The design for a bus-size vehicle that would repair potholes on the fly at speeds up to 35 mph has received U.S. patent No. 5,746,539. Operated by only the driver, the machine would use a global positioning system to record exactly where and how bad each pothole is. The inventor, Leo M. Mara, of Livermore, CA, is a technician at Sandia National Laboratories, which supports the project. Mara calls his idea the Rapid Road Repair Vehicle. Scanners on the front bumper would detect anomalies on the road surface. High-pressure air would clean and vacuum the spots. On-board image processing would determine if an object is a hole, bump, manhole cover, or crack. If it's a pothole, a phalanx of nozzles would deliver fast-drying filling material to the proper spots. The mixture would be tamped into place, dusted with grit to provide traction, and vacuumed. Finally, another row of scanners would check the quality of the repair. Under ideal conditions, Mara claims, "the vehicle could possibly patch roads at up to 35 mph." Usually, however, he envisions it moving at 10 to 15 mph. "Even at 10 mph," Mara asks, "can you imagine patching 10 miles of road in an hour?" Phone Subra Subramanian at (925) 294-2311.
During a teardown of the iPad Air and Microsoft Surface Pro 3 at the Medical Design & Manufacturing Show in Schaumburg, Ill., an engineer showed this "inflammatory" video about the dangers of maliciously mishandling lithium-ion batteries.
Science fiction author Isaac Asimov may have the best rules for effective brainstorming and creativity. His never-before-published essay, "On Creativity," recently made it to the Web pages of MIT Technology Review.
Much has been made over the potentially dangerous flammability of lithium-ion batteries after major companies like Boeing, Sony, and Tesla have grappled with well-publicized battery fires. Researchers at Stanford University may have come up with a solution to this problem with a smart sensor for lithium-ion batteries that provides a warning if the battery is about to overheat or catch fire.
In this new Design News feature, "How it Works," we’re starting off by examining the inner workings of the electronic cigarette. While e-cigarettes seemed like a gimmick just two or three years ago, they’re catching fire -- so to speak. Sales topped $1 billion last year and are set to hit $10 billion by 2017. Cigarette companies are fighting back by buying up e-cigarette manufacturers.
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