The increasing dependence on technology of our standard of living requires a more technologically trained work-force. Attracting young students into careers as engineers, technologists, or technicians is a serious problem in the countries of most CAETS member academies. To help attract the attention of high school students and direct their interests toward engineering, CAETS is preparing a collection of brief articles, each describing potential future challenges in a field of engineering that could contribute significantly to the standard of living of peoples anywhere in the world.
This task has challenges of its own. One is to attract the attention of the student, and another is to excite that student's career interests by identifying challenging and rewarding future opportunities in a field of engineering, all within a brief paper of 4 to 5 pages. As an example, the field of nanotechnology certainly offers challenging and rewarding future opportunities. Specific challenges would help attract the attention of students, ones that are easily understood and bring obvious benefits to peoples. These could include:
CAETS member academies identified the following engineering fields as likely targets for future challenges: Materials, Climate, Energy and the Environment, Education, Biomedical, Communications, Water Practices and Management, Digital Divide, Transportation (personal-use vehicles), Agriculture and the Environment, Robotics, Reuse and Recycling and the Environment, Sustainable Development, Security, Water Supply, Public Transportation and the Environment.
The following early drafts of such brief papers have been prepared, some by authors for whom English is not their native language. Once the substance of these drafts are appropriate to the task, a professional editor will be engaged. For uniformity at this stage, the names of the authors are not included, but will be included in the final edition of the texts. Readers are encouraged to suggest, by e-mail to email@example.com, substantive amendments to any of these drafts that will improve the chances for success in attracting the attention of high school students and directing their interests toward engineering, or propose a draft paper on an additional field.
QUALITY IMPLIES SECURITY IN OUR DAILY LIVES RAI
DEALING WITH WASTE INAE
BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE INAE
WATER SUPPLY FOR HUMAN SURVIVAL AI (Mexico)
INTELLIGENT TUTORS COULD ENHANCE LEARNING NAE (US)
ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT IVA,NTVA,FACTE
INFORMATION SOCIETY IN THE 21ST CENTURY
- a "zero-emissions" power source to support a 300 mile, 80 mph, 4-passenger car;
- a "wind-up", low cost, device to access the world wide web, anytime, anywhere;
- home diagnostic system with tele-medical connection,including ingestible nano-devices, video, and thermal sensing; and
- a system for fully-recyclable packaging.
AND THE INFORMATION & COMMUNICATION REVOLUTION NAEK
TRANSPORTATION AND PRIVATE VEHICLES CAE China
FUTURE CHALLENGES IN BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING RAEng with HATZ comments
M0BILITY AT YOUR CONVENIENCE SATW
AGRICULTURE AND ITS ENVIRONMENT HATZ
MATERIALS EA CR
WATER - GLOBAL CHALLENGE AND LOCAL DILEMMA ATSE
ENGINEERS AND CLIMATE ANIU
QUALITY IMPLIES SECURITY IN OUR DAILY LIVES
This morning, seven o’clock, Natasha Garcia is not feeling so well. PhD in engineering sciences, she is the youngest associated member of the Firm Smith & Associates. She has a full negotiation journey ahead in D?sseldorf. It was not easy to rest in bed with the amount of important points running around in her mind. The subject of negotiation is a large contract for the design of a ten-story building, considered essential for her Firm.
She knows that the first thing to assess this morning is her physiological and mental condition. She switches on the HPSS (Health Parameter Sensory Scanner), seats in the chair of the machine and waits several minutes until the green light indicates the end of the scanning process. She is in good shape, some stress sensation due to the big responsibility on the important contract to negotiate, nothing to worry about. Next step is to switch on the PC, run the program PAMT (Psychoanalytical and Mental Test) and answer a battery of questions. The result shows the need of some resting in order to be in optimum mental condition. Prescription: either an hour resting or a pill of "Prozac". She has no time; she takes the pill.
After a small breakfast she is ready to drive her BMW. The VACC (Vehicle Analysis and Car Control) was programmed by Natasha the night before, for the purpose of being sure that every single car subsystem is in good shape and ready for the trip. VACC switched on the heater some time earlier, the engine on time, cleaned the shield and windows, checked every level of the car fluids, and tested the safety devices. The BMW is in perfect condition.
Today is January 15 of 2023. Natasha requests information about her trip using the CNSS (Communication Navigation and Safety System). The present traffic in the "Autobahn" Cologne - Dusseldorf is relatively fluent, the trip between Natasha’s home and the "Architektur Erbauer Bmh" building, in downtown, can take 34 minutes. The streets on the way to go are clearly marked in the GPS map, two alternatives are possible in case of jams. At the convenient corners Natasha will be advised of possible changes.
Natasha has decided to maintain control of the car driven system. Once and a while the screen connected to the CNSS, request slowing or increasing speed. A security distance with the cars surrounding Natasha’s BMW is essential. The system advises also of the best lane to drive at every moment for the most efficient, faster and secure trip. At some point in time the CNSS announces at the screen a small accident in one street Natasha is supposed to take. Few seconds later the screen is showing her an alternative itinerary. At exactly the programmed time Natasha is seating in the meeting room of "Architektur Erbauer Bmh" ready to negotiate the contract for the design of the ten-story building. Her physical and mental conditions are OK. The contract negotiations are a full success for the Firm Smith & Associates.
This little history is certainly fiction, but we have no doubt it, can become reality. The systems HPSS, PAMT, VACC and CNSS are pure invention and, as far as we are aware, they simply do not exist nowadays. But they can exist if the engineers in the 2020-decade design and develop them.
Is it any special reason for such designs? We are sure the present society is proud of the quality of life achieved today. The technology and the engineering associated with it have been used for improving our quality of life for many years until now. It seems that nobody questions such statement.
The engineers that designed, developed, and build roads, bridges, machines, surgery devices, cars, airplanes, ships, computers, antennas, satellites, houses, irrigation systems, methods for analysis, control tests, and a very long etc., created an environment much more comfortable today than the one of our parents. Years ago, it was not possible to maintain a global communication anywhere with anybody, it was difficult and cumbersome to travel far from home, many people died from illness which today can be easily fixed with few pills or a simple surgery, many houses had no air-conditioning and all kind of utilities to make our life easy as today, etc.
But there is no doubt that the most precious good we have is, in fact, our own life. If we cannot have security to maintain it, we loose a great deal of quality, no matter for how many excellent achievements we are surrounded.
"Quality implies security in our daily lives"
This is one of the most important messages we would like to transmit to the next generation of engineers, and to all humanity in general. In year 2030 the goal should be to have as many devices and methods as to make sure our lives are adequately protected.
Life security and defence, by individual or collectively, must be, in our view, one of the first requirements in the quality of life concept.
But, which are the risks that can affect our lives today? First lets analyse the collective security, trying to predict in some way the next future. Terrorism is clearly a collective threat for our lives. This threat is real and it is not new. Some years ago it was not so evident for many people in the world, but at the end of the Cold War and with the ideas of some radical religions preaching for immolation of their own lives, have produced the evidence of a dramatic, collective risk. Remember the terrible events of September 11/ 2001, in New York.
These collective threats, as terrorism, are aggravated for two main reasons. First is the possibility of using weapons of massive destruction as nuclear, bacteriological and chemical. Second the societal vulnerability which is now more evident than before with the vital points in the critical net of the informatics systems required for the survival of a country.
The authorities of most of the developed countries in the world agree upon a series of points, which are essential for fighting terrorism:
- Under no circumstance it can be accepted. No reasons can justify it, not even the fight for the independence of a country.
- It is very important to identify clearly each concept of terrorism, marking the borders under which they move. The international organizations such as the United Nations, European Union, as well as the national entities, must develop acts and laws sufficiently strong against terrorism.
- It must be clear for the terrorist that no negotiation is possible. The best possible strategy is to foresee it, to protect against it, and to fight it. In this line engineering can collaborate in the design, development, build up and use of the necessary devices and methods for improving the protection of the society.
- Some roots of terrorism (poverty and strong differences in the quality of life in the world) must be addressed. Fighting against them is also a way of fighting terrorism.
One of the big difficulties in the fight against terrorism is the difficulty in identifying the enemy. In fact he can be your neighbour. He can be somebody taken peacefully the same bus, train or plain as you. He can be someone seating in the Caf?, theatre, public library or museum as you. Can you imagine the importance of designing and developing a system able to detect the potential threat with sufficient time to abort the terrorist action?
This type of ideas, designs and developments based on the new technologies, which will surely be available the next decades, is what the humanity is expecting from the scientists and engineers. From our point of view it is difficult to imagine a young generation of students not feeling attracted for these kind of challenge. In fact we are sure that something similar to what attracted our generation for the space developments or the protection of the environment, would happen now and next years in the generations that are now in high schools and universities.
There are other collective threats and risks, sometimes less evident than terrorism, but in many cases related with it. The international economic risks, mafias, drug traffic and, in general, international delinquency, which volume and importance has increased up to destabilizing levels in the international market. The big gap between the rich and the poor, the first every day more and more rich and reduced in percentage of the world population, the second more numerous, poor, with no stability, making almost impossible new investments in their countries.
The engineers have a lot to do in order to avoid these insecurities. The new achievements in services and goods for the improvement of the quality of life in the poor countries, the research in sustainability of energy resources and the protection of the environment, will be essential in the next years to come.
As we said earlier, we owe a great deal of our present quality of life to the new technological developments and the engineering of our environment. But these developments have also some risks for our lives and goods. One good example is the "cybernetic risks". Some authors are talking about the "war of informatics" in which they see the possibility to annihilate or even destroy the resources of a society, blocking the essential services of a city, region or even a full nation, using a cybernetic attack. This risk has a lot to do with the engineers; only the persons well trained in engineering can do it. But for the same reason the engineers are responsible for the actions and developments required in order to foresee, reduce or even avoid completely these risks.
It is easy to imagine a long list of collective and personal risks that are present today due to the use of the technological developments and the machines and constructions of engineers. There are risks crossing a bridge, driving a car, travelling in a tunnel, sailing on a ship, or flying on an airplane. There are risks working in a factory, in an oil-drilling field, in a hospital, in the twentieth floor of an office building, in a drug shop, or at the home kitchen. In addition, the babies, children, elder and handicapped people have risks related with their unique status.
Having said the above, is there anything in common to all the risks that could be used for the design of a new personal security system? We believe the correct answer is yes, they are risking the human life, the same quality of life that most of the technological developments and engineering machines and constructions are trying to improve.
With imagination (something that the young engineers and scientists have in plenty) new technologies as nanotechnology, new materials with memory, ultrahigh sensitivity sensors, and some economic help, it is not difficult to predict that some new personal security system, based on the subject to protect instead of the particular risk to avoid, could be designed and developed by the engineers of the next two decades.
In conclusion, the principle on which the engineers base their activities is the most adequate utilization of the new technologies. They must understand and be conscientious that they are responsible, in large measure, of how the new society is going to be configured. For this reason, they should try to achieve a future in which the risks are reduced and the security is increased, something contributing to achieve a better quality of life. The engineers have a very noble profession.
DEALING WITH WASTE
The modernization of the societies, in a large measure, is technology driven. One of the negative consequences of this process is generation of waste at an increasing rate. We have to take appropriate actions to manage our waste; These actions are also bound to be technology driven. Our focus has to be
(i) reduction of waste material,
(ii) their utilization and their recycling and
(iii) to ensure their appropriate final disposal.
The Earth system neither has infinite resources to cater for unlimited consumption nor the capacity to sustain unlimited waste. Our aim should be to become globally a recycling oriented society that conserves natural resources to the possible ultimate limit.
2. Why Waste should be Reused or Recycled ?
Consumption pattern greatly affects the generation of consumer waste. Disposable goods and packages are increasingly used, more so in the developed countries. They enormously add to waste burden on the "throwaway" society and decrease the likelyhood of voluntary recycling.
We owe it to posterity to reduce the amount of waste we generate and the amount of natural resources which we deplete, often unnecessarily. Recycling results in reduction of landfills, conserves mineral, forest and other resources, reduces emission loads and improves economic vitality of a country. Recycling technologies need to be improved, or developed if not available, for waste related to automobiles, electronics, electricals, batteries, packagings, paper, textile scrap and residue, domestic and household waste, furniture, civil construction, agriculture and food processing, power stations, industries, etc. Innovative technologies, which are specific to various types of waste, which are compatible to local milieu, and which are technoeconomically feasible, must be developed for reuse and for recycling of waste.
3. Hierarchy of Waste Management
Solid waste hierarchy covering the monetary value of environmental impact of various types of pollution that occur in production of waste and its management plays a role in examining technical, economical and environmental justification for the solid waste management. The hierarchy must rank waste management methods. On the hierarchy list, reduction of generation of waste at the source deserves to come at the top. It should be followed by recycling and composting what cannot be reduced and finally, the disposal of the remainder by incenerating or in landfills.
4. Pulp and Paper
Pulp and paper production and paper recycling have considerably increased in recent decades. With increase in consumption of paper, its recycling has become very important for conservation of forests and consumption of water in paper industry. Reducing of packaging waste can be a source of competitive advantage.
5. Electronic Waste
One of the byproducts of Technology change is the growing quantity of obsolete electronics. Once discarded, computer monitors, floopy discs, CDs, cell-phones, VCR’s, TVs and other e-waste become high-tech cousins of worn-out tires and auto batteries. These are potentially hazardous waste which are generally regarded as not suitable for recycling processes. CRTs contain a large amount of lead that can leach into landfill and contaminate ground water.
Electronic waste from industries, offices and house-holds is rapidly growing. Recycling of electronic waste means re-circulating the reclaimed raw materials for re-processing and finally marketing them in a transformed form. Due to complexity and diversity of electronic waste, this activity is highly labour-intensive and time-consuming process. Utilization of electronics is also very costly. Recovery of material from electronic waste is nonetheless very important since it will eliminate substantial volumes of waste which is potentially hazardous.
Disposal requirements of different types of batteries are different. Alkaline and heavy-duty (carbon-zinc) dry cells cannot be recycled. Viable recycling technology of dry cells need to be developed. Rechargeable (Ni-Cad) batteries can be and should be recycled Cadmium is toxic and it must be recycled. Computer batteries (Ni-metal-hydride or Li-ion types) contain toxic metals and it is important to recycle them. Button cell batteries contain a large percentage of heavy metals and must be recycled. The lead-acid batteries must be recycled because it has toxic lead. Luckily a large percentage of lead-acid batteries are recycled the world over. Technology of recycling as well as legislation is required to manage battery waste.
7. Consumers Chemical Waste
Paints, cleansers, thinners, motor-oil, motor-coolants, pesticides, herbicides can form dangerous mixes. They should never be mixed. In the same category are adhesives, floor and furniture polish, acid, etc. Disposal of these chemicals when they become unusable, requires special care. For example improperly disposed waste lube oil can cause serious environment damage. If it migrates into ground water one litre of oil can contaminate 250,000 litre of drinking water. Motor oil, therefore, must be recycled.
Every country generates solid waste in huge amount. A growing amount of this waste is disposed off in landfills. The amount of waste depends on population and consumption rate. USA generates more that 4 billion tonne of solid waste per year equivalent to an astounding 16 tonne per person. Landfills can leach contaminants into the soil and the water table. Environmentally protective landfills are difficult to locate and expensive to construct. Landfills must be designed so that they are environmentally safe. The disposal capacity of the planet must be conserved.
9. What should be the Goals ?
Any material is a waste material only if we waste it. Technologies are needed for minimization of the generation of waste, reuse of waste, recycling of waste and safe disposal of the eventual waste which cannot be utilized. The following "golden rules" emerge (source: Green Book of Landa) to achieve the goals of waste management.
1. Reduce consumption, it will result in generation of less waste.
2. Substitute a material that requires less disposal cost.
3. Reduce all internal and external waste.
4. Reuse the materials and the packagings.
5. Re-manufacture and retrofit products.
6. De-manufacture, salvage and recycle all that is possible.
7. Decompose waste materials into less obnoxious or into more valuable forms.
8. Recompose chemically and restore the material into its original or convert it into another useful form.
9. Separate and segregate waste early in the process of waste management.
10. Segregate and accumulate and store waste materials while seeking solutions of their ultimate disposal.
11. Incinerate after segregation with care.
12. Use landfill as the last resort for disposal.
13. Encase toxic nondegradable materials for permanent burial.
14. Educate everybody about waste management.
10. Invest in Waste Management.
For protection of clean environment and its preservation and for ensuring a good quality of living conditions to its people, every nation must invest in managing its waste. Since resources for investment will always be under constraint, the investments must be optimally used. To achieve this, R&D inputs for waste management, that is reduction of waste at source, reuse and recycling of waste, and proper disposal of what remains, are important and essential. One measure of the continued adequate level of waste-related investment is R&D related spending.
BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE
Spectacular developments in space technology, rapid advances in digitalisation and convergence of computer and communication technologies have initiated the new Information and Communication Technology (ICT) revolution, making it possible to transmit and receive even terra bytes of information anywhere on our planet. ICT revolution has spearheaded the growth of knowledge societies breaking all geographical boundaries and barriers and bringing even remote areas into the mainstream by connecting them to information super highways. With information being generated at the rate of 20 trillion bits a day, the comparative advantage has inevitably shifted to those nations and societies, which can instantaneously access, analyse, synthesize and disseminate the vast data bank of information available from multiple sources to enable them to effectively compete in the knowledge based global economy. Knowledge has become the key to sustainable development, economic power and social transformation. Since low wage lab
our does not, any more, enjoy an advantage in a knowledge society, the developing countries can improve their economic status only by effectively participating in the global value chain, which requires efficient communication connectivity, universal internet access and adequate knowledge build-up for speedy decision making.
Dilemma of the Developing World
Inspite of the spectacular technological advances, the developing countries which carry over three quarters of the global population, continue to account for just 25% of the energy consumption and contribute to less than 20% of global GDP. Living on less than 2500 calories per day, 25% of the people in the developing countries have no access to safe drinking water and 34% continue to be illiterate. In a world where the average annual per capita income in the developed countries exceeds 25,000 dollars, about 1.6 billion people in the developing countries, constituting over 25% of the global population, are barely managing to survive at less than one dollar a day. While space communication has no doubt shrunk time and distance converting our planet into a global village, developing countries continue to suffer from hunger, malnutrition, large scale illiteracy, poverty, poor agricultural productivity, industrial backwardness, inadequate infrastructure, lack of resources and capital and poor quality of life.
The rapidly growing population in these countries expanding at the rate of a quarter million people a day, has sharply brought to our focus the immensity of the challenge of providing basic food, economic, health and environmental security for all the people in the world.
The poor performance of industries in developing countries is due to their heavy dependence on imported technology, uneconomic scales of manufacture, rigidity of labour laws, low productivity and rapid setting of obsolescence. Continued dependence on advanced nations for technology can never succeed in a technology apartheid regime, being practiced by the advanced nations in their own economic interest. Economic globalisation, in the information age seems to have further increased the digital divide between the developed and the developing societies, the haves and the have-nots of cyberspace.
“Digital Divide” has been defined by OECD as “the gap between individuals, households, business and geographic areas at different socio-economic levels with regard both to their opportunities to access Information and Communication Technologies (ICTS) and to their use of the internet for a wide variety of activities”. The richest 20% and the poorest 20% of the global population living in the rich and poor income countries account for 82% and 1%
0 20 40 60 80 100
Poorest Percentile Population Richest
Fig 1: Illustration of contributions to the national GDP by various sections of population as per their income.
of global GDP respectively. Whereas the poorest 20% use less than 0.2% of internet, the richest 20% account for 93% of internet users. An average OECD country has 40 times more personal computers, 110 times more mobile phones and 1600 times more internet connectivity than in Africa. Unless the developing countries are able to halt the rapidly growing digital divide and enable their citizens to have access to the benefits of information age, the grand vision of building an equitable global village will remain an empty dream. On the other hand by concentrating on human resource development and providing access to the information base through broadband communication infrastructure, developing countries have now an opportunity to turn the digital divide into a digital bridge.
0 20 40 60 80 100
Poorest Percentile Population Richest
Fig 2: Illustration of the pattern of Internet usage in India based on income distribution.
The average annual increase in population in the developing countries still continues to be around 2%, which requires almost 4% annual increase in economic growth rate just to offset the demographic growth. If the developing countries have to make any progress they must achieve a minimum of 8% annual economic growth rate, which can only be realised by concentrating on human resource development, creating appropriate infrastructure and developing their industrial output on a globally competitive basis. Achievement of higher productivity requires all the workers to be educated and skilled and state-of-the-art technologies to be employed in the manufacturing, agriculture and service sectors.
Universal education is the key to empower even the weaker sections of the society and bridge the digital divide. Thanks to the phenomenal developments in digitalisation and the convergence of computer and communication technologies, it is now possible to provide instantaneous access to any information through seamless multi-media networking combining satellite and ground-based, wired and wireless and stationary and mobile communication systems. Extensive deployment of digital VSAT’s, internet connectivity and broadband transmission using space satellites have turned out to be ideal tools for promoting interactive education and human resource development. Developing countries possessing qualified technical personnel can take advantage of these developments to become attractive destinations for outsourcing and outlocation for the rapidly growing IT enabled services which has already emerged as a strong $100 billion global market.
Providing adequate food, nutrition, environment and health security to the growing population in the developing countries, which is expected to grow from 5 billion to over 9 billion by 2050, is undoubtedly going to be the greatest challenge of the new millennium. Doubling the food grain productivity to over 4 tons/ha. on a sustainable basis is possible only through the initiation of a new “Ever Green” revolution, which can ensure prevention of environmental degradation by combining technological tools of bio-technology and space technology.
VSAT’s have been extensively used in countries like China for providing high quality distance education to even remote area population. Recent advances with less than one meter antennas have already brought down their cost to less than $500. With further technological advances and large volume production, the cost of VSAT’s are expected to break the $200 barrier resulting in a drastic reduction in the cost of dissemination of information and data to just 10 cents/mega byte down load, thus making it truly affordable to set up “Communication Cafes” and “Information Kiosks” in isolated rural areas.
Access to the data and information available on the internet, has been used by a few remote local communities to better understand the external forces and enable them to use their knowledge to improve their quality of life. It is through this technology Indian farmers, for example, in the remote villages of Dhar District of Madhya Pradesh, in Punjab and Haryana are able to profitably sell their agricultural produce by checking the latest trend of market rate, receive agricultural and veterinary advices, access computerised land records and even sell their skilled products and services globally by creating web sites.
Rapid progress in the establishment of satcom, fibre optic and wireless networks in India and availability of a large talented pool of English speaking software experts have enabled India to make a significant mark in software industry. Taking advantage of the availability of offshore powerful computers and marshalling its own strength, India’s software industry has emerged as the fastest growing economic sector, growing at a compounded annual growth rate of over 50%. Information Technology (IT) has become a new Mantra in the country. From a modest $150 million a decade ago, the software industry has now reached an annual turnover of US$9 billion, seventy percent of which is from export to other countries. At the present rate the software industry turnover is expected to exceed $60 billion by 2008, sixty percent of which will be the export component.
In many countries like Africa, South America and Asia, satellite remote sensing imageries are being increasingly used to track and even forecast the spread of epidemics, transmissible diseases like Malaria, Cholera and diseases of environmental origin like Hepatitis, Diphtheria and Tuberculosis. Satellite communication network can provide a very wide spectrum of medical services to even remote area population ranging from dissemination of basic health care information to rural medicos to assisting them in medical dispensation through interaction with identified specialists located in urban areas. Under disaster situation telemedicine can become a life saving program for mitigating the sufferings of disaster affected people and dealing with rescue as well as post disaster rehabilitation efforts. Accessing medical history and transcription of patients from anywhere is possible using broadband data com lines and high speed satellite links.
The annual global economic costs related to disaster have already reached an astronomical value crossing $400 billion a year. The developing country population residing in coastal areas, which account for 50% of their total population, have become the most vulnerable targets of natural disasters. While meteorological and remote sensing satellites along with the communication capabilities built through communication satellites have decisively proven their capability for providing timely warning, prediction and assistance in the management of natural disasters, immediate access to such data and rapid dissemination of information are the key for an effective disaster management system. Space bridge has become the crucial component of robust disaster management system, particularly because of its immunity to disasters and adaptability to address specific affected areas in any part of the country.
Achievement of an equitable global village, where all the people in the world are able to live a contented and fulfilling life is a dream. Nevertheless it is the only dream, which can save humanity and ensure that major human catastrophes are avoided. The ever widening gap between the developed and developing nations needs to be rapidly reversed to ensure a minimum acceptable quality of life for the vulnerable people in the poorer nations. This can only happen when we are able to build a strong digital bridge and empower weaker nations and vulnerable societies to reap the benefits of economic globalisation using the tools now available from information and communication technology revolution. The lack of pre-existing embedded infrastructure can in fact be turned into an asset by the developing countries, if only they are willing to leap frog into the digital world. What is needed is a strong political will and enlightened leadership committed to bridge the digital divide to achieve the dream of a truly
WATER SUPPLY FOR HUMAN SURVIVAL
Water is one of the four elements that mankind has always considered vital for its existence on this planet. This explains why many of our ancestors ever considered water as a deity that governed some aspects of human life, and why early settlements were made around natural water bodies. On the other hand, we must recognize that contaminated water has also caused many illnesses and epidemics.
Virtually all great ancient civilizations devised different ways of conducting and storing water. The great aqueducts that the Romans constructed all over their empire (27 B.C. - 395 A.D.), and the fantastic irrigation and channel systems that the Incas built in Machu Picchu, Peru, are examples of this. We also know about some extraordinary hydraulic works that the Aztecs constructed during the Pre-Colombian period to bring water to the great city of Tenochtitlan.
Today, specialized engineers (civil, mechanical, electrical, environmental, etc.) participate in extracting, storing conducting, purifying, distributing, and treating the water we need for drinking, agricultural, industrial or even recreational purposes.
Nevertheless, we engineers are faced with enormous challenges to provide potable water for every human being. Let us examine some of the most interesting challenges that we currently face, and those that we foresee in the future.
Water Supply for Large Cities
Let us consider all the steps needed to have water in our homes. First, we need to locate a water source near the city (river, lake, etc.) or build a dam to capture and store running water, or dig the ground to find an aquifer holding enough water and pump it out. Furthermore, in some cases, several sources may be needed to supply enough water for a single metropolitan area. The second step refers to the conduction of large volumes of water from the source to a plant where it is filtrated and disinfected. This is done by means of aqueducts, pumping stations or some other devices to control water conduction through closed or open ducts (pipelines, channels, etc.). Once made potable, water is usually stored or directly distributed through many kilometers of pipelines with different diameters and made from different materials (steel, ductile iron, PVC, concrete, etc.). Finally, wastewater has to be sent to treatment plants from where it might be reused (for industry, agriculture, etc.), reinserted to the ground,
or simply discharged to a river, lake or ocean.
Considering all the challenges that arise during the execution of these steps, the participation of several engineers specialized in different fields (hydraulics, hydrology, sanitation, geotechnics, geology, etc.) is indispensable in order to analyze the best economical and technical solution for each step. Moreover, each of the steps mentioned above represent a tremendous challenge to improve the conventional ways in which they are carried out.
Water Supply for Agriculture and Food Production
In most countries, between 65% and 75% of all water consumption goes into agriculture and food production. This water, needed for irrigation, farms and rural villages, usually comes from groundwater exploitation or from dams and reservoirs. In any case, for the last twenty years or so, it has been increasingly important to use a sustainable approach in order to avoid ecological damages to wildlife habitats and human settlements, or the overexploitation of groundwater resources, which may bring irreversible consequences. Some of these consequences are related to the contamination of rivers, lakes and aquifers, saltwater intrusion in estuaries and aquifers, soil subsidence in cities (Los Angeles, Ca., Mexico city, etc.), negative environmental effects, disruption of the livelihood of private households and tribal/indigenous groups, etc. Unfortunately, in most underdeveloped and developing countries, the culture, traditions and idiosyncrasy of people preclude the design and construction of new projects that take
into consideration the consequences of altering the ecological system around the civil works needed for irrigation and food production.
Therefore, in view of the fact that the world population is increasing and thus demanding more water, and that water availability in this planet is limited, the new generation of engineers concerned with this issue will face some very interesting challenges. Some of these challenges are related to the efficient use of water by using special mechanisms such as drip irrigation and micro-spraying systems.
Industrial Water Supply
Now that energy has become a very important issue all over the world, particularly for those countries which are very much concerned with its environmental impact, the production of energy through hydroelectric plants is one of the most desirable alternatives. Nevertheless, producing enough energy by such means requires large volumes of water that have to be stored in a dam or reservoir, or diverted from a river, in order to be conducted to a power generation station where turbines transform hydraulic energy into electrical energy. Furthermore, energy production through thermo-electric plants also requires large volumes of water for cooling purposes. In this particular case, however, the water source might be groundwater accumulated in an aquifer. In any case, a team of engineers with different backgrounds will be necessary to solve all the field and laboratory challenges before large-scale energy production is accomplished.
Taking into account the role that industries play in this globalized world, this issue should be of primary concern for any country interested in being among those with a sound economical status. It is indispensable for any industry (tourism, fishing, automotive, textile, etc.) to have a secure water supply in order to be successful. Here again, it is necessary to go through a series of studies, and then the actual construction of works to provide water to all the new industries that will be established in the future.
Water Supply for Arid or Semi-Arid Areas
In this regard, we have very serious and important challenges to help millions of people all over the world who live under very poor and anachronic conditions, particularly in most underdeveloped countries. Water issues should be given the highest priority, since by solving them, many other basic problems are also solved or alleviated (health, nutrition, food production, employment, migration, etc.). It is important, for instance, to develop methods for collecting and storing rainwater during rainy seasons or using solar cells (in places where there is not electricity) to pump water up to an elevated storage tank and use it for the most basic needs (drinking, dish washing, cooking, bathing, etc.). For activities that require larger amounts of water (farming, vegetable production, cattle raising, etc.), it becomes necessary to store water in ponds or reservoirs, build the required pipeline networks, and install any other utilities for water supply distribution.
To achieve these goals, it is necessary to conduct several preliminary studies related to the hydrologic, topographic, environmental, and demographic conditions of each area in order to develop executive plans for constructing the required civil works. These works demand original, imaginative, and creative proposals for the benefit of the most needy population of the world. Thus, the participation of different engineering disciplines in the construction of the water infrastructure needed in all the countries in deserts or semi-deserts is obvious, and represents huge challenges for future engineers.
New Water Supply Sources
We already know that the drinking water we can obtain directly from mother nature is limited, that most of the sites for collecting and storing surface water through dams and reservoirs are already occupied (either because there is by now a reservoir construction or a village), and that many of the aquifers from which we obtain groundwater are overexploited. On the other hand, we also know that the rate of population growth is still very high; and therefore, water demand for direct and indirect human consumption will keep increasing, at least for the next 50 years. This means that we engineers have the extraordinary challenge on finding new sources of water supply.
So far, there is only a handful of new feasible alternatives to obtain potable water. Many research engineers have been studying them in order to improve them and make them more economical. The one that has received the greatest attention and sponsorship is that related to desalination. This alternative is particularly attractive for industries and cities near the coast, but the cost of each cubic meter of desalinated water is still very high. Therefore, it is necessary to develop new techniques in order to reduce that cost in the near future.
A second very interesting alternative is the reuse of treated water or the exchange of such treated water with “clean” water. This alternative consists of applying enough treatment to wastewater, so that it can be used for irrigation or industrial purposes; it can also be injected to overexploited aquifers.
A third alternative is the control and/or elimination of water leaks in main distribution networks and home piping systems, and the use of water-saving sanitary devices (toilets, faucets, sprinklers, etc.). This alternative might reduce potable water demand by up to 50 per cent.
There are some other mechanisms, currently on an experimental stage, for obtaining more potable water or decontaminating existing water on site. One of these mechanisms consists of hauling large pieces of icebergs in rafts or ships. However, this alternative is still very expensive, particularly for sites located far from the poles.
A quite recent methodology to purify water in rural areas involves solar disinfection. This is a very simple water treatment method which uses solar radiation in the UV-A wavelength to inactivate and destroy pathogenic bacteria and viruses present in water. This methodology combines the germicidal effect of increased temperature and UV radiation.
In conclusion, there are many very interesting challenges for future generations of engineers in the area of water. These challenges must be faced using sustainable methodologies and foreseeing the water demand that the ever-growing population will require for its survival.
