Furhat Robots Have Neither Fur Nor a Hat
Furhat Robotics is a company based out of Stockholm, Sweden that has created a social robot. They call it "the world's most advanced social robot", and it communicates with humans by speaking, listening, showing emotions and, most importantly, maintaining eye contact. This week, the company launched a new version of the Furhat robot with a new SDK and a sleek new design.
Furhat comes with a set of expressions and gestures that are customizable so the robot could be used as a customer service rep, provide companionship, train employees and even teach new languages.
As you can see from the face lineup, you can talk to anything from an androgynous robot to the na'vi, or your basic male and female. According to the company, the only limit is your own imagination, and when it comes to that companionship robot, I feel like that limit will most certainly be pushed.
The system weighs about 8 pounds (3.5 kg) and has a pair of speakers in the front. According to the company, it offers text-to-speech voices in over 30 languages — you can even record your own voice (hopefully it's not as robotic at the early versions from 2014).
The robot uses an HD camera with computer vision as well as a face tracking system, and the neck has three degrees of freedom and what it calls “natural neck motion”.
GE Adds 3D-Printed Part to Boeing Engines
GE will install the first additive manufactured (3D-printed) part on GEnx commercial airline engines.
The FAA has given "change of design" approval to replace the conventional power door opening system (PDOS) bracket with a additively-manufactured bracket. The PDOS is used on GE Aviation's GEnx-2B engines found on the Boeing 747-8.
The part is used by maintenance staff to open and close the fan cowl doors to access the fan compartment.
The parts are printed in a cobalt-chrome alloy which GE engineers chose over the traditional nickel-based superalloy to enable a faster build. The entire project was quick, and went from design to production in less than 10 months — a first for GE Aviation.
The new brackets will be mass produced (four printed at a time) at GE Aviation's facility in Auburn, Alabama on GE Additive Concept Laser M2 Multilaser machines.
When compared to previous parts, the brackets are 10% lighter and are manufactured with a 90% waste reduction from traditional milling. The new brackets will be shipped as soon as January 2019.
By bringing the bracket production in-house, GE Aviation also stands to reduce its production costs, although they did not provide a figure.
Polestar 1 Prototype Car Survives Crash Tests
The Polestar 1 is the concept behind Volvo's performance arm, Polestar. The idea is for the group to experiment with cutting edge technology that could then be used in Volvo cars. Like all cars before they hit the market, the Polestar 1 has to go through rigorous testing.
Last week, the team put their verification prototype on a 157-meter test track and sped it into a head-on collision at 35 mph, all captured by 12 cameras at about 1,000 frames per second, as well as enough testing and data acquisition equipment that it took seven days to set up. The result was a successful crash test, right down to the dummy's smeared face on the airbag.
According to Polestar, "It’s not enough to only test for the predictable ... It’s also imperative to test for the unpredictable."
Accidents are never planned, but they can be anticipated, which is why this is just the first of many crash tests for the verification prototype cars.
According to the company, the verification prototype challenges existing norms for an electric car — everything from the aesthetics to the driver experience.
Carbon fiber plays a large role in the Polestar 1 to make the body more rigid and more responsive. The entire upper body is carbon fiber-reinforced polymer, but the “game changer” is what they call the Dragonfly, a carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) patch bonded to to the steel underbody to increase torsional stiffness by 45 percent.
Now that the initial crash test was successful, the team plans to take the Polestar 1 to the wind tunnel.
The electric vehicle is set to debut in 2019, and it will cost $155,000.
This is Engineering By Design.