Digital Twins

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Data-centric engineering is nothing new, but digital twins open up a whole new world.

Digital twins use real-time data from sensors to provide a virtual representation of a physical object or system that engineers can use to monitor real-time performance, reduce maintenance costs, and predict future malfunctions.

In this episode of the Create the Future podcast, we speak to Mark Girolami, Chief Scientist at The Alan Turing Institute, about his work on the world’s first 3D printed pedestrian bridge, described as a “living laboratory”. We discuss why data-centric engineers are able to make more informed decisions, hear why digital twinning will soon likely be the biggest use-case for artificial intelligence and machine learning, and hear why the best engineers are often multidisciplinary.

Episode Highlights

  • “It's the first time that a publicly available pedestrian bridge has been 3D printed. We were able to actually put sensors on the structure that would allow us to monitor the structural integrity on a continual basis […] We are calling it a 'living laboratory' because we can use that data to study how it performs both historically and into the future. There is also a digital representation which has been developed, a ‘digital twin’, that allows us to do is take these measurements from the bridge and play out novel scenarios.”
  • “Data centric methods of engineering allow you to make more informed decisions at any scale.”
  • “Digital twinning may well be one of the biggest use cases for artificial intelligence technologies that is going to emerge. It is going to have major impact in medicine, structural engineering, agriculture, climate, and weather. There isn't really an area that isn't being touched by digital twinning.”
  • “The idea of data centric engineering is absolutely nothing new. Engineering has always been centred around experimentation, measurement, and ultimately the gathering of data and inferring laws from that data. What is new is being able to do that at scales and at speeds that we never could before.”
  • “This new data means then that new opportunities, new markets, new businesses are starting to emerge, making this area of data centric engineering, on the one hand, nothing new, but on the other hand, such an inspiring, exciting place to be working and to be leading in.”
  • “We need engineers that are heavily into everything […] multidisciplinary teams, teams that bring different aspects of disciplines. Whether that’s mathematicians, computer scientists, computer programmers, artists, or ethicists. Bringing these multidisciplinary teams together is probably more important now than it has ever been. These silos of mechanical engineers or civil engineers or chemical engineers have been broken down and becoming much more diffuse.”

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