Intrepid reporter Jon Titus gleefully snapped this photo of a solar-powered street sign in an inexplicable location in his home town of Herriman, Utah. Wonder how well it’s working now?
…and now we know. Jon just emailed us the photos below today (08/27/09) with this comment:
“The sign still collects solar radiation, but check back in about 5 years and lets see how much the tree blocks the sun then. Compared with its neighbors, this tree had a rough season–not much new growth in spite of in-ground irrigation. Although towns can move this type of sign, this one and another nearby on the opposite side of the street seem pretty well fixed. They remind people to slow down near a crosswalk and a large park with several soccer fields. We have similar signs in 25-MPH zones near parks and in 20-MPH zones near schools. Those 20-MPH signs are on timers so they operate only at the start and end of a school day when several flashing lights also alert drivers to reduce their speed to 20 MPH in the school zone. We also have several flashing Stop signs that use photovoltaic cells, but I haven’t seen any near trees.”
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.