In terms of solid technology, the people who always get it first are big companies and the military. When I say solid, I mean something that doesn’t just break. For example: big companies have been running on broadband, whose speeds the average user is just now getting, for years. When I say solid, I’m talking about something that’s got some real substance to it:
The average consumer won’t see something like this for various reasons:
- It’s a niche market; it’s not something the average consumer needs
- It would cost a lot to make something like this well, so it doesn’t break all the time; it’s not worth the average consumer’s money
- It’s not something the average consumer is cool enough for
Okay, maybe not the last one. But this video does use Deadmau5 music. Also, it’s a tank-tread snowboard-ski-scooter-bike with enough power to carry a geared-up person up a steep incline. Which is pretty cool.
Of course, this is the video for a military show. No branch of the military has yet adopted it. But the things they’d consider are exactly what an engineer should pay attention to:
- Will it be cost-effective? Remember this is for the military. Cost effective means the benefit of its job is worth more than its cost. Because something like this is built for transporting one or two people (or evacuating injured soldiers on those trailers) you can assume it would be for fairly special operations.
- Will is be reliable? It’s got to get a soldier where he or she needs to be, without breaking down. Tank treads are sturdy, but is the engine built to take a beating? Will the handle break? They had better not.
- Will it be effective? It has to integrate well into current military operations. If it requires new specialized mechanics and trailers, it won’t see the light of day. Stealth and speed are also a factor, probably. The engine is sort of dulled by the loud techno music. And what about fuel economy?
A friend of mine goes to OSU, and is majoring in mechanical engineering. One of his first projects for his first ME class was to build a robot that could climb a rope. Once they get to their senior year, they’re building things like this. For fun, outside of class. In fact, many of the cool projects I’ve posted have been done by universities:
- Human-powered ornithopter – University of Torronto
- Autonomous quadrotors – University of Pennsylvania
- Innovative robot gripper – Cornell University