RECYCLING, an important means to keep feasible development
Regarding the world’s population, it is obvious that for the present only a small fraction of the people live in so-called civilized countries and in acceptable circumstances. This lucky minority, however, has a great choice of different goods provided by agriculture and industry. The offer increases steadily as technique develops. New products are introduced, new machines and equipments turn up on the market, which are better engineered, more attractive. The machines are quicker, safer, and more efficient than the older ones, they can be handled more convenient, they have a better quality or they are simply better looking. New inventions may serve new needs, new models are stimulating people to buy them and throw away the old ones.
Although, purely possessing some technical objects does not involve automatically happiness, in general, they make life easier, more convenient, they help to alleviate work and therefore it is natural that the major part of population - for the present being in shortness of a lot of different useful means - makes an effort to make up leeway and to follow in this sense the "civilized world". A good example is in our days China with its population far over one billion and its rapidly developing economy.
Considering this general tendency from the side of production, this means that as time and development continues, more and more people will possess technical goods, starting from simple cloths to fancy televisions, computers, autos and many other luxurious objects. The quantity of consumed products will further increase not only because of the technical development, but also because of the increasing number of people, who can afford such goods themselves.
Another aspect of the new products is the material, which they are made of. In many cases new materials are applied, which are more resistant to corrosion, to wear, to fracture and other unwanted events influencing the life of the objects. This may result the elongation of the technical life, but unfortunately not always the service life. Nowadays, in the consumer society, the usage of many products is limited by the moral live, which becomes shorter and shorter.
The consequences of all the mentioned factors, the growing number of population, the spreading of civilization, the new sorts of products, the shortening of the moral life of the goods are that the quantity of waste -a considerable problem even to day - will increase tremendously in the future. The only possibility to keep the environment acceptable for life is recycling. Recycling is well known and widely used in agriculture for ages. A peasant growing e.g. beets will give the leaves for his animals. The dung, produced by the animals goes back to the field - a continuous cycle of production. Industry is in general not so lucky to use only recycled material, but it can add old material to the new raw material in a given percent, without decreasing the quality. If this will not be done, then wastes of any form: gaseous, liquid and solid will pile up and will pollute the environment.
Wastes originate from the producing processes themselves. E.g. oil or grease is used practically for any machines. A great quantity of water is used for cooling, for cleaning off different chemicals, etc. These liquids have to be cleaned - recycled - and then they can be used again. Production also generates solid wastes. There are scraps, cut-offs, by testing destroyed pieces, spoilages, which all have to be recycled instead of stored in the factory.
Although recycling of wastes generated under production is an important question, this is generally solved within the factories, it is involved in the producing chain, it can be easily controlled by authorities, and so a pollution of the environment can be avoided. Recycling of the used, worn-out goods of the population is a much more complex problem. The goods are very different regarding their material, their quantity and their complexity. The people are not so well organized as a factory, not so well disciplined, even a selected gathering is not totally efficient and the wastes has to be checked and probably reselected.
Anyhow, selection is the first problem of recycling. It is relatively simple to select homogeneous products, like paper, cloths, metal boxes or wood. But complex products, like automobiles, computers, household appliances have to be dismantled carefully. Automobiles are probably the most frequently occurent objects, no wonder that great firms are dealing with them. Severe prescriptions regulate the sequence of dismantling to avoid any disaster. Automobiles contain dangerous materials, as fuels, oils, and sulphuric acid in the batteries. These have to be drained first. Then the coolants and the gases from the conditioning systems (CFCs, HCFCs) have to be departed. Glass, batteries, tires, plastic parts, textiles have to be separated.
The next step is to consider, whether some parts can be reused. It is evident that not all cars are very old, which are dismantled, but some were damaged by accidents. So, in this case a smaller or greater part of the car is still in good condition. In other cases, an old car can have also some new parts, as e.g. a new battery or new tires. This refers also to the different fluids mentioned above. It would be wasted money to throw away these parts. Instead, reusable parts are registered and listed, and they are sold for reduced prize. The remaining part of the automobile will be pressed into blocks, which can be used in steel producing furnaces. Old rusty steel is even necessary for steel makers.
The drained fluids are also recycled after an appropriate cleaning and qualifying process. Only the recycled oil makes about 85 million barrels per year in the USA. This gives an idea that recycling is not only a necessary, environment protecting policy, but it is also an effective economic action.
Of course, not every part of a car - or of any other construction - can be recycled so easily. For the present this can be done for 76 % (by weight) of a car. The remaining 20-24 % is still a great amount. Old tires e.g. cannot be used for making new ones. Although, there are more recommendations how to utilize them, a final solution does not exists. According to some suggestions they are pulverized and used to make wear resistant roads, others try to distil them and produce some kind of fuel.
Difficulties arise also from re-processing some plastic parts. The same applies also to other products made of plastics. However, the single name "plastic" covers a great variety of materials. The properties of these materials, including also the possibility of recycling differs also from type to type. Plastics are generally very resistant to climatic effects (sunshine, rain, frost, etc.), which are an advantage from the point of view of the customer, but it is a great hazard regarding it from the point of view of environment. Plastic bags and boxes remain for a long time intact. Very often they are burned, but most of them develop poisoning gases. Textile industry uses also increasing amount of plastics instead of natural stuff. The recycling of such mixed (or only plastic) textiles is also much more difficult if not impossible than that of pure natural filaments.
Summarizing the above: wastes of any kind will increase all around the world, due to the increasing consumerism. The nature of wastes is also subject of alteration. The remnants get more and more complex, their material more resistant to climate and to natural impacts or even to fire. To eliminate the wastes get more difficult and more expensive, as well as the storage of the increasing amount of wastes is practically impossible.
The only feasible way of mankind in the future is reusing or recycling of all these wastes and this problem has to be solved by engineers. In the first days of technical development the most important task of an engineer was to construct a machine, which could function and execute some operation. Later on he has to be aware to use the most economic processes and materials to generate his instrument. In the future beside all these requirements the engineer has to augur the end of his product. He has to plan also the dismantling of the product, the recycling of the parts and applied materials, because he will be responsible for the feasible developmet.
INTELLIGENT TUTORS COULD ENHANCE LEARNING
Imagine a group of students from around the world designing a Mars habitat in the engineering classroom of the future. Their "room" is a fully immersive audiovisual simulated environment that they can independently access, but through which they share common collective experiences. They represent an integrated team addressing all of the issues associated with creating a self-contained living environment including environmental control, food production, energy management, communications, and medical support. They interact with each other and their environment in a completely natural way. The environment prompts them to ask questions of each other and their virtual teacher and provide real-time analysis of how their alternative habitat designs would react to various conditions likely to occur on Mars. After the collective exercise is completed, students can individually review all elements of the exercise, raise new issues with the virtual teacher, and receive additional individualized instruction. 
Imagine learning about a new subject from someone who knew what you did or did not know about the topic. Imagine learning with someone who could patiently explain and re-explain any points that you did not understand. Someone who would show you realistic illustrations of things too fast, too slow, too large, too small, or too dangerous for you to see on your own in real life. Someone who could help you learn the subject so well that you could teach it to others.
For thousands of years, the ideal learning situation has been one student and one knowledgeable, resourceful, and dedicated tutor. But in modern societies, very few have access to this ideal situation. Most of us are sitting or have sat through large classes, some with inadequate supplies and many with a wide array of distractions. Beyond the indisputable benefits of learning to get along with others, there is little that makes this mass market education attractive. The major limiting factors are two-fold: first, most people can not afford a series of private human tutors for their entire formal education; second, our technological understanding has not allowed us to mass produce a fully-capable computer-based individualized tutoring system. We’re unlikely to overcome the first challenge in the near-term, but the second is one that may yield to focused efforts.
Our challenge, therefore, is to design, develop, and implement a computer-based intelligent tutoring system. Such a system should be highly personalized to the needs and attributes of the individual learner, allow international access, and be affordable (perhaps through variable pricing) to the overwhelming majority of potential users of all ages.
Our challenge is an engineering problem. We seek to achieve a specific outcome within specific technical and economic constraints. However, if we are able to meet the challenge, we will make a significant contribution to the quality of lives of the individuals who would use our product, to the communities in which they live, and to the national and global society. More successful education, such as that to be provided through our intelligent tutor, provides a doorway to the solution of an immense range of societal problems. Engineering is all about design under constraint and the application of knowledge to the solution of human problems.
MEETING THE CHALLENGE
So how do we go about meeting our challenge? A recent report recommends building "an active, informed community" of technical and organizational developers and implementers as well as pursuing a coordinated effort to achieve the outcome goal - a shared educational delivery system comprised of people, organizations, and tools that work interoperably to support learning. Other reports[3-5] in recent years have made similar suggestions.
Part of "building an active, informed community" is getting young people to consider a career in engineering. Engineering as a profession depends heavily on people bringing a variety of viewpoints to the solution of practical problems. Therefore, it’s critical to have the widest possible array of viewpoints. Thus, we need students from all kinds of backgrounds and with all sorts of interests to become engineers. The greater the diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints, the more likely engineers are to consider all the different options and consequences that go into making useful and safe products.
In designing and implementing an intelligent tutor, we will not only need the know-how of those used to creating computer-based devices, but also domain experts, those with the expertise to understand the student’s current mental model, and those knowledgeable in how people learn and how we can effectively promote learning. Over the past few years, we have made tremendous advances in understanding how people learn. These understandings will be reflected in the design for how the intelligent tutor should work.
You can see hints of future intelligent tutoring systems in the design of some of today’s video games, computer games such as Sims, where you control the actions of "people", and courseware such as "Sooner City" http://www.soonercity.ou.edu/, that allows students to design and implement the physical infrastructure for an entire city from the water supply to the transportation systems. Nonetheless, for the foreseeable future, learning technologies, including intelligent tutors, will be most useful when they serve to supplement, not replace, the actions of well-prepared instructors. Just as we have high expectations of a human instructor, we should have similar expectations of the technology used in support of that instructor.
We are beginning to understand how to meet these high expectations, but much work remains to be done[7-9]. Perhaps you can be part of the solution.
1. This scenario adapted from one in "2020 Classroom" by Ulrich Neumann and Chris Kyriakakis, on page 52 in Visions 2020: Transforming Education and Training through Advanced Technologies, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, DC 2002.
2. Information Technology (IT)-Based Educational Materials, The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2002.
3. Planning for Two Transformations in Education and Learning Technology, The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2003..
4. Enhancing Undergraduate Learning with Information Technology: A Workshop Summary, The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2002.
5. Visions 2020: Transforming Education and Training through Advanced Technologies, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, DC 2002.
6. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition, The National Academies Press, Washington, DC 2002.
7. Chickering, Arthur W. and Stephen C. Ehrmann (1996), "Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as Lever", AAHE Bulletin, Vol. 49, Number 2, October, pp. 3-6. Available at <http://aahebulletin.com/public/archive/sevenprinciples.asp>.
8. Gee, James Paul, "From Video Games, Learning About Learning", The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 20, 2003. Available at <http://chronicle.com/weekly/v49/i41/41b01301.htm>.
9. Foreman, Joel, "Next Generation Educational Technology versus the Lecture", EDUCAUSE Review, July/August 2003, pp. 12-22. Available at <http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0340.pdf>.
ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
No other generation has got our challenge - to master the environmental problems and create a sustainable energy system on board the spaceship Earth.
Background. Sustainable development is all about amalgamating economic and social development with protection of the environment and justice between generations. Our information society depends heavily on a reliable energy supply. At the same time there are close to two billion people around the world who are in dire need of modern forms of energy to improve quality of life.
Aided by modern technology, mankind inflicts ever increasing traces on the environment. Feedback on, and connections between global activities constantly grow stronger. International cooperation on climate, development, trade, security and defense will increasingly affect energy systems around the world. Risks, as well as opportunities, become increasingly linked for all inhabitants of the world.
The threat to the earth?s climate is growing more seious. The 1.4-5.8 oC temperature increase expected by the year 2100 (according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has had no equivavelent during the last 10 000 years. The innate sluggishness of the climate system and the long periods of time that are required to realign technological and societal systems, mean that early measurements have to be taken in order to limit the risk of a large temperature increase.
Future energy system changes will take place in a world where most of the attention is shifting towards the developing countries. These densely populated and economically expanding nations will take an ever increasing part of the energy markets. The radical reduction of environmental effects and simultaneous care for the energy needs of a global population, will subject the energy system to enormous changes. We should look at energy as a resource for sustainable development - not as a problem - a resource which benefits health and environment, economy, and safety.
Energy backsight and foresight.The first solar civilisation lasted well into the 18th century, coal dominated in the 19th, mineral oil, natural gas and nuclear fission took significant market shares in the 20th. Will the 21st century see the break through of renewable energies, a new generation of nuclear fission reactors and of hydrogen as an important energy carrier to store and transport renewable energies, and as the clean on-board fuel in the automotive sectors?
Energy system changes take time! The time needed before a new energy source provided its first significant contribution to the global energy mix was never less than a few decades, up to half a century. That was the case when in the second half of the 18th century the industrial exploitation of coal mines in England began which started the industrialization of the world; that was repeated when, one century later, mineral oil and natural gas slowly but steadily began to remove coal from home heating systems and from tenders of locomotives-the automobilization began; once again, a similar process started when in the middle of the 20th century, after the first nuclear reaction in 1938 by Otto Hahn in Berlin, nuclear fission came up which, after more than six decades, now provides some 7% of primary energy equivalent worldwide.
There is no evidence that it will be different for the new energy sources expected in the 21st century, which will have to be researched, developed and demonstrated for quite a number of decades before they gain significant market shares. All of them will follow the classical S-shaped curve of market introduction, which usually begins with a quite modest gradient until, at a first turning point, they enter a self-supported market which, after a second turning point, turns asymptotically into market saturation 30 - 50 years from the first innovation. The consequence is trying to start the innovation process as early as possible and, regardless of any backlashes, see the matter through.
Never humans used only one form of energy, never a new energy form fully replaced its predecessors, the ever growing energy demand needed them all. After coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear fission in the 18th, 19th ,and 20th centuries, in addition to aggressive striving for energy efficiency as well as utilization of all sorts of renewable energies, the 21st century may be the century of hydrogen.
Energy efficiency. For a long time there has been a correlation between economic growth and energy use. In developed countries there are signs of maturity in the energy usage, and a weaker connection between growth and energy demand but a continued increase in electricity use. The potential for higher efficiency is great in the transport, industry and domestic sector.
• Hybrid vehicles result in lower fuel consumption and substantially
better air quality in urban areas.
• New biologcal and material technology allows strong and light
composites as well as material-efficient packaging, which, together
with a lifecycle perspective decreases energy requirements for transportation.
• Both basic and manufacturing industry move toward increased refinement
and processing, and adjustments of the production systems
coupled with more efficient processes within energy intensive
industries limit the increase of electricity use.
• Gas turbine power plants for electricity production have reached energy efficiencies of nearly 40%, steam power plants of 50%, and combined cycles of almost 60% and further improvements are possible with fuel cells.
• New diode-based lighting technology decreases the need of electricity
for lighting, initially for different types of outdoor installations.
• New technology for monitoring and controlling heat and ventilation,
"smart" windows, and energy-efficient appliances result in a decreased
energy consumption in primarily new, but also older buildings.
There are problems with improving energy efficiency in housholds. Energy as such does not interest most consumers and citizens. Instead they want an abundance of goods and services, lit and heated buildings and comfortable and inexpensive transportation. They show interest in protecting the environment, social justice, and in the protection of society from sudden disturbances but basically they look for combinations of convenience and security at low cost. Energy is normally not a major part of the houshold budget so incentives to save energy are lacking. The general trend in developed countries is an almost constant total energy use but a shift from the direct use of fossil fuels to electricity.
HYtime (hydrogen time)? Hydrogen is nothing new. Henry Cavendish and Antoine Lavoisier discovered it in the 1780s. It was William Grove who described a fuel cell as early as 1839. Until now, though, only one industrial branch is energetically dependent on hydrogen, the space business. All other user industries utilize hydrogen non-energetically or indirectly energetically, e.g. hydrogen chemistry, refineries, the glass industry, electronics manufacturing, fat hardening and methanol or ammonia syntheses or the cooling of electric generators.
However, hydrogen and fuel cells are now in focus of research and development in laboratories and workshops of industry and academia for three reasons:
• The automobile needs hydrogen to reduce the threat of climate change
• Renewable energies depend on a storable and transportable chemical energy carrier
• Hydrogen supported fuel cells open up highly efficient energy conversion near the consumer.
