3D printed Motorcycles, Quantum Teleportation and Cheap Water Desalination
Welcome to a new year and for some a new decade (some people argue that decades start in years ending in 1 as there was no year 0). Whichever it is we are now back into the roaring 20’s. I wasn’t around for the 1920’s however I believe that it was a rip roaring decade of change and growth. I expect that we will repeat the rapid change and growth in the next 10 years however I am hoping for a different ending to the decade.
This week we will look at some advances that may have a significant impact in the coming decade. We discover cheaper water desalination and a 3D printed motorcycle. We also examine an advance in Quantum Teleportation and the approval for live autonomous delivery vehicles in California.
Cheap Water Desalination
Researchers from The University of Texas and Penn State have invented a new desalination membrane that will greatly improve water desalination. Desalination is achieved by using reverse osmosis membranes. We have used these membranes for over 40 years but we have not really understood how the process works.
The big problem with the membranes, thus impacting efficiency, was the inconsistency in density and mass distribution. By giving the membranes uniform density at the nanoscale the researchers improved the performance by 30% to 40%. This new membrane requires less energy to clean more water.
The new membrane was developed by building 3D reconstructions of the nanoscale membrane under electron microscopes. The modeled path of the water lead to a determination of how water could be cleaned more efficiently by a new membrane. Enough fresh clean water will be an ever increasing challenge as the world’s population grows.
3D Printed Motorcycle
One of the big changes that will be with us in the next decade is the ability to print what we want to use, near where we want to use it. 3D printing has been around for a while however it is only slowly moving into adoption. It is still early days however vast improvements in the process of printing is making 3D printing more viable and attractive.
The Nera E-Bike is a fully electric, 3D printed motorcycle. Being a concept bike it is not intended for production, rather it is a demonstration of large format 3D printing technology. The bike has a number of ground breaking features including, printed airless types, embedded electronics and forkless steering.
The only things not 3D printed on the bike are the electronic components which are designed to fit snugly into the customizable frame. Given every bike is printed separately it is likely that a bike will be able to be printed to fit your exact size and riding style. In the medium to longer term it is likely that the automobile industry will print cars and bikes to order. No doubt all of those vehicles will be self driving and fully electric.
We are not talking about the type of teleportation that we saw in Star Trek but teleportation of qubits of photons of light. Researchers from Caltech, Fermilab (US Dept of Energy), AT&T, Harvard, NASA and the University of Calgary managed to teleport photos across approximately 43.5 kilometers of fiber-optic cable.
The researchers sent the qubits (used in Quantum Computing) using off the shelf equipment and were able to replicate the experiment over two separate networks.
The process uses quantum entanglement, which involves two or more particles that become entwined so that changing the state of one, instantly changes the other, no matter how far apart they are. Einstein called this spooky action at a distance. Pairs of photons are entangled and separated, thus allowing the data to be “teleported” between them. One photon is sent down the network and the other is kept at the source. Changing the photon at the source instantly changes the photon at the other end of the network. Spooky huh!
This is one step towards a quantum internet. A quantum internet would be much faster and more secure than the current system. If a hacker tried to intercept the information they would garble it by trying to read it.
Robot delivery to start in California
Robotic startup firm Nuro has received official approval to start its’ paid delivery service with autonomous vehicles in California. The delivery of groceries, food and medicines will begin in two localities in the vicinity of the company’s headquarters in Mountain View (in Silicon Valley).
The R2 has no steering wheel and no driver’s seat. With a top speed of 56 kph, it operates autonomously via thermal imaging, radar and 360 degree cameras.
This is no doubt the first of many methods (various companies are experimenting with drones and other types of robots) that will bring autonomous delivery to the masses. Autonomous, fully electrified delivery will reduce the cost of delivery enormously. I expect that this will be one of the largest impacts that we will see in commerce over the decade. It is likely that we will physically shop for experience (because we enjoy finding and discovering new things) and virtually shop for convenience.
Paying it Forward
If you have a start-up or know of a start-up that has a product ready for market please let me know. I would be happy to have a look and feature the startup in this newsletter. Also if any startups need introductions please get in touch and I will help where I can.
If you have any questions or comments please email me via my website craigcarlyon.com or comment below.
I would also appreciate it if you could forward this newsletter to anyone that you think might be interested.
Till next week.