Posts for Current undergraduate students

DNN: 7 July 2016

Perhaps the earliest suggestion that consumer drones were about to take off in a big way was the "tacocopter", the little drone brings people tacos from above.  The idea exploded onto the Web in 2012 with the product launch.

The machine readable roadway

The death of Johsua Brown in a collision between his Tesla and a big rig has led to some reflections on automation and trust.  However, it also raises issues about in what ways our world is, or should be, readable by machines.

Death in Tesla using autopilot function

On 7 May 2016, Joshua Brown was killed as his Tesla drove underneath an 18-wheeler on US 27-A highway in Florida.  The truck was making a left turn from the westbound lanes across the eastbound lanes when the eastbound Tesla Model S struck it.  

Garbage gizmo to reduce food waste?

A team of Mechanical Engineering students at Rice University have invented a gizmo that they hope will help mitigate food waste.  The device is called "BioBlend" and it consists of an add-on to a standard garburator that processes food scraps into a paste suitable for composting or conversion to biogas.

Check out the video below.

Efficient medicine

A couple of interesting pieces have appeared describing effects of computerization on medicine.

The bots are coming!

The Communications of the ACM has an interesting short article on the rise of so-called social bots.  A social bot is software that emulates a human being on social media.  An example of a social bot would be a Twitter account that talks up Kanye West.

Intelligent bike helmets

Innovation is a hallmark of good design that we discuss in our STV 202 class.  According to noted designer Dieter Rams, it is important to distinguish between true innovation and mere novelty.  True innovation improves the essential function of a design in a given category.  Novelty is change for some other purpose, such as artistic expression or gimmickery.

Technology and women's jobs

The World Economic Forum recently released its annual jobs report.  As Emma Teitel of the Toronto Star points out, one of the issues flagged by the report is potential loss of 7.1 million jobs in the "office and administrative jobs" category by 2020.

Insurance for self-driving cars

British insurance company Adrian Flux has issued an insurance policy to cover self-driving cars.  Highlights of the policy include coverage in the following circumstances:

  • Crashes due to loss of communication with satellites or software failures;
  • Crashes due to hacking.

Even failure of drivers to take manual control in these cases is covered.

However, other situations are not covered, including:

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