Hydrogen’s importance goes further. Hydrogen and electricity have much in common: they strengthen the secondary energy economy; they are being generated from all sorts of primary energies; once generated, they are environmentally and climatically clean; electricity and hydrogen are grid delivered and interdependent via electrolysis and fuel cell. Hydrogen decentralizes the electricity economy, since power can be generated via fuel cells also at the energy chain’s back end.
At the front end of its energy conversion chain, hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels where so far inexperienced sequestration of co-produced carbon dioxide is urgent, or by electrolytic water splitting into hydrogen and oxygen in those world regions where electricity is inexpensive. In future, production of solar hydrogen from all sorts of renewable energies is envisaged.
At its back end, the hydrogen infrastructure needs improvement and built-up. Turbines, compressors, storages of any kind, liquefaction plants, or pipelines will be complemented by portable, stationary, or mobile fuel cells, William Grove’s energy converter which is not a heat engine and, consequently, independent of intermittent high temperature heat and, on principle, delivers electricity more efficiently.
The upcoming hydrogen energy economy is by far not an illusion, but a realistic vision. This vision, however, needs actions in order to prevent it from degrading to becoming illusive.
Truly, the hydrogen energy economy is, like energy in general, like mobility or transportation, an international challenge, rather than a national one.
Most hydrogen technologies are on-hand, or are responsibly expected to be on-hand, soon. Hydrogen storage and sequestration of CO2 when hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels are still of major concern.
Hydrogen energy is insurable; the risks are considered of being not higher than the risks the insurers face today. On a long run, it seems even possible that risks become smaller, since, with the help of hydrogen energy, the anthropogenic influence on the climate shrinks.
Absolutely necessary is an international accord on climate change abatement measures. Policy makers and regulators have to agree on binding agreements, at least in a first approach those policy makers and regulators in the industrial world. Industry can not be expected to commit on extraordinary investments without being on safe grounds.
Old technologies will fight back.Fossil fuels and nuclear will not be easily replaced. Natural gas will grow in importance in the next decades.Electricity from natural gas is what will be available if nuclear power is phased out after a life time of 40 years.
If the reactors are used for 60 years there will be real possibilities to replace the nuclear power with new carbon dioxide-free electricity production. Applications approved by the US supervisory authority show that the operational running-time can be extended by 60 years. Major overhauls and modernizations are required to accomplish this, but the electricity costs will still remain at half the price of new electricity from fossil fuels or renewables.
Solar-based alternatives other than hydroelectric power should be able to increase their market shares in the near future. The only condition is that there must be a demand for carbon dioxide-free and renewable electricity production. This is especially true for wind power
and electricity production based on the gasification of biofuels, as well as for different types of waste.
Another alternative which may be realized within a few decades is a new generation of nuclear power, which will be economically competitive, safer, more fuel-efficient, and generate smaller amounts of long-lived nuclear waste. One reactor that presently draws much attention is the pebble-bed modular reactor. Transmutation is a new technology that could radically reduce the amount of long-life nuclear waste. The European aim is to have a smaller
functioning transmutation prototype within 20 years, and a full-scale version in 40 years time.
Can a new generation of nuclear power with decreased meltdown risks and shorter half-life for the bulk of the nuclear waste - from several hundreds of thousands of years to a few hundred years - gain widespread acceptance? Will we experience more reactor failures? Will nuclear power be a viable alternative in a deregulated and privatized electricity market? These are pivotal issues for the future of nuclear power.
Yet another alternative is continued electricity production based on fossil fuels but with sequestration of carbon dioxide, which will be appropriately stored in suitable geological formations. The first coal fired power plant with carbondioxide sequestration could be built within ten years, if the right incentives are provided.
During a transitional period which stretches beyond the middle of this centuary both natural gas and nuclear power will be key elements in the bridge to a solar and hydrogen society.
With the right conditions, a natural gas expansion could simplify the transition to hydrogen as an energy medium. While we wait for solar-based solutions, hydrogen can be produced from natural gas, and the natural gas distribution systems can be used for hydrogen at a
later stage, pending design and choice of materials.
The use of natural gas can also be combined with more distributed systems - e.g. small scale CHP plants, often gas fired - which also creates the conditions for a gradual alignment with an infrastructure capable of supporting a hydrogen/electricity/solar network.
Concluding remarks. We take it for granted that various forms of energy will always be available for a multitude of purposes and at acceptable prices. During the last few years the climate issue has been highlighted, which in turn will change the conditions for the use of alternative sources of energy. Carbon dioxide is the most important of the greenhouse gases, and it is closely associated with the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas. These fossil fuels play dominant roles in the world’s energy supply. Far-reaching measures to decrease carbon dioxide emissions will thus greatly affect the ways in which we use fossil fuels and non-carbon dioxide generating sources of energy.
The co-operation of the triade of industry, science and government is indispensable. Science and technology provide the technology bases, the innovations, the systems; industry follows the market criteria, installs the production units, builds up the infrastructures and manages them; the government sets safety and fiscal framework conditions and furthers acceptability among users. And all of this not at all only nationally, but rather globally, because energy is nothing national, energy converters are nothing national alone.
It’s HYtime - the transfer into the hydrogen energy economy may be the energy centerpiece of the 21st century.
This is not to say that the energy future is without problems. But there are also opportunities for our generation to build a sustainable energy system.
INFORMATION SOCIETY IN THE 21ST CENTURY
AND THE INFORMATION & COMMUNICATION REVOLUTION
I. INFORMATION & COMMUNICATION AS MEANS FOR ROUTINE
Since their appearance in the world, human beings have exchanged their emotions and minds. Karl Raimund Popper, who was a philosopher, defined that human beings originated from their ability to communicate their existences. Communication between humans is the source of human life. Proper use of communication is a core element allowing human beings to enjoy life.
Communication has brought a large development in scope and depth as it passed through the self-development process due to the information constituting communication and media transmitting it. Unlike a language with high possibility of disappearance, pictures or letters allowed an individual’s thought to communicate to later generations beyond temporal and spatial limits. The appearance of the book, which was called a revolution in communication, provided the break-through momentum for communicating thoughts and emotions to large audiences. Benedict Anderson said the book, especially newspapers, was a necessary condition for building the foundation of society. Radio and TV, which came later, have been strong vehicles in communicating thoughts to much wider audience, facilitating the formation of groups based on common interests.
The information society in the 21st Century is dominated by technology and service, which combines information and communication. This is called information and communication revolution.
Information and communication (I&C) is characterized by digitization, information processing in the process of communication, cyber space, and interactivity allowing feedback between communication subjects.
The author of these lines will consider the differences between I&C and conventional communication media, and what our young generation should think about in regard to the future of I&C and human beings.
II. NATURE OF INFORMATION & COMMUNICATION
In our routine, it is rare that communication is separated from the term ‘information’. This is because information itself, which is the object of communication, is revalued and processed during communication. The characteristics which brought I&C revolution are summarized as follows:
Conventional media, for example, telephone and TV must access different communication channels. Pictures can be seen, while they cannot be read. Telephone calls can be heard, while they cannot be read. Because of these limits unique to each medium, we must own a variety of networks for communication. We have to go to the bookstore to buy a book. We have to go to the gallery to see a picture. We have to use public telephone or mobile phone to make a phone call.
However, digitization changes all these things radically. Binary scale comprising 0 and 1 accepts all things, even though it is simple. Providing a strong power to communication beyond temporal and spatial limits, digitization converts all kinds of information, which are subjects of communication including text, graphics, voice and video, into binary code, transmitting it over a digital network. Converging all the communication channels into one digital network. In his book Being Digital, Nicholas Negroponte said that digitization, “bringing convergence is the source of I&C revolution”.
2. Information Processing
If digitization provided the logical source for the I&C revolution, the power of information processing realized the revolution.
In 1965, Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, predicted that the ability of microprocessors to process information would double every 18 months. As he forecast, information processing speed has increased by several million times at the same ratio (Moore’s law). Intel and Microsoft, based respectively on the expansion of ‘clock frequency’ as the processing speed of semiconductor and on the software ‘version up’, enabled the digitization process in which the communication-targeted media is modulated into digital media, which is in turn demodulated into perceivable media.
As communication objects have been transmitted over an integrated network, online communication has been expanded. Conventional communication takes the face-to-face off-line form, while newly-emerged communication takes the on-line form in which groups sharing the same interests build a series of communities. These groups share the information created over the network, and create new information through the shared information. Online communication provides another space beyond our three-dimensional world. Nowadays, they say “I am on-line, therefore I am” although it has been only 20 years that William Gibson introduced his famous coined word ‘cyber space’ in his novel Neuromancer. This reflects that on-line communication has been established as a culture, through chat or messenger service.
The most powerful weapon in the medieval religious society was the information contained in the Bible, held by priests. It was the strongest power dominating medieval society. Before PCs appeared in the 1980s, only executives had access to information, and used it to control the enterprise. With the appearance of PCs, all this changed. Today, information in a company is transmitted equally to the all levels of the organization. Executives and managers no longer have power based on the control of information. This breaks down the pyramid style organization in which the upper level controls the lower levels. Therefore, emphasis is put on the self-sustenance of each division.
The appearance of PCs has converted information from the private goods of the minority to the public goods of the majority. The connection between PCs and a network has changed the world into an information network by using their amoebic and strong self-propagation ability.
Each individual existing inside an information network acts as an information source and is an information user. Alvin Toffler called such individual a “prosumer” in his The Third Wave.
III. FUTURE OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION
1. Future Course of I&C
I&C is entering into the stage of enriching communication service. Users do not want to remain satisfied with ‘doing communication’. They demand faster, more reliable and more cross-functional I&C services.
Through this process, I&C has penetrated our life. I&C technologies will graft on to the conventional non-I&C technologies. I&C equipment or technologies will be embedded in the objects, realizing the situation where users “use I&C without knowing its existence”.
Through this development process, I&C will march towards an ‘economic and convenient communications enabled anytime, anywhere, on any device and in any media’.
Digital convergence will start from communication media, and transfer to terminal checking the media and finally, to the network carrying the media. Media convergence started early 1990s has already reached its completion stage, and nowadays, strong marches toward terminal-based convergence are seen. The equipments like the smart phone (PDA + mobile phone), which are the integrated combinations of home appliance, information equipment and communication equipment that provide additional functions, have appeared in close succession under the banner of Post-PC. Together with current terminal based convergence, inter-network convergence integrating broadcasting, communication and information networks will be shown in the future.
In regard to information processing, conventional semiconductor technologies will reach their physical limits. To overcome these restrictions, efforts will be made to obtain new ideas from biotechnology (BT) and nano-technology (NT) when communication technology reaches at its limit.
3. Network Advancement
Broadband networks are a must for communicating vast amounts of information. Changing the backbone network into broadband network was an important issue until 2000. At present, the last mile connection is the most important issue. Last mile networks were developed on the basis of wired connections. However, wireless technology and broadband technology have been developed vigorously from the standpoint of cost-effectiveness. In case of the backbone networks, NGN (Next Generation Network) concept introduced since 1995 will materialize, and convergence will march towards the integration of broadcasting and wired/wireless connection.
Positive responses to ubiquitous computing are expected in the future. This has been a hot issue, since it was first developed in 1998 by Mark Weiser of Xerox USA. Ubiquitous service means that users can gain access to network anywhere. The starting point of ubiquitous computing will be e-logistics based on RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and sensor networks, both of which have been recently spotlighted.
4. Maximized Utilization of I&C
The recent I&C revolution has only spread among a small portion of world’s population. Expensive terminals and networks, both of which are indispensable for using the I&C service have a high entry cost. This is one of the important reasons why IMT-2000 service is delayed.
This has turned our eyes to the technologies for improving the performance of conventional networks. IP(Internet Protocol) is a traditionally important technology in this field. Attention has been paid to IPv6 (IP version 6) which expands IP address length from 32 bit to 128 bit. This provides one billion times more IP addresses than all the sands of the earth.
Also, methods for reducing the capacity of transmitted media are being discussed, and technologies for doubling computers’ abilities are being developed. For example, Grid Computing is the concept of connecting multiple PCs into one network, making a machine with performance superior to super-computer. This concept is applied by SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) which uses several hundreds of thousands of home PCs to interpret the extraterrestrial signals received.
The technologies in the field of interface, like voice recognition and automatic translation, have shown considerable development. However, these technologies have not reached the full understanding of natural language. Therefore, greater technology development is required.
The author of these lines has discussed the basic characteristics of I&C and its future course. However, it is true that the I&C revolution does not provide only positive effects like improved quality of life. Information, such as new goods have brought about digital divide, which is another form of the gap between poor and rich, between developed countries and developing countries, and between high-educated and poor-educated. Another social problem is that cyber-addiction means that life in cyber space which encroaches upon real life is sharply spreading among the youth.
In spite of these bad effects, it is certain that the I&C revolution has brought more benefits to human beings than those found in the history of communication revolutions as the book and TV. Young people that have an interest in I&C and are looking for the ways of realizing the future happiness of human beings through I&C should pay attention to the following problems and seek for their solutions.
First, they should pay more attention to the standardization of I&C, which is promoted on a world scale, as a standard for transmitting various communication media over an integrated network. It is absolutely necessary to prevent the physical duplication of investment by concentrating the knowledge resources of human beings through standardization. It must be remembered that a proper compromise between consensus and speed, and between ex-ante position and ex-post position is a core element for successful standardization.
Second, a future-oriented and long-term vision is needed. This vision may not be ideal but must be realistic (OSI vs. IP). It must not be supplier-driven but user-driven (Pentium IV vs. Pentium V). Also, it is necessary to develop a vision that is not proposed and led by a minority but reflects the opinions and interests of all the members of our society .
Third, efforts should be made to minimize I&C related costs and eliminate the digital divide so that the benefits of I&C are not given to a minority but spread among all the people in the world.
Based on the demand for new-concept services, I&C technologies show continuous development are various and complex. In addition to I&C technology, BT (Bio technology), CT (Culture technology), ET (Environment technology), NT (Nano technology) and ST(Space technology) are referred as future high technologies. Since all these are based on I&C technology, young people have an unlimited objective, for which they realize their dreams.
TRANSPORTATION AND PRIVATE VEHICLES
Since 1886 when the first vehicle emerged, the global automotive industry has been significantly developed from scratch. With the tremendous growth of the automobile production, relevant technologies have been dramatically evoked and innovated worldwide. Today, the automotive industry is characterized by high profitability, the demand of multi disciplines as well as intense concentration of capital, technology and expertise while automobiles are broadly accepted as one of indispensable transportation tools.
The popularity of automobiles has actually enabled car ownership to symbolize the quality of life as statistics indicate that the vehicle volume increases with the income per capita. Actually, most developed countries are observed to be with widespread car ownership and substantial vehicle volume. Meanwhile, many developing countries begin to witness the growth of their vehicle volume as both cars and trucks are increasingly owned by urban and rural populations. With the efficiencies and the conveniences they bring to people’s life, private vehicles have been tremendously embraced all over the world..
However, unfortunately, the emergence of automobile and the boom of its application undermine the quality of life by triggering social problems such as energy crisis, air pollution, traffic jam and high level of noise. The increase of vehicle volume actually tends to aggravate these problems and pose social stresses and costs that rise along with the extent of environmental threat as well as the demand of fuel, traffic capacity, their logistical infrastructures and constructions. Consequently, the whole world is exposed to the challenges on how to cope with the environmental issues such as identifying energy source alternatives, constraining the harmful and greenhouse emissions, alleviating the traffic congestion and reducing the noise level, etc.
1、 Middle East Region
2、 Latin America
5、 North America
6、 Asian Pacific Region
（1 barrel＝158987 L）
As the chart above illustrates, the global petroleum storage in total is of approximately 10500 billion barrels by the end of 2001. It is also estimated by researchers that given the existing petroleum storage and expansion rate of global industries, it will be merely 40 to 50 years prior to the absence of petroleum in the planet of earth. Building on this, it is very likely that in near future, the lack of petroleum supply ends up with the surge of crude oil price. In term of automotive industry where its products are traditionally recognized as prime fossil fuel consumers, its further development has been put with a question mark.
