TWIE 148: World's Tallest Building in 90 Days

This Week in Engineering - World’s tallest building; 1300 MPG; IKEA-style truck; predicting mechanical failure; teen creates self-driving car; and thought-controlled drone.

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World¦s tallest building
The city of Changsha has won approval from the Chinese government to build Sky City, a skyscraper which, at 220 floors and standing 2750 feet, will be the tallest building in the world, surpassing the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Sky City is expected to be constructed in only seven months -- with four months to prefabricate the materials off-site and only three months to assemble them. The building plans include a 1000-guest hotel, a hospital, schools, offices and housing for 17,000 people.

1300 MPG
Students from BYU have designed and built a concept car capable of fuel efficiency of 1300 miles per gallon. The car has a high compression engine, an aerodynamic design, and a top speed of only 25 MPH, averaging 15. The car uses the burn-and-coast method, where the engine accelerates the vehicle and then shuts off for coasting. The car weighs less than o100 pounds, and in order for the record to count, the rules mandate the driver weigh at least 130 pounds. Well, if I can¦t get 1300 MPG at my weight, then count me out! Any car I drive has to appreciate my curves.

IKEA-style truck
Global Vehicle Trust has created the OX, a cheap and reliable diesel truck made for the developing world. Weighing only 1500 kg, the OX will seat thirteen people, carry eight oil drums, or deliver 2000 kg of payload. In order to decrease costs, GVT used a technique made popular by furniture retailer IKEA, and designed the OX to be shipped in a flat package for assembly on site, allowing six OXs to fit inside a single shipping container. The OX can also be used as a water pump, electrical generator or a mini sawmill. A truck and a sawmill? If it only had a barbeque grill, Ron Swanson would never drive anything else.

Predicting mechanical failure
Engineers must often try to predict when components are likely to fail, and a poor estimate will often result in overspending -- either with too much downtime and repair work, or with unnecessary preventive maintenance. Now, software and sensor company Sentient Science is releasing Digital Clone, a software simulation package for predicting when a component, assembly or system is likely to fail due to friction. The product should help designers make better-informed lifecycle trade-off decisions earlier in the design process. Sentient will hold a news conference to introduce their commercial product on Thursday, June Thirteenth, and you can watch the livestream of the event here on engineering dot com.

Teen creates self-driving car
Nineteen-year-old Romanian Ionut Budisteanu won first place at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, by creating a system for an autonomous driving car that would cost only about $4000. Instead of using high-resolution 3D radar like Google¦s very expensive self-driving prototype, Budisteanu used webcams combined with a less expensive lower resolution 3D radar. For his efforts, the recent high school graduate won Intel¦s $75,000 Gordon E. Moore Award. I wish I had invented the driverless car when I was a teen! Forget radar -- even a random number generator would have been safer than my hormone-saturated monkey brain.

Thought-controlled drone
Researchers from the University of Minnesota have unveiled a quadrotor drone that a minimally-trained pilot can control with nothing but brain waves, detected non-invasively with an electroencephalogram, or EEG. The pilot turns the drone right or left by imagining making a fist with his right or left hand, and moves the drone up by imagining a fist with both hands. The end goal of the system is not to fly drones, but to develop a protocol that could one day aid people with disabilities or neurodegenerative diseases. Look, researchers, I say use your brain reader to build something revolutionary -- a TV remote contr