We're at the halfway point in the year, and the number of stories/topics Design News has covered to date has been astounding. But that's not to say we're going to rest on our laurels. I figured this would be a good time to fill you in on what you can expect to see from our editors in the second half of the year. It'll also allow you to chime in through the comments section below and let us know if there's something you'd like to see. (You certainly haven't been shy about doing that.)
We've covered a lot of the auto industry, and we will continue to do so, as this segment is experiencing its biggest metamorphosis in a century. Electric cars and plug-in hybrids are proliferating with three new pure EVs (Ford, Mitsubishi, and Toyota) already reaching production this year and a fourth, the Tesla Model S, poised to roll out late this summer.
However, alternative power trains aren't the only big change. Automakers are preparing for the autonomous car -- Google has already put more than 150,000 miles on its version -- and are rolling out new features (adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping, collision avoidance, and vehicle-to-vehicle communications) that serve as pieces of the autonomous puzzle. Utilities are moving hand-in-hand with those trends, pushing renewables to the forefront and finding ways to store grid energy.
In the automation and control segment, the focus will be on energy-efficient designs, high-performance machine control, and the impact of automation on alternative-energy technologies. With fluid power accounting for 2 to 3 percent of US energy use, efficiency is a major design goal for mobile hydraulics applications such as excavators that use $48,000 in fuel per year.
A second goal is the continuing quest to apply Moore's Law more effectively for machine control applications, including high-performance servo control and new mechatronic designs used in robotics. A Design News reader survey in the fall will look at the future of machine controllers and what users are looking for in next-generation platforms for machine control.
Finally, coverage in this area will look at how automation and motion control are key elements for emerging alternative energy technologies, powering the latest innovations in wind turbines and solar power manufacturing.