In addition to energy crisis, the exhaust gases of fossil fuel vehicles also pose great environmental impacts. The by-products of gasoline or diesel combustion contain a variety of potentially harmful gases and particles that are released to atmosphere. Among them, a few pollutants are most concerned by the public. They include carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC), nitrogen oxides (NOX), ozone (which results from the emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides), particles and some toxic hydrocarbons such as benzene. Of those, carbon monoxide poses a serious threat to the health particularly to that of fetuses and people afflicted by heart disease. Also, high level of CO tends to affect the well being of people in good health condition. Exposure to high level of CO level is also likely to impair visions, working capabilities, manual dexterity, learning abilities and performances of complex tasks. In contrast, nitrogen oxides also have adverse effects on health and the environment. NOX allows not only the
formation of acid deposition but also the high level of particulate matter when reacts with air to form nitric acid and in turn the nitrate. Usually, particulate matter exists in the air for a long time and when highly concentrated, can pose adverse affects on human health, poor visibility and corrosion on materials. Moreover, components of particulate matter such as sulfuric or nitric acid tend to lead acid deposition. In addition to the pollutants of direct adverse effects, greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), and methane (CH4) can be also identified in the vehicle emissions.
In response to the public requests to tackle these social problems, the whole automotive industry highlights energy saving and environmental protection as two major tasks of future development. In an attempt to lessen the dependence on fossil fuel and in turn, the harmful emissions, worldwide researches have been underway to explore new technologies and alternative fuels.
As today’s typical vehicles are powered by gasoline or diesel fueled engines, researchers have developed a number of advanced engine technologies for lower fuel consumption and cleaner emissions. In term of gasoline engines, most technologies, in combination with the catalytic after-treatment, focus on achieving the properly and evenly blended air/fuel mixture to meet the full range of the combustion requirements to restrict the harmful emissions. Although there is limited room for gasoline engines to significantly improve thermal efficiency, researchers intend to obtain the potentially higher efficiency of part-load engines and wider high-efficiency area in the engine performance chart by reducing the power loss due to frictions and gas pumping. This improvement can be realized by reducing throttling losses through a series of valve train control technologies. Examples include variable valve timing, variable valve stroke as well as throttleless “valvetronic”engine technology.
Recently, some engine manufactures initiate to develop gasoline direct-injection (GDI) and stratified lean combustion processes to acquire better engine thermal and part-load efficiencies. However, the technology exposes the engine designers to a great challenge as new catalyst processes are required by the engine systems to effectively remove nitrogen oxides from the environment where free oxygen exists.
In term of diesel engines, new designs incorporate a wide variety of technologies that enable better performance and fuel economy and meanwhile reduce emissions. Most new designs adopt the technology of high-injection pressure in combination with the common-rail unit injection system, advanced injection timing management, turbocharger, after-cooler and an integrated exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) manifold system. Additionally, a new propulsion theory called homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) for diesel engines has been introduced to the applications. It refers that if the fuel/air ratio and starting temperatures and pressures are all appropriately controlled, there is no chance for the combustion to be in a temperatures higher than 1850K and with the low temperature, no particulate or NO2 can be generated. Unfortunately, up to now, the HCCI engines are unable to deliver sufficient output due to the difficulties to ensure correct fuel/air ratios.
As the right figure demonstrates, another approach to achieve better fuel economy lies on how to get rid of excessive vehicle weight as lighter vehicle means better efficiency of power train and less fuel consumption. It explains why the high-strength steels are now broadly applied in body structures to provide lighter vehicles without or with the least compromise to strengths and additional costs. In theory, the replacement of traditional steels by high-strength steels is able to reduce 15 percent of fuel consumption. Along with high-strength steels, aluminum or fiber-reinforced plastic composites can also be applied to weight reduction. However, the applications of these two materials possibly mean the trade off with safety. Besides, cost and recycle-ability of raw materials as well as the disposing cost of scrapped vehicles also determine the application prospect of the lighter material alternatives. It is worth highlighting that the recycling of metal materials especially aluminum tends to significantly c
ontribute to the energy and cost savings. In the light of this, some researches are underway on developing a multi-purpose alloy that would meet both engineering and environment requirements.
Apart from cleaner combustion and lighter vehicle, the exploitation on diminishing air drag and tire resistance also provide the possibilities to reduce energy losses. The decade following 1990s witnesses the fall of vehicle drag coefficient from a typical level of 0.3 to today’s 0.25, which excludes the even lower figures from some concept cars of high cost and the elimination of exterior mirrors and other items. Among various vehicle operations, high way drives are proven to be benefiting most from the drag reduction. In parallel with the drag reduction, innovations on tire design also provide improvements on traction optimization, noise decrease and ride comfort.
However, whatever we do with fossil fuel vehicles, it is merely a certain extent that the fuel consumption can be constrained and automotive threats to environment can be alleviated. In that sense, the development of automotive industry needs to be committed to the missions such as comprehensive utilization of energy, zero emission and low level of noise.
In pursuit of these missions, researchers resort to the electric vehicles where the high efficiency of energy utilization allows energy source reliability and balance without having to threaten the environment. On one hand, no energy is to be consumed when electric vehicles have to stop. On the other hand, the wheel motors are designed to act as generators to charge the batteries during decelerating or braking. However, the pitfalls of electric vehicles are identified as the high cost in associated with the energy sources and low operation mileage due to insufficient energy density of the batteries.
Of the energy sources for electric vehicle applications, fuel cell propulsion systems provide the power supply from onboard fuel cells. Basically, a fuel cell is an electrochemical device that produces electricity by debonding the hydrogen molecule into electrons and protons (hydrogen ions) via a catalyst. Since the fuel is transformed directly into electricity, a fuel cell can operate in higher efficiencies than internal combustion engines by extracting more electricity from a certain volume of fuel without heat losses as in internal combustion engines. Moreover, the fuel cell itself has no moving parts, making it a quiet and reliable source of energy. Currently, fuel cell technologies are being developed in a number of forms such as phosphoric acid fuel cell, molten carbonate fuel cell, solid oxide fuel cell, alkaline fuel cell, direct methanol fuel cell and regenerative fuel cell etc. In term of the transportation application, the proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell has demonstrated a few advantages,
which include its low operating temperature (about 200℉ or 95℃), high power density and ability to rapidly adjust the output in response to the variation of the power demand.
Also, there are fundamental problems with fuel cell technology lying in the fuel selection, fabrication, distribution and storage. Of all fuel cell applications, only direct hydrogen fuel cell can be characterized by truly zero emissions. However, hydrogen infrastructure and onboard storage pose a huge challenge.
In contrast, hybrid vehicles, as another option of electric vehicles, have been in a significant development in purposes of energy economy and environmental protection. Being equipped with traditional engine as well as electric motor, hybrid vehicles operates by heat power system and electric power system alternatively in an attempt to save fuel and lower emissions. On one hand, engines operate merely in full throttle and optimum speeds to maintain the best efficiency. On the other hand, the hybrid systems allow engine being shut off during vehicle stops, braking, deceleration and even low power operation,. Besides, a rechargeable battery system is used to supplement power when required. At low speeds or during stops, unless being shut off, the combustion engine is designed to charge the battery system from power surplus.
To obtain higher efficiency, some hybrid vehicles are designed to utilize the regenerative energy from braking aiming to recharge the battery. This type of hybrid offers major improvements on efficiency in term of urban operations. With hybrid systems, smaller engines can be applied to remarkably lower the total emissions. Furthermore, given the fully charged battery, the engines are allowed to shut off during the stops.
TABLE: Percentage of Time Spent and Fuel Consumed by a Typical U.S. Car during Vehicle Stops and Braking in Different Urban Driving Cycles
Driving Cycle Vehicle Stops Vehicle Braking Total Engine Idle
Time Fuel Time Fuel Time Fuel
FTP 19.2 11.6 23.6 14.2 42.8 25.8
Japan 29.2 19.1 23.1 15.2 52.3 34.3
Europe 24.9 14.5 15.7 9.2 40.6 23.7
NOTE: FTP=Federal Test Procedure (U.S.)
Above table portrays the time and fuel consumption shares during vehicle stops and braking on the basis of a typical U.S. car driven at urban cycles in the United States, Japan, and Europe. As it exhibits, the vehicle spends a significant amount of time and fuel during both stops and braking implying that the potential of fuel saving for energy idle-off is quite huge. Actually, if engine start-stop is designed to recover energy losses during vehicle stops, approximately 12 to 19 percent of fuel could be saved for a vehicle operating in these cycles. The fuel savings would be even higher if engine start-stop is designed to recover entire engine idling losses. If properly designed, the technology of hybridation is deemed to facilitate this type of fuel saving.
On one hand, the key technologies of hybrid vehicles incorporate those of electronic control as well as those of power system optimization and control. Once well designed and matched, the systems can expect to save approximately 50 percent of fuel and to reduce 80 percent of emission. Meanwhile, 30 percent could be reclaimed with braking energy reclaim technology. On the other hand, the disadvantages of hybrid rest on the extra materials and weight having to arise from the application of the dual power systems. Consequently, trade offs on cost and efficiency exist in association with the extra components of the electric systems. Generally, the higher the battery capacity is in application, the greater the weight and cost are resulted.
In parallel with the exploitations on electric vehicles, international society has also been committed to the researches on alternative fuels since the first petroleum crisis in 1973. Along with the attempts to identify the alternative fuels, researches are undertaken to develop fabrication technologies of new fuel. First of all, compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquid petrol gas (LPG) are all acknowledged today as “clean fuel” as environmental protection becomes increasingly important today. Next to CNG and LPG, methanol from coal or bed gas could be used either as an additive to gasoline forming M15(85 percent gasoline-15 percent methanol) mixture or simply as a pure fuel. However, methanol from coal or bed gas does not save energy nor reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Likewise, dimethyl ether from coal or coal bed gas provides a good alternative to gasoline and diesel. Though, the applications of methanol and dimethyl ether are to some extent restricted due to the high costs of refinement process and the
difficulties in storage. Finally, researchers are also in an effort to exploit the application possibility of hydrogen. In case hydrogen is found to be a realistic fuel alternative in near future (in 20 years), natural gas is likely to be one of the most cost effective sources in term of the hydrogen production. Moreover, it is also highly likely that the hydrogen productions are carried out by service shops within the pipe network of the gas supply.
As discussed early, energy and environmental issues are only part of the social problems arising from the uses of the automobile. Challenges lie in traffic management and noise control as well. Firstly, the continuous aggregation of the private vehicles tends to aggravate the urban traffic congestion where low speed operations and idlings domain to allow greater fuel consumption and higher level of air pollution. Secondly, the growth of private car ownership also stresses the scarcity of parking places. Finally, traffic congestion is deemed to result in increasing rate of accident and higher intensity of noise. According to statistics, traffic accounts for 80 percent of downtown noises, which are proven to be harmful to human hearing, nerve, heart and blood vessels, assimilation, internal secretion and immune systems. Though more traffic infrastructures need to be provided to satisfy the mounting demand for road transportation, the road constructions are generally constrained due to the limited resources. As
another resort to tackle the traffic jam, traffic planning and construction are required to incorporate a series of optimizations on issues such as the process of construction, the structure of road network, the framework of urban traffic as well as the utilization of time and space resources. Actually, intelligent transportation system (ITS), a brand new trinity system of people (including the drivers and administrators), road and vehicle, is under development and construction in the light of the most advanced information technology. ITS makes use of existing road facilitates to reduce traffic jam as well as to consolidate the centralized management and dispatch of vehicles, through which, the drivers can be exposed to adequate information on traffic and entertainment etc. By doing that, the system actually realizes a harmonious integration in dimensions of people, vehicles and roads.
Technologically, one of the key tasks with ITS is to precisely detect the location of the vehicle through the tool of global positioning system (GPS). Combined with electronic map, radio-communication network and computer-aided vehicle management system, the GPS navigation system is able to fulfill the functions like vehicle tracking and traffic management where examples include providing the route plan and travel guidance. To accomplish these tasks, two methods are developed. On one hand, given the departure and arrival locations, the optimized route, say the shortest or the simplest, can be automatically worked out by specialized software. On the other hand, with the fixed routes, the electronic map can be generated with the indications of the departure, arrival, by-pass locations as well as the positions of the vehicle during the course of the travel. Through GPS, the operating center is allowed to oversee the vehicle operation in any particular region and in turn to manage the vehicle flows accordingly. M
eanwhile, the operating center can also conduct the communication with the tracked targets as well as instructions at any time.
For the reasons above, developing and establishing ITS play an essential role in substantially consolidating the transportation efficiency, the transportation safety, the ride comfort, the environment quality and the energy utilization. As its knowledge involvement over multiple engineering fields, automotive industry tends to pose the challenges from a number of aspects and even in the global range. In this sense, it requires that international researchers as a whole persist on substantial R&D activities through collaborative efforts to tackle the challenges. Meanwhile, strategically, to globally achieve the sustainable development, more enthusiastic youths and prestigious scholars need to devote themselves to the R&D exploitations on effective solutions in order to transform automobile into a harm-free transportation tool to better serve mankind.
FUTURE CHALLENGES IN BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING
What is biomedical engineering?
Astounding progress has been made in medical science over the last half-century. At the same time, remarkable advances have taken place in electronic and mechanical engineering, computer science and engineering, and in information and communication technologies (ICT). It is not always realised that this medical progress has been, and continues to be, absolutely dependent on these engineering advances. This linkage is exemplified by the introduction of an increasing number of the most varied, frequently extraordinarily complex and sophisticated, electromedical devices and equipment into everyday medical practice. There has also been an explosive growth in ICT, firstly in the administrative and financial areas of management and, most recently, in medical practice as well.
Biomedical engineering is the application of the principles of engineering to the solution of problems in biology and medicine, with particular reference to the techniques, devices and procedures used to diagnose and treat patients with disease. In this definition, the distinction between engineering and physics is far from clear: at the very least, biomedical engineering involves both engineering and applied physics. Moreover, the field is exceptionally highly multidisciplinary. Examples of this multidisciplinarity include biomedical instrumentation, medical imaging, biological signal analysis, medical informatics, clinical engineering, biomechanics, rehabilitation engineering, prosthetic devices and artificial organs, biomaterials, biosensors, cellular and tissue engineering, biological transport phenomena, physiological modelling, biological effects of electromagnetic fields, to name but a few. A well-trained biomedical engineer is ideally suited to work at the intersection of engineering with mathemat
ical and physical sciences, biology and medicine, in order to solve real clinical problems. Although biomedical engineers are primarily engineers, they need to have a firm grasp of the biology and medicine that is relevant to their work. Sometimes, their knowledge of the particular medical processes with which they happen to be concerned can be as detailed as that of any medical doctor.
Nowadays, medical practice in developed countries is often completely dependent on engineering. Modern hospitals are full of devices, instruments and machines that have been designed and produced by engineers, usually working in collaboration with other healthcare professionals including doctors, nurses, biochemists, physicists, microbiologists and technologists of various specialties. Examples range from the pumps that administer drugs to patients, through the instruments that monitor heart beats and other vital functions, to the hugely complicated scanners that produce detailed three-dimensional images of the internal body structures. Engineering devices are also essential for many kinds of treatments: examples include implanted pacemakers that maintain the function of the heart, artificial joints that replace those damaged by disease, and synthetic blood vessels.
Progress in medical engineering has never been more rapid than it is today. Medical engineering innovations will continue to revolutionise clinical practice whether by providing solutions to the challenges of obtaining fast and reliable diagnosis, providing effective and less traumatic therapies, managing the burgeoning volumes of data, or by the discovery and development of radically new technologies leading to completely novel procedures.
Visions of the future
It will be an unusual and perhaps a foolish person whose genetic profile is not stored in an accessible database. People will be able to live in smart houses equipped with sensors to monitor the status of their health. Everyone will have access to regular screening so that many diseases will effectively be preventable by early detection and treatment. Efficient noninvasive sensor-based procedures will be designed to monitor and evaluate health status of citizens and, particularly, their cardiovascular and locomotor systems. Gait and motion analysis is an area in which sophisticated new procedures will be developed and introduced into clinical practice. These technologies will also be applicable in sports medicine, to aid athletes to reach their full potential. On the other hand, those with disabilities will be assisted by unobtrusive and intelligent devices to help with their mobility and dexterity and to compensate for deficient cognitive and physiological functions.
Access to the virtual world will be easy and intuitive, so that the "cyberphysician" will largely be able to undertake many of the functions currently in the realm of the general practitioner. The cyberphysician will be able to guide patients through the management of their illnesses while in their homes, arranging for the timely provision of the appropriate medicines. If a patient needs to go by ambulance to hospital as the result of an accident or an emergency, the vehicle will be equipped to initiate an accurate diagnosis so that no time will be wasted on arrival. The scanners in the hospital will make clear and realistic pictures of the inside of the body, supplemented by information from laboratory tests using automated analysers.
