A rugged vehicle 3D-printed from plastic waste
Antarctica is the driest, highest, windiest, and, of course, coldest continent. Since it’s nearly uninhabitable for humans, it’s also the cleanest. That makes it the perfect place to launch an odyssey aimed at persuading people to curb their plastic-pitching habits.
In late November, Dutch couple Liesbeth and Edwin Ter Velde were preparing to set out on a 3,000-mile roadless trip across the world’s most treacherous landscape, from Union Glacier base camp to the South Pole and back. Their ride is a 52-foot-long, solar-powered snow rover partially 3D-printed from waste plastic. Neither traveler was an experienced engineer, but two years ago, starting with plastic from their trash bin and a commercial 3D printer, Edwin designed a lightweight, honeycomb-shaped block he dubbed the HexCore.
He partnered with custom material makers DuFor and Innofil3D to jigsaw 4,000 of them into the hull of this Solar Voyager, which is 15 percent upcycled plastic. The electric vehicle is powered by 10 solar panels, which eke out enough energy to propel it forward at up to 5 mph. The plan is for the Ter Veldes to take turns driving their plastic contraption 24 hours a day, sleeping in shifts.
IceWorm is a bot that can climb icy walls
From Popular Mechanics:
There are some places on earth that humans simply can’t go. Mount Erebus in Antarctica is a good example. The second-tallest volcano in the continent offers a potential treasure trove of ancient DNA in its walls, but they’re off limits to humans. Our lungs simply couldn’t handle the high levels of carbon dioxide within its tunnels. Mount Erebus and places like it are why NASA is building an ice-climbing robot called IceWorm.
Developed within the Extreme Environments Robotics Group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), the IceWorm has been in the works since 2016. Aaron Curtis, IceWorm’s lead designer and a postdoc at JPL, had studied Mount Erebus for his doctoral work and wished he could have survived the deadly tunnels.
The IceWorm gets its name from the way it moves through the world. Around four and a half feet tall (1.4 meters), the bot centres itself in the ice with two feet using steel alpinist screws made for climbing, with one foot higher than the other. The robot unscrews its lower foot, then collapses its body until the two feet are near each other. This free foot then screws itself back in while the higher foot moves out, stretching the robot’s body up the icy wall. Curtis says the robot “inchworms up the wall” and that the IceWorm incorporates “a whole new way to move around” for a robot.
Forget fobs — unlock your car with your fingerprint
Hyundai has unveiled a new car system that lets drivers unlock and start a vehicle using their fingerprints. The tech is built into the door handle and ignition button of the new 2019 Santa Fe SUV, showcased recently at an auto show in China.
Multiple owners will be able to register their encrypted fingerprint data for the same vehicle, according to the South Korean auto-maker. And, depending on the person using the car, it will then automatically adjust seat positions and the angle of the rearview mirrors. A future update could also allow the biometric system to add personalized temperature, humidity and steering settings, Hyundai said. For now, the company is planning to limit the feature to China upon its launch in the first quarter of 2019.
The fingerprint sensor uses human capacitance to pull off the trick, differentiating between the electricity levels in different parts of the finger to prevent hacking or faked fingerprints. Hyundai said the system — which receives your encrypted fingerprint data from the touch sensor in the handle before unlocking the car — has an error rate of 1 in 50,000 (that’s the same figure touted by Apple for its Touch ID tech for iPhones, iPads and select MacBooks).
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