Volvo 440 would take off if we opened the front doors. Dad laughed kindly and replied “If only it was that simple!”.
Now we are in 2017 and, to my dismay, flying cars have still not replaced regular ones. However, since then, the kid in the back of his dad’s car has become an engineer, obtained a PhD and is lecturing in computer vision and autonomous systems at Cranfield University. Today I contribute to the next exciting challenge and the future of transport systems: driverless cars.
Student entrepreneurs Siena and India are taking on the food waste challenge with their innovative, fridge scanning app. What started as a classroom project has grown to a working prototype, winning its inventors the Big Bang Fair’s Junior Engineer of the Year award and a shot at pitching their idea at St James’ Palace. We met up with them to find out more!
Tell us a bit more about the Eat Me app. How does it work?
Siena: Eat Me is an IOT solution that helps transform the relationship between the consumer and the amount of food they waste in their homes. We have built a working prototype that turns any fridge into a smart fridge. It scans best before dates, optimises menus, orders food or even alerts another user if you are running out of certain products in your fridge.
Engineering is responsible for the pulleys, wheels and bows and arrows that carried us towards civilisation. It powered the SS Great Britain across the Atlantic and raised the Eiffel Tower. Without engineering, we wouldn’t have powerful computers tucked away in pockets or a direct line to outer space. Since its inception thousands of years ago, engineering has undoubtedly shaped our world. The question we’re addressing this month, however, is what happens next?
The Thames Deckway is an exciting green transport infrastructure project in London. We aim to tackle some of the big urban challenges facing our city and others like it.
With the support of Innovate UK, we are currently working towards realising our technology demonstrator in east London in 2018.
New figures from Transport for London (TfL) show that more people are cycling in the city than ever before. Despite this, currently one bicycle journey in every 515,000 ends in death or serious injury. At the same time, air pollution from vehicle emissions results in a wide range of health impacts, which significantly reduces life expectancy within the city. Compounding on these issues, projections of future climate change paint a bleak picture. For example, with much of the transport network below ground, more than 57 tube stations would be at risk of climate induced flooding.
In just one hour, our sun provides enough energy to supply the world’s electricity for an entire year. This, and many other arguments for solar energy, have made their way into people’s awareness since the 1960s. More recently, concerns over our changing climate have led to an increased interest. Yet solar power has still not been fully embraced. At the time of writing, solar power accounts for a meager 1% of total global energy production.
The technology to capture solar energy exists. Additionally, cheaper and more efficient solar cells are racing their way to industrialization., But ‘more efficient’ doesn’t always ensure adoption by consumers, homeowners and cityscapes. More importantly, adopting a green technology doesn’t always ensure green behavior by the those who use it!
With its hilly location in south-west England and World Heritage status, development projects in Bath must contend with many practical and regulatory challenges. In our upcoming project, young people reject all the rules to commit heritage heresy and re-imagine a future city where absolutely anything is possible.
‘Heritage Heresy’ is an exciting weekend event being held for local young people aged 10-13 in Bath later this year. They will join up with real engineers, architects and city planners to think about the built environment around them and create new visions of Bath.
Britain’s railways have stood the test of time. Built over 150 years ago by the Victorians, Britain’s railway network carries over 3 million people every day, making 1.3 billion journeys each year. By 2020 another 400 million rail journeys each year are forecast. And it’s not just people commuting to work or travelling for fun. Britain’s railways carry goods we need, fuel for our power stations and materials to build our environment. But with only 20,000 miles of track, there’s a limit on how many journeys the current infrastructure can accommodate. So, to create extra capacity, new lines are being constructed, bottlenecks removed and digital technologies developed to allow longer trains to run more frequently.
At Fun Kids, the UK’s radio station for children, we want to help children explore the engineering and technology underlying a ‘digital age’ railway. We are working on a project called ‘Engineering Britain’s railways for a digital age,’ which is supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious programme. As part of the project, we will create a series of 20 short audio programmes that will look at how to run more trains more frequently, tunnelling under major cities, re-building operational stations, electrification and alternative energy, and communications between trains, signalmen and the rest of the world.
Newspapers, magazines and social media sites are buzzing with the latest ideas and inventions that will bring the city of the future to life. For these ideas to be realised, however, innovation needs a collaborative approach.
Not only does the science of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things need to be fully developed, but so does the day-to-day infrastructure of our urban environments. Here’s how collaborative engineering can transform the future of cities.