The treatment which the patient receives will be determined by computer, balancing the costs against the benefits, and following evidence-based ethical protocols. Internal and external sensors will be able continuously to measure the response to treatment. Many of the people who look after the patient will not be medically qualified but will be highly skilled practitioners trained in specialised diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. The doctors and all the other staff will have access to clinical data on a need-to-know basis through hand-held wireless personal digital assistants, thus avoiding information overload and protecting the confidentiality of the patients. Similar processes will take place within the teams of professionals concerned with conducting training of athletes, often in outdoor field conditions. This will improve the training process significantly, since it will be based at a more quantitative level using physiological feed-back information from sensors, unavailable previously. All thi
s will significantly and positively influence the broad field of sports medicine.
If anything other than the simplest surgical intervention should be necessary, this will be performed by image-guided instruments, which, in the most complex procedures, will be operated by robots. The air in the operating room will be virtually free from bacteria so that the risk of infection will be trivial. The anaesthetic agents will be automatically delivered to maintain the patient at the optimal level of awareness by feedback control from sensors in and on the body. If body parts need to be replaced, this will be with biologically-compatible engineered systems made either from living tissue or from artificial materials. Many interventional procedures will be virtually without trauma to the patient, who will not even have to stay in the hospital overnight. Back home, the patient will be empowered to manage recovery and convalescence, both of which will be rapid, again often in the care of the cyberphysician. Following this, rehabilitation will frequently depend on the provision and maintenance of a
ppropriate assistive technologies.
At the other end of the healthcare spectrum, in the developing world, the potential exists greatly to improve diagnosis and therapy and to increase access to appropriate technologies. Clearly, in such countries, there will never be sufficient resources to emulate what will happen in the developed world. The mainstay of diagnosis will likely still be simple X-ray and ultrasonic imaging, both of which are relatively inexpensive but which need to be adapted for the local environment. There will be a limited range of inexpensive but effective medicines. The operating room will be equipped with general-purpose anaesthetic facilities and simple and reliable instruments.
Outside the hospital, there are often strong support groups, but appropriate assistive technologies, such as artificial limbs and wheelchairs, still need to be improved. For all this to be effective, the training and mentoring of the medical and quasimedical, nursing and technical staff will perhaps be the most vital component. Although national self-sufficiency will be desirable, the great distances from the specialist centres to the smaller townships and the need for appropriate tuition and advice from centres in the developed world will mean that telemedicine and ICT systems will be absolutely indispensable. Telemedicine and e-health are powerful tools increasingly used by health practitioners around the world. Irrespective of distance and the availability of medical specialists on site, these technologies will facilitate medical care, particularly in developing countries. Five issues, however, are unresolved in telemedicine. These are: clinical expectations and medical effectiveness; matching technol
ogy to medical needs; economics of telemedicine; legal and social issues; and organisational factors. Despite these problems, however, telemedicine continues to be an essential element in health services delivery in the twenty-first century and significant growth is certain.
Some medical challenges to which engineering might provide solutions
Medical progress is driven both by the identification of problems that need to be solved - "clinical pull" - or by the invention of new devices or processes, the application of which may move medical practice into radically new areas - "technology push". History provides many examples: to choose but two from engineering, the plethora of paperwork has led to the development of the electronic patient record and the invention of the laser has made possible previously undreamt-of surgical procedures. In the following paragraphs, just a few of the vast number of future challenges for engineering are discussed. They have been selected at random: they could have been drawn from vascular diseases, cancer, mental health, diabetes and so on. The purpose is to give a flavour of the excitement and potential of biomedical engineering, not to be comprehensive.
The Human Genome Project was one of the most significant scientific endeavours in the world in the 1990s. The objective was to discover the entire sequence of the genetic code that is the key to health and disease. This massive task involved the identification of all the approximately 30000 genes in human DNA and the determination of the three billion chemical base pairs of which it is composed. The result of this research is that it is now becoming possible to diagnose and predict diseases, all of which, to a greater or lesser extent, have a genetic component, and to develop new and effective methods of combating them. Vital to this effort has been the development of devices including automatic sequencers, robotic liquid-handling equipment and software for databasing and sequence assembly.
The challenge for engineering is now to devise novel and cost-effective approaches to enable the benefits of this new knowledge to extend to individuals, whether to predict their susceptibility to diseases, to diagnose the nature of diseases or to treat them by genetic means. For example, successful therapy may require the delivery of healthy genes into the individual cells within the patient's body: a bioengineering technique that promises to make this possible involves localised exposure to ultrasonic waves in the presence of tiny precision encapsulated gas bubbles which can make the cell walls temporarily porous to the ingress of the genetic material.
Aging and disability pose what will arguably become the most pressing sociomedical problem in the coming century. Today, younger people globally predominate, with a fairly steady reduction in population with age and very few living beyond 100 years. By 2050, in the least developed regions, there will be approximately equal numbers in all age ranges up to about 40 years and this will extend up to about 60 years in less developed regions. In the more developed regions, the population will peak in numbers at around 65 years, with progressively fewer people of younger ages. Nevertheless, even in more developed regions, overall longevity will seldom exceed 100 years.
It is a fact that, in Europe, the upper limit of compulsory working age will need to be raised to 75 years in order to obtain in 2050 the same potential support ratio as that existing in 1995, that is, 4.8 persons of working age per older person. An inevitable corollary of this is that people will have to remain fit enough to engage in productive work for 10 years more than they do today and this will only be achievable if they have access to appropriate assistive technologies. The intelligent systems and technologies in rehabilitation engineering represent a dynamic field which is evolving tremendously. These systems are essential components in increasing the well-being of people with disabling conditions around the world. The challenge for bioengineering will be to develop these technologies, which will include telecare, aids and devices for people with visual and communication impairments, tissue engineering approaches to repairing brain damage after stroke and nerve regeneration after spinal cord and
other injuries, and functional electrical stimulation for the maintenance of continence. Repairing worn out joints has become a routine surgical procedure with the development of mechanical devices and new bone surface treatments. The main goal is to relieve the pain in the joint following damage, which is most often the result of arthritis. Joints commonly affected are those in the hip, knee, shoulder, elbow, wrist, finger and ankle. Although the present procedures are successful in around 90 per cent of cases, problems may arise due to infection, blood clots, loosening, dislocation, wear, breakage and nerve injury. Some of these problems may make it necessary for the artificial joint to be replaced after a period which, in younger and more active people, may currently be significantly less than a decade.
The trends in the use and development of new technologies must also be oriented toward noninvasive or, at least, minimally-invasive diagnosis and therapy. These techniques and devices will lead to more comfortable lives for patients, as well as their faster rehabilitation and shorter stay in hospitals, including reduction of health care costs. The challenge for bioengineering in this field is, for example, to reduce the trauma of the surgical procedure so that the patient can leave the hospital quickly and return rapidly to normal life, to minimise the immediate postoperative complications and to extend the life of the new joint so that it never needs to be replaced. The achievement of these objectives will require the development of better techniques for accessing the diseased joint and performing the surgery, more reliable fixation of the artificial joint and better mechanical reliability. It may even become possible to dispense with mechanical artificial joints and to regrow the worn out joints by usin
g the techniques of tissue engineering. Various engineering prostheses will evolve from interdisciplinary research based on new technologies, such as, for instance, those restoring lost or damaged sight or impaired motor function.
Understanding the structure and function of the human body will be advanced by the development of more and more powerful computers joined together by vast telecommunications networks based on internet protocol technology. The idea is that it will soon be possible to create a conceptual model of the entire biological continuum of the human organism (that is, physiological systems, organs, cells, proteins and genes), based on imaging and visualisation information. The scale of the information will range from the whole body (metres) down to the subcellular structures of which it is composed (nanometres and less).
In addition to imaging, other engineering methods, such as systems theory, control theory and signal processing, will be used to build models of, for example, how cells communicate and how they regulate the production of different proteins. Once the way in which cells function is known, it may be possible to grow replacement organs and other body parts from an individual's own genome. This would be a much more effective approach than current forms of tissue engineering.
Imaging techniques are generally aimed at seeing inside the intact human body. This first became possible with the discovery of X-rays more than a century ago. Since then, techniques using radioactive tracers, ultrasonic waves and nuclear magnetic resonance have become commonplace. All these different methods have their own advantages, disadvantages, costs and benefits. The scanners that produce and display the images are engineering systems based on mechanics, electronics and computing. Generally, except for simple X-ray equipment and ultrasonic scanners, the machinery is large and expensive. In almost every case, the images can only properly be interpreted by medical experts and this is a serious limitation. As far as image acquisition is concerned, current research is concentrated in the areas of optical, electrical and magnetic approaches, as well as in seeking to extend the capabilities of the mainstream technologies. The images are usually displayed as two-dimensional cross-sections or as three-dim
ensional volumes, and some systems can operate in real time. An important use of three-dimensional body imaging is in the realisation of faithful musculoskeletal models of human extremities. Such models, incorporating biomechanical models of muscles, are applicable, for instance, in orthopaedics, enabling simulations of planned surgical procedures. Two particularly challenging possibilities for engineers are that the current displays might be replaced by pictorial representations of what would be seen under direct vision, and that a compact ultrasonic scanner could be developed to fit in every doctor's pocket, alongside the stethoscope and other medical paraphernalia.
Biomedical Engineering in Perspective
Biomedical engineering has come a long way since Leonardo da Vinci, who lived from 1452 to 1519, drew his revolutionary pictures of the skeleton and its musculature and studied the mechanics of the flight of birds. The modern era has seen the application of engineering in almost every branch of biomedicine, so that much of the practice of medicine is now completely dependent on the work and support of engineers. The pace of progress is accelerating and tremendous challenges lie ahead for engineers working in this field.
The introduction of electronic patient records, complex and extremely powerful electromedical equipment and devices, minimally invasive technologies, new possibilities of providing telemedicine and e-health services, new ways of home self-care, sophisticated new sensors, new ways of care and heath care for older persons are only some of possibilities, which, on the other hand, are challenges as well, that are opened up by the introduction of new technologies. Among such problems, there is certainly the one related to adequate education of new generations of medical professionals. It is illustrative, in this context, to mention the opinion that future orthopaedic surgeons might in fact become “biomedical engineers of a kind”.
The grasp for what could be done by and through biomedical engineering far exceeds the reach that is constrained by the limited availability of resources. There seems to be no limit to what engineering could do further to revolutionise medical practice and many of these challenges will have to be met to enable society to cope with the imperatives of demography, the changing pressures of disease and the rising aspirations of patients and the public.
AGRICULTURE AND ITS ENVIRONMENT
System environment aspect
Production of food was always aspected by economic, social and survival challenges. Today’s survivability is simply recognized as global ecological margin.
State of the production
Food production is under constant pressure of the world market to result in uncritical use of biostimulators such as pesticides, artificial ferilizers, natural and artificial hormones, antibiotics and other stimulators in order to increase the yield. Its negative aspects are expected to reside for decades in the environment.
Definition and last two centuries history of agriculture
By its very nature agriculture is production of food on soil, from the see and in fresh water. It is location specific, and it is this specificity of crops, soils, waters, and animals that together with climate have led to great diversity and richness in today’s agriculture. The principal change in the 20th century was the Green revolution, during which majority of coutries experienced a massive increase in yield per unit area and time, owing largely to greater control of production factors. The mid-19th century marked the beginning of a more scientific approach to agricultural production with the introduction of fertilizers. The 20th century has been considered as the century of science-based agriculture using more engineering approach and including production target setting.
Thus the basic attitude in the 20th century was a centralized approach to agriculture.
State-of–the-art in modern agriculture technology
Modern agriculture technology, especially genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are reality and agriculture has to calculate with its results. The other trend is sustainable development in food production. The third trend is based on integrated pest management (IPM) and integral plant resistivity (IPR). By incorporating specific gene into plant a demonstrable little evidence of risk to human health or the environment can be sometimes attained. The area planted with GMOs has tripled in the last three years, some 75% of this in developed countries. Most of the work has been focussed to: maize, soybean, cotton and canola, involving traits resulting in pest- and herbicide-resistance. The concept of related ecological conditions was successively applied by farmers being educated to understand the concept of critical threshhold.
Globalization and agriculture
The globalization debate is caused on the fact that inequality and inequity still exists in the world. More than 1000 million people live on less than one dollar a day, and an estimated 800 million people are hungry. There is a need to double food production in developing countries, some 80% of this increase will be gained from land that is already under production. It is clear that this increased intensification of production cannot be met without chemically intensified inputs.
The 21st century will be marked by a return to a more location-specific solutions based on ecological approach to agriculture. The public eye focused on globalization should be defocused to dehomogenization and decentralization of agricultural approach. Advances in science should allow greater specificity. Non-governmental organizations (NGO) and civil society are helping much in maintaining local-specific agriculture. Evidence of this may be found in the increasing view of globalization in the context of local issues and not only global concerns.
There are many future trends, among them:
- Major economic trend to exhibit downward pressure on cereal prices,
- Governments are no longer the predominant players in food regulation,
- Increased income in parts of the world such as South East Asia will be positively correlated with an increase in consumption of animal protein,
- A potential concern associated with the increased production and movement of livestock,
- Increasing urbanization in many countries. Agriculture is in general declining in economic importance and hence public opinion. The number of students in agriculture faculties is rapidly declining. The reduced number of people involved in agriculture will also be a necessity for increased mechanization and informatization of farming. Such technologies are a challenge for their ecological sustainability, particularly for developing countries,
- Increasing public concern regarding food safety for human and animal use,
- Medicalization of agriculture is expected to continue. Further investigating is needed for the use of nuticeuticals to improve diets and better understanding of the role of protective factors, such as found in brassicas, against certain types of cancer,
- Greater attention to the concept of fertilizing plants and not soil, and the greater reliance on the principles concerning ecological farming systems developed through experience with integrated pest managemant (IPM),
- Use of information technology such as global positioning system (GPS), computer simulations and predictions in order to better predict dynamic changes of the crop and weather conditions. Use of sensor and actuator networks for detection and controlled reaction on larger territory.
The prime element of the necessary measures is using ethic principles in agriculture such as: development of the international code of conduct in respect of genetic resources, GMO, and establishment of such principles in cooperation and coordination at the national and regional levels. The fact is a poor if any intra-ministerial cooperation particularly between ministries of environment protecton, agriculture and health. OECD cope to enhance this cooperativity in the critical areas. Principal challenge will be to ensure that these discussions are at the national and international level without biased aspects, positive or negative.
The question is how to avoid the mistakes of the past and to fully benefit from the lessons learned and experiences gained up-to-date.
A wide range of so-called “functional foods” have to come onto the market in recent years. It is essential that these products are developed, presented and marketed within the context of an overall healthy diet, that they are accessible to all consumers and that they are safe and well-declared.
The existing limitations in expected food production could be overcome by consistent research policy derived from basic research in food science and technology, innovations in particular areas, interdisciplinary approach and broad collaboration.
The information on pollutants in environment, human exposures and the resulting health outcomes should be accessible to public health professionals, policy makers and the public. Nation’s environmental health should be kept out of ignorance as soon as possible. Human genome mapping offers an unprecendented but not yet fully realized oportunity to study gene-environment interactions and their relationship to disease dinamics.
Forces, problems, and visions
The result of simultaneous democratization in finance, technology and information
is simply named the globalization era. It can bring us global projects such as Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) aimed at helping those living in developing countries Particularly are the low-income food deficit countries planned to improve their food security through rapid increase in food production and productivity. This is planned to be attained by reducing large year-to-year variability in food production on an economically and environmentally sustainable basis and by improving people’s access to food. New partnerships should be formed in order to maximalize the benefits of the SPFS. This partnership should address all stakeholders, consumers, producers as well as officials. Overseas counterparts should be considered and treated as partners rather than adversaries. The output of international standard setting organizations should be improved by better their better strategy and management.
There are still many problems to be solved:
- Raise of productivity of the agricultural sector achieved without further environmental degradation,
- Commercialization and modernization of the subsistence agricultural sector should be urgently viewed as to raise standards of the less than “US$2” a day people, that is people with computed basket based on minimum day’s need consumption that does not exceed this level. This implies an environmentally friendly agriculture, sometimes performed also with old-fashioned methods.
Visions can be simply stated as:
- Provision of education and training especially in the field of science and technology, pointing to increased employment opportunities, countrie’s proper management, and increased participation at the world food markets,
- Research carried out at at the universities, agricultural and biotechnical institutes has a key role in promoting innovative food-production techniques that meet environment, health and quality standards,
- Development, protection and promotion of each nation’s or region's autochtonous agriculture and food products with specific regional properties.
