Thanks, Cabe. This one was especially fun. I've always liked biology and nature studies in general, and am fascinated with animal behavior, and with insects--they're so ALIEN (that's both a sci-fi joke and a serious statement). Yes, I remember those honeybee studies. Another thing about insects is their intelligence, at least in the collective sense.
This article was truly fascinating. I can remember some academic institution using honeybees in order to map the fastest distance traveled between a series of flowers and applied that logic to solve complex math problems. Nature sure has a way of making things efficient.
Elizabeth, thanks--isn't this one fun? We've got carpenter ants here in the redwood forest, which will eat your house almost as fast as termites do--scary things. But I find ants fascinating, too: they have technologies and what might even be called a culture, in the anthropological sense. But I digress. I found the intersection structure design the most interesting part of the study, which helps them know which way they're headed.
TJ, interesting point about congestion, since the researchers' conclusions are that most ants follow where other ants have gone (via pheromones), and that combined with the right intersection design will mean that most ants take the shortest path. It makes me wonder if, for ants, there are built-in limits on hive size, so congestion of the type humans create doesn't occur.
The tale of the audience 'group flying' the plane is brain-opening...
A lot of other topics in the article, but the distributed control discussions makes me want to build a couple hundred dumb 'bots and turn them loose in the back yard to see what kind of neural net structures they 'decide' to assemble.
This is fascinating, Ann. Ants honestly are some of the most amazing creatures in the natural world, even if they are also some of the most annoying. (I am fighting an ant infestation at my house at the moment, hence my irritation with the little buggers.) Though they are small, they are quite complex creatures! I am not surprised that their behavior could be used to inform technology and design in this way.
The video was fascinating! The final demonstration in it, where the alternate paths sometimes got highlighted just a bit made me think about alternate routes for commuting when the primary is congested (the brightest path in this video).
Sometimes the shortest timed route is not the shortest distance if the shortest distance is heavily traveled. Applying this research will still need to take this into account.
The 100% solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse 2 is prepping for its upcoming flight, becoming the first plane to fly around the world without using fuel. It's able to do so because of above-average performance by all of the technologies that go into it, especially materials.
With major product releases coming from big names like Sony, Microsoft, and Samsung, and big investments by companies like Facebook, 2015 could be the year that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) finally pop. Here's take a look back at some of the technologies that got us here (for better and worse).
Good engineering designs are those that work in the real world; bad designs are those that don’t. If we agree to set our egos aside and let the real world be our guide, we can resolve nearly any disagreement.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.