Anthony Eckersall: Aquatechnician

Eckersall designs control systems for the largest and most complex fountains ever made

3 min read
Photo of Anthony Eckersall
Waterworks: Anthony Eckersall creates the world’s most elaborate fountains.
Photo: Gregg Segal

It’s the beginning of 2002. A 25-year-old British electrical engineer walks off a plane in Los Angeles, making his first visit ever to the United States. Within the year, he would be given the mission of improving one of the main attractions in North America’s glitziest playground. The engineer is Anthony Eckersall, the playground is Las Vegas, and the attraction is the spectacular outdoor fountain at the Bellagio hotel and casino.

Even in a city famous for excess, the Bellagio fountain is exceptional. There are 8000 meters of pipes, 1200 nozzles, and 4500 lights. It cost US $75 million to build and attracts crowds every half-hour. When the show begins, pipes rise from the depths of its 8 acres of water, as if a huge school of dolphins were called to the surface by the music. Water flows from the nozzles in streams that meld into bracelets of liquid diamonds, seemingly suspended in midair. They begin to sway left, then right, then forward and back. Suddenly, more pipes break the surface and with a convulsive kick discharge a mist of water nearly 50 meters into the air. At their summit the new arcs seem to pause, then come crashing down with a sound that nearly drowns out the oohs and aahs from the crowd.

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Video Friday: Turkey Sandwich

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read
A teleoperated humanoid robot torso stands in a kitchen assembling a turkey sandwich from ingredients on a tray

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Enjoy today's videos!

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Neural rendering harnesses machine learning to paint pixels

5 min read
Four examples of Nvidia's Instant NeRF 2D-to-3D machine learning model placed side-by-side.

Nvidia Instant NeRF uses neural rendering to generate 3D visuals from 2D images.


On 20 September, Nvidia’s Vice President of Applied Deep Learning, Bryan Cantanzaro, went to Twitter with a bold claim: In certain GPU-heavy games, like the classic first-person platformer Portal, seven out of eight pixels on the screen are generated by a new machine-learning algorithm. That’s enough, he said, to accelerate rendering by up to 5x.

This impressive feat is currently limited to a few dozen 3D games, but it’s a hint at the gains neural rendering will soon deliver. The technique will unlock new potential in everyday consumer electronics.

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Learn How Global Configuration Management and IBM CLM Work Together

In this presentation we will build the case for component-based requirements management

2 min read

This is a sponsored article brought to you by 321 Gang.

To fully support Requirements Management (RM) best practices, a tool needs to support traceability, versioning, reuse, and Product Line Engineering (PLE). This is especially true when designing large complex systems or systems that follow standards and regulations. Most modern requirement tools do a decent job of capturing requirements and related metadata. Some tools also support rudimentary mechanisms for baselining and traceability capabilities (“linking” requirements). The earlier versions of IBM DOORS Next supported a rich configurable traceability and even a rudimentary form of reuse. DOORS Next became a complete solution for managing requirements a few years ago when IBM invented and implemented Global Configuration Management (GCM) as part of its Engineering Lifecycle Management (ELM, formerly known as Collaborative Lifecycle Management or simply CLM) suite of integrated tools. On the surface, it seems that GCM just provides versioning capability, but it is so much more than that. GCM arms product/system development organizations with support for advanced requirement reuse, traceability that supports versioning, release management and variant management. It is also possible to manage collections of related Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and Systems Engineering artifacts in a single configuration.

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