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Researchers 3D Print Unnecessarily Complicated Roofs

But hey, they look cool. Also, Uber's flying taxis and WiFi transforms security screening.

Uber Takes Next Step Towards Flying Taxis

Uber Elevate has partnered with the University of Texas at Austin and the U.S Army Research Lab to come up with new rotor technology for the company's flying taxis.

Uber plans to have flights available by 2023 in Dallas, Los Angeles and Dubai. According to a report from Techcrunch, the new partners will help the company hit some tough specs.

For example, the electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles will have to fly 60 miles on a single charge. They'll also need to fly at a cruising altitude of 1,000 to 2,000 feet and speed of 150 to 200 mph.

The university is going to experiment with a new technology called co-rotating rotors which has two rotor systems stacked on top of one another and rotating in the same direction.

Next, the researchers will see if the system is efficient enough and meets noise requirements.

Simplifying Security with WiFi

Researchers at Rutgers University have found a way to take common WiFi and use it to find weapons, bombs, and chemicals in bags. The process could drastically change security screenings in public places, like theme parks and schools.

Screening typically takes a lot of manpower and expensive equipment. With this new system, the whole process would be cheaper and a lot less invasive.

The researchers use the wireless signals to penetrate your belongings and find and identify metal objects and liquids.

Basically, they added a few antennas to an existing WiFi network, and analyze the wireless signals as they bounce off of foreign materials.

In initial experiments, the researchers experienced detection accuracy rates of 99 percent for dangerous objects, 98 percent for metal and 95 percent for liquid. The accuracy rate was more than 95 percent when using a standard backpack, although it did drop to about 90 percent if the objects were wrapped.

Next, the team plans to make their system even more accurate when identifying objects and estimating liquid volumes.

The Roof, The Roof, The Roof is 3D-Printed

A few weeks ago, we learned about 3D printed homes. They were small, low cost ($4K), and printed in 12-24 hours. Many Engineering By Design faithful wanted to know how they made the roof. It was a standard metal roof, anticlimactic.

Well, now it looks like the roof could soon be 3D printed as well.

Researchers from ETH Zurich have created the Smart Slab, an 80-square-meter concrete slab made with 3D sand printing. At its thinnest point, it's only 20 mm thick, and it is less than half the weight of conventional concrete slab.

What's interesting is that the process makes it possible for designers to create intricate, and smart, designs in CAD software which are then formed through a multi-step process. They are intricate (as you can see the organic shapes in the design), and smart in that they can design in the pathways for the electric cables.

The team prints the formwork or mold with a large-scale 3D sand printer. The mold is printed in an artificial sandstone material in multiple sections that are joined together. Compared to regular concrete 3D printing which prints in thick layers, this process is able to create much more precise structures.

The structure took about two weeks to harden before it was installed in the NEST (Next Evolution in Sustainable Building Technologies), which the world’s first modular research and innovation building that ETH uses to test new energy and construction technology.

The roof was printed in 11 segments. installed with a crane, and the end product turned out pretty cool.

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