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How to Design a Perfect City

Paolo Soleri takes the city-as-system approach to its logical conclusion

2 min read
How to Design a Perfect City
The lean linear city would nestle a climate-controlled park (inset) between multistory walls bearing photovoltaic panels and wind turbines.
Illustration: Cosanti Foundation (2)

This issue of IEEE Spectrum is not the first to be devoted to cities: 31 years ago, Spectrum tried to imagine what urban life would be like in the year 2000 and beyond. Some of those forecasts have proven remarkably accurate: ATMs, electronic supermarket checkouts, and cars with digital maps all arrived on schedule. Other predictions have not fared so well: New York City avoided collapse (albeit by a hair’s breadth), our cities do not get their energy from massive nuclear parks, and individualized mass-transit systems still remain little more than oxymora. But the jury is still out on one of our 1976 articles and its visionary subject: Paolo Soleri.

Soleri has been designing his so-called arcologies for decades. His drawings of the megastructures, which integrate all the functions of a city into one efficient supersystem, are as much art as engineering. They have inspired countless young architects and engineers to make a pilgrimage to Soleri’s home in the Arizona desert to study at the feet of the master.

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Video Friday: Humanoid Soccer

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read
Humans and human-size humanoid robots stand together on an indoor soccer field at the beginning of a game

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
ICRA 2023: 29 May–2 June 2023, LONDON

Enjoy today’s videos!

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Computing With Chemicals Makes Faster, Leaner AI

Battery-inspired artificial synapses are gaining ground

5 min read
Array of devices on a chip

This analog electrochemical memory (ECRAM) array provides a prototype for artificial synapses in AI training.

IBM research

How far away could an artificial brain be? Perhaps a very long way off still, but a working analogue to the essential element of the brain’s networks, the synapse, appears closer at hand now.

That’s because a device that draws inspiration from batteries now appears surprisingly well suited to run artificial neural networks. Called electrochemical RAM (ECRAM), it is giving traditional transistor-based AI an unexpected run for its money—and is quickly moving toward the head of the pack in the race to develop the perfect artificial synapse. Researchers recently reported a string of advances at this week’s IEEE International Electron Device Meeting (IEDM 2022) and elsewhere, including ECRAM devices that use less energy, hold memory longer, and take up less space.

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Solving Automotive Design Challenges With Simulation

Learn about low-frequency electromagnetic simulations and see a live demonstration of COMSOL Multiphysics software

1 min read

The development of new hybrid and battery electric vehicles introduces numerous design challenges. Many of these challenges are static or low-frequency electromagnetic by nature, as the devices involved in such designs are much smaller than the operating wavelength. Examples include sensors (such as MEMS sensors), transformers, and motors. Many of these challenges include multiple physics. For instance, sensors activated by acoustic energy as well as heat transfer in electric motors and power electronics combine low-frequency electromagnetic simulations with acoustic and heat transfer simulations, respectively.

Multiphysics simulation makes it possible to account for such phenomena in designs and can provide design engineers with the tools needed for developing products more effectively and optimizing device performance.

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