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Spectrum: Vintage Shelby Cobra Gets the 3-D Printer Treatment

Gamified driving app aids drivers. And Google for robots.

by / March 16, 2015
AZO Materials

Honoring a Classic

If you need more proof that 3-D printing is going mainstream, look no further than this classic Shelby Cobra, printed, yes, printed, at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility. The Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine used in making the 1,400-pound car can fabricate components larger than one cubic meter. A recent improvement enabling smaller print bead size allows the BAAM to make pieces with smooth surfaces. Displayed at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January, ORNL researchers aim to use the Shelby as a “laboratory on wheels,” allowing them to test new automotive technologies like wireless charging systems, fuel cell technologies and hybrid system designs.
Source: AZO Materials

Better Back-Seat Driving

Unsolicited driving advice from the passenger seat tends to frustrate, but a gamified driving app monitors habits behind the wheel and offers feedback that’s truly useful. Available free to Android users with a planned iOS release in early 2015, Flo tracks all trips using GPS data and smartphone motion sensors. Flo rewards drivers with points for safe practices like steady speed and smooth acceleration, while deducting points for taking corners too fast and abrupt braking. Changing driving habits as a result of Flo’s findings brings measurable savings in maintenance costs and fuel consumption, as well as reductions in emissions.


Number of exabytes (1 exabyte equals 1 billion gigabytes) of mobile data the world will use per month in 2019, compared to 2.5 exabytes a month in 2014. Much of the growth will come from new device users in developing countries.

Source: Informed Infrastructure

Google for Robots?

Turns out there are a lot of things that humans know that robots don’t. People can call on Siri, Google or Wikipedia for immediate answers to their top-of-mind curiosities. But robots needs a bit more context around the information they seek, given their lack of incidental knowledge. Stanford University’s Ashutosh Saxena is leading a team of students building Robo Brain, a knowledge engine just for robots that will help them carry out tasks. Creators envision the project as collaborative, linking information from other services, and using learned knowledge from similar situations, i.e., a well documented egg-handling technique could also apply to carrying light bulbs. Read more at  


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Noelle Knell Editor

Government Technology editor Noelle Knell has more than 15 years of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.

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