Construction robots marching onto job sites


Click to run

It has long been impractical to deploy robots at construction sites, because the environment is so varied, complex, and changing. In the past few years however, advances including low-cost laser sensors, cheaper robotic arms and grippers, and open source software for navigation and computer vision have made it possible to automate and analyze more construction…

Kevin Albert, cofounder and CEO of Canvas, previously worked at Boston Dynamics, a company famous for its lifelike walking robots, and in the manufacturing industry. He says there’s great opportunity in construction, which generates about $1.4 trillion annually and accounts for around 7 percent of US GDP but has seen relatively little use of computerization and automation. “We really see construction as mobile manufacturing,” he says. “There’s this natural extension of what machines are now capable of out in the real world.”…

An IDC report published in January 2020 forecasts that demand for construction robots will grow about 25 percent annually through 2023.

RTFA. Lots of interesting details, discussion of the range of directions this process is taking. It doesn’t appear to me there yet is a predominant system or approach. Given growth predictions, there will be some shaking-out happening along with the growth predicted for the next couple of years.

War – good god – what is it good for?

I have to wonder if the American automakers who participate in this qualitative act will also have the foresight to offer a range of choices including utilitarian decisions – not just the obligatory two versions each of an electric Ford F-150.

Ford absolutely has to make that their focus (no pun intended). Seems an easy way to lose a growing segment especially among young and not-so-young drivers who would appreciate the sportier handling capabilities of a vehicle smaller than the average bank vault. Will Ford broaden their line before anyone follows?

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

Trumplets attack Dr. Fauci…because of his virtue


USAToday.com

“You have to remember that Dr. Fauci is being attacked not for any vice or mistake, but for his virtue,” Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “Not for any weakness but for his strength, and not for any kind of any kind of incompetence but for his competence. He’s actually a protector of the United States, something that the president has failed to be able to do from the very beginning, so I do think that people need to pay for the incompetence, but it’s actually the president and the vice president who need to answer for it, and these attacks on experts are going to haunt us for years to come.”

“Science is what’s going to get us out of this pandemic and listening to voices like Dr. Fauci, whose hand has guided everything good that’s happened in this pandemic,” Adalja said. “That’s the way to move forward, and I think that this talk of firing Fauci, which I don’t even think the president has the power to do, is really reprehensible.”

Same as it ever was. The greatest noise made – trying to drown out science and reason – comes from the least educated in modern knowledge. If, in fact, they choose to be educated at all in what our society is now capable of achieving.

60 years later, the Berkeley Bandit returns as an EV

Six decades after it came and went without much fuss, the Berkeley Bandit is ready to make its triumphant return. And in order to actually stick around this time, the sporty speedster will come with two very modern features: an electric powertrain and sustainable parts.

Late last week, the recently resurrected British automaker, best known for its compact sports cars, announced that it would relaunch with a new and improved Bandit. And a zero-emission powertrain isn’t the only way the new car with differ from its predecessor; it will also be available as a roadster or a coupe.

The original Bandit was supposed to be the car that would push Berkeley into the mainstream, but before that got a chance to happen, the automaker declared bankruptcy in 1960, pulling the plug on operations before the car could make it to production. Despite this, the roadster is still looked upon fondly by British sports car lovers, some of whom view the two-seater as having been “ahead of its time.”

As did the original prototypes, 60 years ago, Berkeley designers proved that simple, smooth, ain’t a bad way to design an automobile. I liked their work back then. Like it even more, now.

Runaway train saved by whale!

A fatefully placed whale sculpture in the Netherlands saved a careening train from certain devastation Monday, catching the lead runaway metro carriage on the graceful arc of its mammoth tail.

The improbable incident unfolded at the De Akkers metro station in Spijkenisse just after midnight. Photos from the scene suggest that the train, part of the Rotterdam Metro network, had been unable to stop as it reached its terminus and overran the track.

Rather than fall more than 30 feet to the ground, the train was brought to a stop by one of two whale tail sculptures at the end of the track. The driver of the train was able to escape. He visited a hospital as a precautionary measure, according to local media reports.

Authorities plan on removing his undershorts from the driver’s seat in a week or two.

Chevy’s gonna offer an EV crate engine…Woo-hoo!


’77 Chevy Blazer electric restomod

SEMA is going virtual this year, and one of the cars that Chevrolet will show off will be a 1977 K5 Blazer—called the Blazer-E—that previews the company’s new eCrate aftermarket powertrain. The build team traded the Blazer’s huge 6.6L V8, with its meagre 175hp (130kW), for the 200hp (150kW) motor from the Bolt EV, which connects to the Blazer’s four-wheel drive system via a four-speed auto that replaces the original three-speed transmission…

The fuel tank and exhaust also went in the recycling bin, and a 60kWh lithium-ion battery pack was mounted in the Blazer’s cargo area. This is also from the Bolt EV and includes all the wiring and power electronics one needs to manage a modern battery EV powertrain.

The really cool thing is that Chevrolet has now confirmed that it will sell a crate electric powertrain to the aftermarket the same way it sells crate internal combustion engines.

Given what you can built for less money and more power, hotrodders with geek cred should be cranking out some new generation electric bowtie torque real soon now.

Best Cars for Senior Drivers


No longer a collegiate clown car

So when we decided to poll our editors on their favorite vehicles for senior drivers, we started with safety…Here’s why: Longer life spans often mean people are driving well into old age, and statistics from IIHS back that up. According to IIHS, older drivers now keep their licenses longer and make up a bigger proportion of the population than in the past. That trend is expected to continue as baby boomers age, culminating in some 53 million U.S. citizens reaching age 70 or older by 2030, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

This, of course, leads to concerns about traffic safety. While older drivers have lower fatal crash rates than in the past, they still face a greater risk of injury or death due the inevitable increase in fragility that comes with aging…

To have a reasonable number of vehicles from which to choose for this endeavor, we started with model-year 2020 recipients of IIHS Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick Plus awards. These cars must meet stringent safety criteria to qualify. Knowing that many seniors live on a fixed income, we set a price cap of $35,000; that resulted in 30 qualifying vehicles out of more than 70. We then polled our editors, asking them to pick their top five from the list of 30…

The article is smartly analytical, brief in each category. I know I’ll refer to it whenever that vague time comes when we need to think about replacing one or both of our vehicles. We’d like to get rid of the pickup since we only use it 8 or 10 times a year…now we’re both retired. Coming up with a range that includes a trip to the transfer station with bagged household trash every now and then can be a puzzler.

The only distraction – sad at that – only 1 car from a US company made the group of 30…and no further.