Fu­ture tech now

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - POST GRADUATE -

SCI­ENCE, tech­nol­ogy and en­gi­neer­ing grad­u­ates are big con­trib­u­tors to the eco­nomic growth of a coun­try as they drive in­no­va­tion and de­vel­op­ment.

This is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant be­cause a na­tion’s econ­omy and its ap­pli­ca­tion in the fields of sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy is the de­cid­ing fac­tor that de­ter­mines if it is a de­vel­op­ing or de­vel­oped na­tion.

Here are some re­cently in­tro­duced tech­no­log­i­cal prod­ucts.

Many de­vel­oped and de­vel­op­ing coun­tries have ei­ther semi- au­to­mated or fully au­to­mated pub­lic rail sys­tems. The Copen­hagen Metro in Den­mark is an ex­am­ple of a fully au­to­mated rail sys­tem that can trans­port com­muters be­tween sta­tions, close its doors, de­tect ob­sta­cles on the track and re­act to emer­gency sit­u­a­tions with­out hu­man in­ter­ven­tion.

The town coun­cil of Trikala, Greece, has gone a step fur­ther by in­tro­duc­ing driver­less buses. Part of a Euro­pean Union- funded trial pro­ject called Ci­tyMo­bil2, th­ese au­to­mated ve­hi­cles are even able to op­er­ate on nor­mal roads sur­rounded by cars, bi­cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans in­stead of on seg­re­gated lanes.

Al­though spe­cial laws were passed to make way for the pro­ject, it is a good in­di­ca­tion of how a fully au­to­mated trans­porta­tion sys­tem can be in­tro­duced into pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture, pos­si­bly re­duc­ing the num­ber of road ac­ci­dents that oc­cur due to hu­man er­ror.

The suc­cess of this pro­gramme will lead to a large- scale im­ple­men­ta­tion of sim­i­lar sys­tems around the world.

Ja­panese con­struc­tion and min­ing equip­ment com­pany Ko­matsu and United States drone maker Skycatch re­cently col­lab­o­rated on a pro­ject called Smart Con­struc­tion, bring­ing cloud com­put­ing and con­struc­tion to a new level.

In an ef­fort to over­come the short­age of work­ers in Ja­pan and re­duce ris­ing labour costs, Ko­matsu’s con­struc­tion ve­hi­cles, such as ex­ca­va­tors and bull­doz­ers, can now drive and move earth by them­selves.

Be­fore the ve­hi­cles are sent to work, a Skycatch drone flies over the con­struc­tion site to take pic­tures of the ground and stitch th­ese pic­tures to form a 3D map.

Site plan­ners then en­ter the in­for­ma­tion of what earth they want moved, the ar­eas to be left un­touched and how the next stage of con­struc­tion should look like.

A hu­man con­troller or man­ager can then su­per­vise the ma­chines on a com­puter, en­abling ef­fi­cient and op­ti­mal con­struc­tion with min­i­mal labour force. This high level of drone map­ping sig­nif­i­cantly re­duces the amount of time needed to sur­vey the en­tire area com­pared to the tra­di­tional man­ual process.

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