Finally we must consider the holistic effect of total food production capacities based on soil, sea and freashwater resources. From this standpoint agricultural frontiers broaden to a totality of all producing areas, and to the total human environment, as well.
Goals and challenges for discoveries in science and engineering
Research and technology foresight
Believe it or not, we are totally absorbed by materials of various types. We eat materials, we wear materials, we use materials to build of homes and working facilities, we use materials to increase our comfort and to satisfy our desires.
Nature has been offering the mankind a lot of natural materials, however, as the demands of mankind are increasing tremendously, new materials for life, in construction, electronics, chemistry, medicine and consequently in everyday use are urgently wanted.
There are four big players in the arena of new materials competing for the place in the sun: two of them are inorganic (metals and ceramics), one is organic (organic polymers) and the last, but least, is biomaterial. Sometimes, but still not too often, they present themselves in combinations 1+1, or 1+1+1 or even 1+1+1+1. It is the challenge of researches and engineers to bring these four types of materials together and to make synergic profits of these combinations not observed in the main resource of materials, viz., in the nature.
Mankind used natural materials from the very beginning of its prehistory engineering activities. Wood, stone, and various animal or even human tissues were used first without expending too much effort to modify them, just using them as they were offered by nature.
For its comfortable life modern and future mankind demand new materials not offered by the nature. New, synthetic or semisynthetic or processed materials frequently are products of a very sophisticated research based on fundamental research in physic, chemistry, biochemistry and biology. The implementation of new materials however requires a very demanding applied research and development.
A simple example of a well known classical material, we come in touch everyday, is bitumen. In spite of its long-time usage, this material is still in further development and improvement. We walk on bitumen sidewalks and streets and we drive our cars on bitumen roads and highways as well as we take-off and land or planes on bitumen-concrete runways. Bitumen is not a simple chemical compound. On the contrary, it is a very complex mixture of compounds that is obtained in the refining of the naturally occurring crude oil. However, its application in more sophisticated constructions of communication ways requires new developments in civic engineering (because we need flattter and smoother roads and runways), mechanical engineering engineering (because we need advanced machines for new road technologies), as well as chemical engineering (because we need chemical additives to improve the properties of this material to enable for instance cold-coating, shallow-layered coating and other new road technologies based on
sophisticated rheological properties of bitumen).
Another important group of new materials consists of catalytic materials. Catalysts in general increase the rate of chemical and biological processes and enhance their course in the desired direction. As usual, mankind first used natural catalysts in the fermentation processes for wine and beer production. Later an now, synthesized catalysts became predominant in various branches of engineering (for instance in catalytic converters in cars as the shared success of chemical, mechanical and electronic research and engineering development, or in refining and processing of crude oil to give high octane gasoline, highly efficient jet-fuel, lubricants, synthetic polymer materials for a huge number of applications (for instance in construction, packaging) and in chemical industry (for instance for production of basic building units for plastics – monomers, about 90% of all chemical processes use catalytic materials), environment protection (depletion of harmful emissions like nitrogen oxides or volatile organic com
Water, even if a simple chemical compound, is also a very important material medium, and a lot of research and new discoveries are necessary for its sustainable usage, recovery and availability in the future.
The development of new materials is now a newly oriented process. Whereas in the past, it was usual to perform a curiosity driven research with accidental discoveries of new materials with new specific properties, the situation changed dramatically in the recent past. Now, teams active in material sciences research in the majority of cases obtain a very well specified order what should be the properties of a newly asked material. The tailor-made materials are now required. This development is enabled by our deeper understanding of the macro-, micro as well nano-structures and textures of materials, usage of advanced non-destructive physical methods for characterization of materials.
Corrosion of all kind of materials is still a very important phenomenon, both from technical as well as economical point of view. Corrosion, fatigue and other aging phenomena require resistant materials. Principles of corrosion, fatigue and aging are very variable, not only depending on the tape of material (metal, inorganic, organic, polymer etc.). The anticorrosive additives or measures help to increase the lifetime and to decrease the economic losses.
The human activities in the space are connected with the need of new materials with a high resistance to the space radiation and extremely high temperatures under severe radiation conditions. Here, very often, experiments and testing of materials should be done during the space experiments. New metal alloys, new synthetic ceramics and composite materials are in the focus of the research and development.
On the other hand, the non-gravitational conditions can help in preparing brand new materials that cannot be prepared under conditions on the Earth. A typical example of this is crystallization in the space aircrafts and satellite laboratories leading to perfectly organized structures of materials, like for instance zeolites, the top-organized inorganic material with many applications including catalysis.
New engineering ideas and concepts ask for materials with a well-defined porous strucure. Shaped pores are now very important in many engineering processes connected with mass transfer and separation processes. Porous metallic or polymer membranes or tailor-made porous structures for heterogeneous catalysts and catalytic supports are typical examples from this field.
Even the best classical materials used as conductors of electricity show high electric resistance. Research on materials showed that we can prepare superconductors that have a very low electric resistance, but only at very low temperatures, close to the absolute zero on the Kelvin temperature scale. The challenge to researchers is to maintain this superconductivity to high or even very high temperatures. New physical and chemical methods for characterization of inorganic materials are helping tremendously to enhance this effort.
New electricity conductors based on non-metallic materials from mechanically flexible materials (plastics) are the challenge for electronic and material sciences.
In the electronic engineering materials supporting the development of information and computer technologies (higher storage capacities and higher information transfer rates) being a big challenge.
Recycling of all kinds of materials seems to be one of the most important problems for our planet. Row material resources are limited on the Earth and their transport to the Earth from the space is technically as well as economically non-feasible for the nearest future. Nowadays, recycling principles and technologies are always involved in the development of new materials. Recycling not only the solves the problems of waste deposits, but it also brings some energetically profits, not mentioning the obligatory recycling of precious metals (like platinum, palladium, or rhodium).
Materials based on the use of nanotechnologies can deliver highly organized materials sometimes with very much expressed self-organizing abilities. Supermolecular structures prepared in this way are of great interest in electronic engineering as well as in materials for electronic and computer components and non-metalic electricity conductors.
Multicomponent composite materials and even simple composite materials (organic and inorganic, materials combining specific mechanical, electronic and chemical properties), multilayered and pillared structures and textures are some examples from this huge and versatile composites arena. Special coating and layering processing technologies enable to combine in a synergetic way (that is more than a simple summarization of individual properties) the properties of plastic, ceramic and metallic materials.
Synthetic materials for medicine is another important field of new materilas. Drugs are chemical compounds, not materials. Neverthelless, some drugs are nowadays applied in such complex systems that we should consider them as complex materials. Delivery of drugs into specific parts of the human body very often requires addition of the functionalized polymeric materials possessing well-defined solubility and swelling in various media as well as perfectly adjusted transport (membrane) properties.
Let leave drugs and turn to the more typical medical materials synthesized as replacements of natural tissues. Metals, ceramics and organic polymers compete here again in the replacement of damaged ankles, bones and teeth, other in surgical operations used as reinforcing implants etc. Synthetic blood is a complex material that must meet very complex parameters and properties.
It was mentioned several times that the discovery, development, implementation and monitoring of new materials needs parallely application and therefore also development of new characterization techniques that very often work on the principle: attack versus corresponding response of the material.
Very powerful techniques use X-rays of various energies (or wavelength) to attack the sample, and enable to follow the properties of the emitted electrons or X-rays. Another effective attacking medium are electron bundles, causing the emission of detectable electrons or the characteristic X-rays.
For instance, the ESCA method (Electron Spectroscopy for Chemical Analysis) in its XPS version (Photoelectron Spectroscopy) applies hard (high energy) X-rays as the attacking medium causing emission of electrons with measurable kinetic energy, which then enables the calculation of the bonding energy of the emitted electron and, consequently, to establish the elemental composition of surface layers in the investigated material. Similarly, AES (Auger Electron Spectrocopy) uses for the attack high-energy electron and measures the kinetic energy of the emitted Auger electrons, which also enables the determination of the surface elemental composition of the material.
There are may other characterization methods in use and in further development for materials investigation, characterization and monitoring of their properties.
Usage of these techniques and of brand new approaches in thinking on the challenges to prepare new materials for life is necessary, for instance, in the development of self-reproductive, self-healing, and self-monitoring smart materials. Development of new nano-sensors and nano-compartments for the self-monitoring materials is an integral part of the development of these smart new materials.
WATER - GLOBAL CHALLENGE AND LOCAL DILEMMA
Life on planet earth is water-dependent. Centres of population of all forms of life have, over the evolutionary time-span, developed in the presence of abundant water and success in less well-watered environments has required special adaptations. In the case of man the “adaptations” have been through application of knowledge and innovation, focusing on improved means of discovery, recovery, harvest, storage, distribution and efficient use. Human occupation was initially established where free surface water and natural storage was sufficient in quantity and quality to support at least the basic activities of survival of a community. Natural increase, death rate and migration were the dynamic forces underlying population change at any given site and water and land resources for basic household needs and food production were critical constraints. On the microscale of the locality, available water was usually managed and used under a concept of “the commons”. Water was viewed as a gift of nature, places were
often identified by reference to adequacy of local water resources, and seasonal and year-to-year variability in local supply was readily recognized. Activities of mankind, even with minimal intervention, have impacted on the local ecology and transformed the extended environment. Thus human communities have succeeded to varying degrees often related to the decisions made about water use and created conditions favourable to their purposes in the immediate sense but with unknown and often unconsidered long-term consequences. The developments in engineering and other technologies have contributed to innovations that support re-partitioning of water and improve effective use for immediate human purposes but increasingly take into consideration the longer term sustainability of the systems created.
Issues of Environmental and Social Sustainability
Both human population growth at each center and the changes in use and application of water that arose with expanded agriculture and food production and new industrial processes, led to efforts to expand the water resources available and use them more efficiently. These measures include tapping more underground bodies of water, utilizing more distant catchments, creating greater storage capability, delivering water over longer distances and in more efficient delivery systems, and partitioning water to various uses on the basis of water quality. Recovery of “used” water and reuse (recycling) becomes necessary as high efficiency of water use becomes a dominant community concern. However, removal of water from its natural distribution and modifying the rate and periodicity of flows result in a diminished availability and modified periodicity of supply to the resident life forms in those environments. River flow, ground and artesian water recharge rates are affected, but the consequences are not well mapped. Fo
r example benefits through flood mitigation are perhaps offset by the loss of ecological benefits of periodic overflow to flood plains, greatly increased flows flushing slow-flowing, increasingly silted and saline river systems, and carrying silt and nutrients to the river deltas. The net benefit or otherwise of such changes are very much in the eye of the beholder as there is no objective basis for decision making other than to mathematically model the consequences and determine by community engagement what losses can be accepted. The development and application of models is dependent on high quality data and while those involved in the technological sciences have developed much of the necessary technology for relevant measurement and building the conceptual framework, there is a long way to go. Solving within the present climatic patterns based on historical records is not a simple matter; essential data is often lacking and indirect estimates are used without access to verification. Beyond this there is th
e issue of climate change where predictions must be treated with caution.
Partitioning Water Between Competing Users
While the common law, with a central doctrine of riparian rights has applied in well watered areas, where water is recognizably a scarce resource, jurisdictions move to statutory frameworks for the regulation of access to and/or uses of water. The dilemmas of water partitioning are however exacerbated by the widely differing value systems and the political influence of specific sectors of the communities. The forces line up to express priority arguments for household use, agriculture, mining, manufacturing and processing industries, and the environmental and amenity uses. Our current lifestyles are founded on the contributions that all these sectors make to meeting personal “needs” and “wants”. Finding an “appropriate balance” is dependent on the locality and the resident community structure. However the decisions of each community flow on with consequences for neighbouring communities and future generations. While in times of drought individuals recognize that water is by-and-large a scarce and pre
cious resource, they continue to use water as a free or low cost good to which they have unspecified rights.
Inefficiencies of use are readily identified, can be measured and we have the knowledge and much of the technology to take remedial action. Costs and who should bear them becomes the key issue. The public good and private good vested in improved infrastructure, processes and practices is for the most part partitioned on arguably inadequate terms. Operation of “market forces” is argued by some to provide the economic solution and “correct pricing” of water may be used to provide a balancing mechanism. The great concern is that the most appropriate balance must recognize some aspects natural comparative advantage and be adaptable in the face of year-to-year variability and climate change. Partitioning of allocations needs to be established with recognition that “the environment” has a demand and that past and current populations have not established the dimensions of that demand and the consequences of our past actions for communities of the future. The nature, objectives and consequent magnitude and peri
odicity of an environmental allocation of water are not adequately defined, either for now or for the long-term future health of the land and water resources on which mankind at its growing stocking rate will depend.
Opportunities And Threats
There are great opportunities for more efficient water use. These will be through improved systems of delivery, metering and monitoring of water use in irrigated agriculture, in recycling technologies and desalination in agricultural, mining and manufacturing and some household uses, and in improved processes to minimize water use in flow-based and extractive processes. Given the recognition of a basic household demand, the need to allocate realistic, rather than politically motivated, amounts or proportions of water to each of agricultural, industrial and environmental objectives is imperative. This will be based in part on setting price schedules, discounts and surcharges not only in terms of the quantities of water so allocated but in terms of water quality necessary and sufficient to the purpose. Putting a value on the environment and determining what the acceptable sacrifices will remain a major dilemma.
These opportunities and also the ability to deal with the threats again require application of existing and improved technology for measuring, monitoring and modelling. In the case of household, industry and agriculture, reduction of wastages, and ability to deliver on a secure, but variable basis is essential.
For the environment the threats are bound up in poor knowledge of the long term consequences of reduced and irregular flows, the tolerance and resilience of each system and interconnected systems, and the influences of adjacent agricultural and industrial concentrations. Salination of land, eutrophication of waterways and increased costs of improving quality of recycled water are related issues that must be accommodated.
Overarching the entire question of water resources are the changes to be encountered with climate change. Ability to model the likely changes and rates of change in water from precipitation needs to be translated as consequences for each catchment in terms of run-off and acquisition to surface water streams, dams, reservoirs and recharge of ground water and aquifers. This is an improving area of applied mathematics, but only provided the data bases are sound.
The professions of Technological Sciences and Engineering will need to apply all their cumulative knowledge, skills and inventiveness in its command and provide sound advice and exert social influence to meet these challenges.
ENGINEERS AND CLIMATE
Weather and climate have been matters of both interest and concern since the dawn of civilization and to this day weather forecasts and climate predictions continue to attract the public attention. In many critical regions of the world and for a number of activities, the information about the weather can be crucial and even life saving. Climate variability has determined the fate of entire communities in the past and continues to affect the activities and production systems of modern societies, forcing them to a continuous process of adaptation. In ancient societies, the forecasting was associated more with religious activities and witchery than with science. In more recent times, weather forecasting became a more technical business but was still publicly seen as a soft science at best. The twentieth century witnessed the birth of meteorology as an exact science. In the first half of the century, the physical laws according to which one state of the atmosphere develops from another were first established. T
he technological breakthroughs in remote sensing and parallel computing drove an explosive scientific activity in atmospheric sciences during the second half of the century that brought us to the present situation in which meteorology can be considered as a fully mature scientific area.
This evolution of climate from "art" to science brings it much closer to the more traditional technological areas with strong background in physics, allowing for interdisciplinary work and research. Meteorological records, for instance, have long been taken as input in the design of buildings, dams, ports, irrigation systems and in general any structure or system that is clearly conditioned by the climatic elements. However, this practice usually involved little interaction between meteorologists and engineers and no exposure of the latter to the subtleties of the climate system. A particularly delicate issue in the context of a changing climate is the treatment of extreme events. The design of many projects crucially depends on the frequency and intensity of occurrence of maximum winds, long droughts or severe flashfloods. The computation, based on historical records, of risk and period of return takes on a new complexity in the framework of a low-frequency varying climate. This is one aspect in which the
study of climate and engineering should come together and develop new methodologies that acknowledge the current scientific understanding.
