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You Tell Us 2010

It’s usually not hard to spot technology’s clear-cut winners and outright dogs. But every year IEEE Spectrum’s editors cross rhetorical swords over a few candidate projects. In the name of peace, we thought we’d let you decide

2 min read
Photo by Parajet
Photo: Parajet

No matter where you travel, the locals seem to drive like a bunch of maniacs. But now a company named Parajet, in Mere, England, wants to let you rise above the gridlock caused by the talkers, texters, eaters, shavers, and makeup artists who drive with a foot on the accelerator and eyes on everything but the road. Later this year, the company will introduce the SkyCar, a dune buggy–style car that turns into a paraglider on…well, the fly.

The two-seater takes to the air by deploying an asymmetrical parasail “wing” and then accelerating to at least 60 kilometers an hour. Its 104-kilowatt (140 horsepower) Kawasaki motorcycle engine lets it glide at its normal cruising altitude of 900 meters at speeds up to 161 km/h (100 miles per hour), the company claims. A tankful of biodiesel is enough for a 300-km flight. The car’s also good for thrills on the ground—it goes from zero to 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds and can tackle dunes and rocky hills as well as any off-roader.

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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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