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The Big Problem With Self-Driving Cars Is People

And we’ll go out of our way to make the problem worse

11 min read
Illustration: Bryan Christie Design
Illustration: Bryan Christie Design

The engineers who built routers for the fledgling ARPANET in 1969 never dreamed that networking technology would upend journalism. Nor did anyone guess that cellular communication would make people ignore one another at the dinner table. Early users of email had no idea of spam. Henry Ford did not foresee the traffic jam.

Technology has unintended consequences. Sometimes they are large and tumultuous. It is often well worth the trouble of trying to figure them out ahead of time.

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Inside the Universe Machine: The Webb Space Telescope’s Trailblazing Optics

As NASA’s newest Big Science project opens its eyes, IEEESpectrum reflects on JWST’s groundbreaking engineering

9 min read
Fourteen technicians in clean-room suits guide the hoisting of a honeycombed, hexagon-mirrored telescope inside a giant cleanroom construction space

The James Webb Space Telescope’s 18-segment gold mirror enables it to see a penny 40 kilometers away, or a football 550 kilometers away.

NASA/Desiree Stover

“Build something that will absolutely, positively work.” This was the mandate from NASA for designing and building the James Webb Space Telescope—at 6.5 meters wide the largest space telescope in history. Last December, JWST launched famously and successfully to its observing station out beyond the moon. And now according to NASA, as soon as next week, the JWST will at long last begin releasing scientific images and data.

Mark Kahan, on JWST’s product integrity team, recalls NASA’s engineering challenge as a call to arms for a worldwide team of thousands that set out to create one of the most ambitious scientific instruments in human history. Kahan—chief electro-optical systems engineer at Mountain View, Calif.–based Synopsys—and many others in JWST’s “pit crew” (as he calls the team) drew hard lessons from three decades ago, having helped repair another world-class space telescope with a debilitating case of flawed optics. Of course the Hubble Space Telescope is in low Earth orbit, and so a special space-shuttle mission to install corrective optics ( as happened in 1993) was entirely possible.

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This Startup Is Using AI to Help Keep Store Shelves Stocked

Wisy’s platform eases supply-chain issues by tracking inventory

4 min read
Phone screen with Wisy platform on black background

Store employees take a picture of a product on display using Wisy's platform, and the AI records information based on the photo.

Wisy Platforms

Shoppers are seeing more and more empty shelves, as stores around the world struggle to keep products stocked. The situation is the result of supply-chain issues caused in part by the COVID-19 pandemic. The product-unavailability rate increased from 5 percent to 15 percent during the past three years, according to the Consumer Brands Association.

To make it easier for stores to track inventory, startup Wisy developed an AI platform that uses image recognition to detect which products are out of stock or running low, as well as those that are available but haven’t yet been put on display.

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Electromagnetic Simulations in Automotive Industry

Learn how an electromagnetic simulator can be applied to various scenarios in the automotive industry

1 min read
WIPL-D Logo
WIPL-D

This whitepaper shows several examples of how WIPL-D electromagnetic simulator can be applied to various scenarios in the automotive industry: a radar antenna mounted on a car bumper operating at 24 GHz, 40 GHz, and 77 GHz, an EM obstacle detection at 77 GHz, and vehicle-to-vehicle communication at 5.9 GHz. Download this free whitepaper now!