Although there is no excuse for anybody in the present world to be unaware of the climate change issue, engineers should be the ones most involved in the debate. They are by training, temperament and occupation among the professionals who are most appreciative of the scientific basis of the problem. It is actually difficult to envision an engineer who is not involved, either directly or indirectly on at least one aspect of these matters. The special training of engineers qualifies them to fully grasp the physics and principles behind the phenomenon. This background allows them to understand that the warming of the atmosphere by the greenhouse effect is not due to the energy from the Sun, but rather by the absorption or trapping of radiation from the Earth surface by the so-called greenhouse gases. The possibility that the changing composition of the atmosphere may result in potentially damaging variations of temperature and rainfall patterns, as well as in dangerous rises of sea level heights, is increasing
ly accepted and has started to show in the observational records. The analytic temperament of engineers makes them informed participants in the current debate on climate change. Although an increased concentration of greenhouse gases would tend to warm the atmosphere, it will also trigger complex feedbacks in the physical system. The most controversial of these feedbacks involve the clouds types and distributions in a way that is uncertain at the present time. The bases for the uncertainty lie in the moist processes that engineers know so well.
The occupation of engineers may have them involved with the highly sophisticated instrumental devices used to monitor climate. These can be at the earth’s surface or on board rockets, sophisticated balloons, aircraft, ships and even orbiting satellites. Meteorological instrumentation influences many human activities, from making airports safer to providing vital information for the design of large buildings and bridges.
Engineers contribute to the decision-making processes at many different levels, from public policy to professional consulting, and in the realm of many different activities. The laying out, construction and management of infrastructure and sizeable developments, the planning of agricultural production and design of industrial systems and the management of water and energy resources will inevitably involve matters related to climate change. The global warming debate constitutes an increasingly present framework in which the technical and political decision will be taken. A solid understanding of climate variability, both natural and anthropogenic, and the dynamics of the climate system will be required in order to participate in the next great challenge facing humanity: sustainable development. Notwithstanding the contribution of many other physical and social sciences, sustainable solutions to the water and energy problems will inevitability involve a large engineering component. Engineers should be appropria
tely prepared to the task by cultivating an educated and scientifically based sensitivity to climate issues.
Furthermore, engineers are inescapably involved in another major aspect of the global warming debate. Acceptance that the increased emission of greenhouse gases by industrial activities may change climate in a way that can adversely impact populations implies the taking of measures leading to curb those emissions. This requires improvements in the systems that control the quality of industrial by-products, which may result in higher production costs and reduced competitiveness. Engineers can apply their creativity to the design of better, less polluting and yet economically competitive industrial systems. They can also be proactive and sponsor less polluting solutions although they may be not the clearest choice from a narrow financial viewpoint and by including in the design equations factors that represent the damage that greenhouse emissions may inflict to society.
Climate itself has progressively evolved as a science, and powerful computers nowadays integrate the equations that govern the motion of fluids and are so well-known to engineers. Nevertheless, expertise on climate is required to write down the key terms in the equations that represent the atmospheric and ocean phenomena that even the most powerful computers cannot explicitly resolve. The complexity of the climate system is certainly attractive to engineering students and some of the basic element could be incorporated to their curriculum. Climate brings together a wide assort of fundamental physics, from fluid dynamics to electromagnetical radiation. Another aspect in common between both disciplines is the crucial role that numerical modeling is achieving in both engineering and climate studies. Climate modeling is a powerful and paradigmatic example of the potential of parallel computing and has become one of the main tools in which we rely to understand and make predictions about the future evolution of th
e Earth climate.
Of course, engineering and climate science are two different expertises. We argue, however, that practitioners of the two fields have many interests in common. We further suggest that a closer collaboration between them would benefit us all.
What is robot?
Human shape dolls have been found in classical clock in Europe and Karakuri in Japan. We found such dolls in the story of Pinocchio. The word ``Robot” came from Czech‘ｓ1920 Play ``Rossum’s Universal Robot” by Karl Capeck, where robotas, robot in Czech, meaning mechanical slaves developed by Rossum revolved against humans.
The stories about robots are found in Issac Asimov science fiction to Osamu Tezuka’s long story manga ``Astro-Boy”. They are mechanical men look like and work for humans. Especially in the science fiction of Issac Asimov(1920-92) ``I, Robot” three Laws of Robotics impressed the audience. The three laws are
A robot may not injure a human being, or through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm
A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
In spite the fact that the science fictions and animated comics have given vivid image of the robots and cyborgs, the robots found in the real life are placed in the factories and they are just arms with end effecter doing repeated simple tasks of moving, assembling, palletizing, painting, cutting and welding. Such robots are said industrial robots. In 1996, Honda Motor Co. announced the first humanoid robot P2 which could autonomously walk with biped, which bought the shock to scientists and engineers who had done researches on walking robot, since Honda had kept the project secret since 1986 from its start. In 1997 the more advanced P3 appeared and in November 2000, the popular Asimo appeared and humanoid researches have been progressed in Japan. Nearly the same time, Sony Co. announced its small autonomous biped robot SDR-3X which uses the similar software architecture with entertaining robot dog AIBO, which is a new robot product to entertain human. When AIBO was sold firstly through the network, it was
said that 3,000 units were sold in twenty minutes.
The robots found in the factory floors are consisting of arms and the end effecter and doing simple motion like pick and place following the program mainly used for manufacturing are said industrial robots. Industrial robot is more precisely described by the Robot Institute of America as
A robot is a reprogrammable multifunctional manipulator designed to move material, parts, tools, or specialized devices, through variable programmed motions for the performance of a variety of tasks. So the robot is used for a general purpose by changing the program.
The industrial robot of the arm shape is designed to achieve general purpose tasks by using appropriate end effecter which is the mechanical instrument to affect the work such as a gripper, spray, welding device and so on. The first industrial robot was built in 1961 by Unimation, Danbury, Connecticut started by J. Engelberger.
Either industrial robot or humanoid robot, they are constructed by the mechanical link structures and joints controlled using sensors and controllers implemented by computers. Robotics is the discipline of the robot, and autonomous vehicles, tele-manipulating mechanism and many other automated machines working for human are considered robots. Robotics is the interdisciplinary subject consisting of the following sciences and engineering disciplines:
Mechanism; How to design mechanical structures:
Control; Driving actuators to drive joints achieve the tasks following the paths determined based on the sensed information and/or planned motion:
Information processing; Software construction of the procedure based on the artificial intelligence to achieve the given tasks by integrating the processing of the sensed information and adapting to the environmental situation.
Applications; Tasks robotics depend on application fields such as industries, space, medical surgery tele-operation:
The basic robot mechanical structures said arms are links and joints. The rotational type joint is said articulate joint and sliding type joint is said prismatic. The revolved joint is usually driven by the motor. The end of the arm is said the wrist or hand and the hand is equipped to the end effecter.
To move the hand to the appropriate position with appropriate orientation, the arm should be moved by controlling the joints. The position in the open space is specified by the x, y, z coordinates and specified by the three degrees of freedom. The orientation of the hand is specified by the roll, pitch, and yaw. So the robot needs six degrees of freedom to move to the given position and orientation. For the given joint angels the tip position and orientation are uniquely determined which is said the forward kinematics. The motion of the usual industrial robot is commanded by the position and orientation, and all joint angles should be controlled to follow the command which should solve the inverse kinematics problem of determining angles of the joint for the given position and orientation.
To place thing at an arbitrary position with specified orientation in the space, six degrees of freedoms are realized by the six joints. Position in the space is specified by the vector in the three dimensional coordinate space, and the orientation is given by the roll, pitch and yaw. So to place a thing at an arbitrary position, six degrees of freedom are required. One degree of freedom is brought by a joint with a link. There are two kinds of joint. One is revolving and the other is sliding. The number of joints required to place a thing at a given position and orientation in the space is at least six. If the manipulator has more than six joints, there exist several postures of links to place a thing at a given position and attitude in the space. This manipulator is said a redundant manipulator. The joint is driven by a electric motor. All joint angles are specified, the position and orientation of the tip of the manipulator is uniquely specified. When the position and orientation of the manipulator tip
is given, the problem of determining joint angles is difficult problem and is said ``inverse kinematics problem”. The problem is known to be treated by Homogenous transformation. The first systematic treatment of the problem is found in the book written by R.P. Paul.
Dynamics and control
The mechanical systems working for the human muscle power was said the Servo-control, which came from the word meaning service.
The fly ball governor installed by James Watt in his steam engine in 1788 for keeping rotational speed of engine constant is said the origin of the control, and the foundation of the control theory was born aiming to solve the stability of this closed loop system by J.C. Maxwell of UK and J.Wischnegradski of Russia. The control has been used in all fields since then such as in ships, airplane and chemical processes. The servo-mechanism had been used in assisting the steering of the ship rudder. Elmer and Lawrence Sperry used the gyroscope to control the attitude of the airplane and demonstrated their autostabiliser in 1914 in Paris. The fire control in the combination of radar had been developed during World War II in Radiation Laboratory. After the war, the project to develop the training simulator for pilots started at MIT under the direction of J. Forrester. The project had brought the digital computer ``Whirlwind”. The digital computer later had brought the digital control.
The problem of the robot control is how to control the joint angles to have the robot move to the given position and orientation. By the inverse kinematics for the desired position and orientation, the angles are determined. To control the joint angles to be desired ones, the motors at the joint should be controlled to generate the necessary torque to drive joints. The dynamics between the input torque and the joint angles are depending on the attitude of the robot, which are described by the nonlinear differential equations. The development of small computers has made possible to integrate the above three technical ingredients into making robot working for human. The robot appeared was doing simple motion like pick and place following the program mainly used for manufacturing. The conventional industrial robot control the input torque based on PID logic of the error between the joint angles and the reference angles. This control law however is not able to apply to the manipulator in the space shuttle since t
he robot dynamics is heavily nonlinear. When the reference joint angles are given, the necessary input torque can be determined. This procedure is said the inverse dynamics. This is equivalent to the nonlinear feedback compensation to make the closed loop of the robot be linear. Such control law has made possible to develop the advanced robot.
When the computer and sensors are used, the intelligent robot comes to be used. The definition of the intelligence is said the ability to adapt to the varying environment by C. Evans in his book ``Mighty Micros”. To have the ability to adapt to the environment, it is necessary to have the following functions:
1, Information and data acquisition using sensors and through communication
2, Data storage in the data base
3, Logics to structure and use the data
4, Interaction with the environment
The intelligent robot has the function to adapt to the environment by using sensors information, so the robot can pick up the randomly distributed work pieces, which is said bin picking. Under the structure of intelligent control, many kinds of control realizing robot dexterity have been developed such as the force control, coordination control of multi-arms. The sensed data are feed into the computer for storing in the database. The data are structured to form the knowledge and learning ability will be considered.
Transfer of pendulum
The techniques of robot control are now to aim to make the robot mimic the animals. One of the famous such robots are snake robot developed by S.Hirose.
The new Toyota Hybrid automobile has the function to park autonomously in line, which seems to be controlled by robot. Robot arm has equipped actuators at joints, but recently the robot with un-actuated joints called under actuated robot has been developed. One of such robot is the rotating type pendulum called Furuta Pendulum.
Looking at the history of the robot, as above-mentioned, the robot was first invented as a word used in a play. The robot was described as a machine that will do various tasks in lie of human workers in the factory. In the technology, the robot was also developed as a machine that would do various tasks in lieu of human workers. In 1950s, a robotic system that was called as a manipulator was developed to remotely handle radioactive materials in nuclear power plants. It was a machine that could do a dangerous task in lieu of human workers. It was a machine used to release humans from hazardous and dirty works. Currently, there are many robots that are used in hazardous environment, like for plant maintenance in deep undersea, high voltage power live-line maintenance, exploring space and/or planet as well as nuclear power maintenance.
Fig. 1 shows an example of a live-line maintenance robot developing by YASKAWA Electric Corp. This shows a robot that is renewing a worn insulator on a utility pole, this is a typical task required for the live-line maintenance. In order to maintain continuous energy supply it must be done without the power shutdown. It is very dangerous work for human to do it. Currently, the robot is being verified by skilled human workers to release humans from such dangerous works in the actual work field.
The manufacturing factory is the other typical place where a lot of robots are employed. Many industrial robots are working especially at the manufacturing factories for automobile industry, home electronic product industries and so on. In such a factory, there are many repeated and simple tasks that are tedious if human workers will do it. In order to release humans from such tasks, the robot is efficiently employed as a human substitution machine.
An important robot application in future will be the one for supporting humans in their daily life. In several countries in the world, a problem in the 21st century is the increase of elderly people population and decrease of labor power enough to keep industrial and social activities high quality. For example, in Japan, there is a prediction in which the rate of elderly people (older than 65) population in the total population will reach to 25% in 2020. It means one of 4 persons will be more than 65 years old. In such a society, it will be supposed that the number of people who need some kinds of assistance in several situations of their daily life will increase. Because of those problems in future society, since the beginning of 1990s, the robot which can work together with human and/or support human in human environment has drawn robotics researcher’s attention and several contributions have been made in this research area. Such a new area in robotics is called as “Human Friendly Robotics”.
There are several kinds of human friendly robots which support humans, that is, rehabilitation robots, house care robot, information service robot, entertainment robot, and so on.
Fig. 2 shows a robot that helps quadriplegics when he/she has a meal by himself, “My Spoon” developed by SECOM Co., Ltd. It can bring the foods on the table to his/her mouse using a robotic arm according to the command produced by him/her.
Fig. 3 shows a robot that looks after the house in another’s absence, a home security robot, “Banryu” developed by tmsuk Co., Ltd. and SANYO DENKI Co., Ltd. It has a legged mobile robot with obstacle avoidance and a TV camera to monitor the house connected to cellular phone. When the house owner is absent, the robot looks around inside the house and sends the monitored image of the house to the owner. Also, it can provide various security services using several sensory functions installed in the body
In robotics, traditionally the robot “motions” have been used to do some kinds of physical tasks. However, when a robot will exist with human in the same environment and the human can directly see and touch the robot, the human may feel something from the motions of the robot and touching the robot. Using such an emotional effect the human will have from the robot, new several applications of human friendly robot have been proposed for entertainment, mental health care applications and so on. One of the famous examples of such a robot is AIBO developed by Sony Corp.. AIBO is a four-legged robot with vision sensors, auditory sensors and so on. It can do various actions using actuators, responding to the inputs to those sensors. It has also several kinds of intelligence to recognize objects, to understand human voice commands for human-robot communication, and also to express emotion via the behaviors. With those functions, human can play with the robot and feel happiness via communication with it. It is an e
fficient mental support device for people who are living alone and feel the loneliness hard in their everyday life.
Fig. 4 shows the other example of the mental commit robot, which is called as “PARO” developed by AIST, Japan. It has a seal shape robot with flexible tactile sensors on the surface, auditory sensors in the head that can detect human voice and proximity sensors in the face that can detect an approaching object. Also this robot has an emotional behavior generator that is driven by the inputs to the sensors installed in the robot. With those functions, human can enjoy several behaviors of the robot via physically interacting with the robot. Though it can be used as a robot for entertainment for the people who are living alone like AIBO, currently, it is considered to apply it to mental therapy.
When the robot lives together with human, humanoid, a robot that has a human shape, will be more suitable rather than other shape robot. Since middle of 1990s, humanoid technology has made remarkable advancements. Currently, there are several practical humanoid developed by several universities, institutions and industries.
Fig. 5 is an example of humanoid developed by AIST, Japan and Kawada Industries, Inc.
The “human shape” has a possibility of producing several attractive features in human-robot communication. For example, even when a humanoid will do a simple repetitive task that a conventional industrial robot also can do, people who will see it will have more attractive impression from the humanoid than from the conventional industrial robot. Because of those effects, humanoid can be considered to be an effective human interface device and several application ideas have been investigated, an example of those applications will be an entertainment robot, Qrio Sony Corporation has developed. It is a machine that can communicate with human and shows an attractive behavior to human, like dancing and so on. Even for robot applications to support human physically, because of the emotional function, humanoid technology will also be important.
In future, more number of robots and more kinds of robot will be used in our society and they will play an important role to improve the quality of our life.
1,Ernest L.Hall, Bettie C. Hall, ``Robotics A User-Friendly Introduction” Holt-Saunders International Editions, 1985
3,Mikiko Miyakawa, ``Coexistence of Human and Robots: Robot may storm world-but first, soccer”, Daily Yomiuri On-line, http：//www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/special/spe１１．
4, Richard P. Paul `` Robot Manipulators: Mathematics, Programming, and Control”, The MIT Press Cambridge Massachusetts, 1981.
5, Willam A. Wolovich, ``Robotics: Basic Analysis and Design”, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1987
6, S.Bennet, A history of control engineering 1800-1930, IEE,1986