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Archive for the ‘sustainability’ category

Aug 2, 2019

7 Amazing Agriculture Technologies

Posted by in categories: food, robotics/AI, sustainability

Agricultural Revolution is one of the milestones of today’s civilization. It was driven by technological innovations and inventions thousands of years ago, and it is still a very crucial part of our species’ social construct. Engineers are developing tools and machines to make farmers’ job a lot easier by technologies like automation for sustainable productivity. Here are 7 innovative ways the technology is used for agriculture.

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Jul 31, 2019

NASA agrees to work with SpaceX on orbital refueling technology

Posted by in categories: engineering, food, robotics/AI, space travel, sustainability

On Tuesday afternoon, NASA announced 19 new partnerships with 10 US companies to help bring more cutting-edge technologies closer to production use in spaceflight. There were a lot of useful engineering ideas here, such as precision landing systems and robotic plant farms, but perhaps the most intriguing one involved the rocket company SpaceX and two of NASA’s field centers—the Glenn Research Center in Ohio and the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.

“SpaceX will work with Glenn and Marshall to advance technology needed to transfer propellant in orbit, an important step in the development of the company’s Starship space vehicle,” the NASA news release states. This is a significant announcement for reasons both technical and political.

Jul 31, 2019

First Fully Automated Indoor Farm Being Built In Ohio

Posted by in categories: food, robotics/AI, sustainability

The next time you shop for cherry tomatoes at Whole Foods or another retailer, you may end up buying some grown in an indoor, controlled environment outfitted with the latest robotic technology. Ohio will get the first fully automated indoor farm in the United States. 80 Acres Farms plans to build one in Hamilton, a suburb of Cincinnati, by the end of the year. The farm will have grow centers for greens, such as herbs and kale, and will supply produce to multiple retailers and distributors.

80 Acres Farms plans to construct the fully automated indoor farm in three phases. When it finishes, the farm will be 150,000 square feet of controlled environmental agriculture (CEA). Mike Zelkind, cofounder and chief executive officer of 80 Acres Farms, explains that the company uses “renewable energy, very little water and no pesticides.” The Hamilton farm will produce leafy greens, microgreens, kale and herbs for retailers such as Whole Foods Markets, Jungle Jims, Dorothy Lane Markets, U.S. Foods and others.

Jul 31, 2019

Space junk: a recycling station could be cleaning up in Earth orbit by 2050

Posted by in categories: space, sustainability

Jez Turner does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Jul 30, 2019

America is drowning in garbage. Now robots are being put on duty to help solve the recycling crisis

Posted by in categories: economics, health, robotics/AI, sustainability

To tackle this environmental catastrophe, U.S. companies and researchers are developing AI-assisted robotic technology that can work with humans in processing plants and improve quality control. The goal is to have robots do a better job at sorting garbage and reduce the contamination and health hazards human workers face in recycling plants every day. Sorting trash is a dirty and dangerous job. Recycling workers are more than twice as likely as other workers to be injured on the job, according to a report at the University of Illinois School of Public Health. The profession also has high fatality rates.


The U.S. is facing a recycling crisis that is burying cities and towns in tens of millions of tons of garbage a day. The problem began last year when China, the world’s largest recyclable processor, stopped accepting most American scrap plastic and cardboard due to contamination problems, and a glut of plastics overwhelming its own processing facilities. Historically, China recycled the bulk of U.S. waste.

Contamination in the U.S. is high since recyclables are often dumped into one bin instead of multi-streamed or separated from the source. Now China has strict standards for recycling materials it will accept, requiring contamination levels in a plastic bale, for example, contain one-tenth of 1%.

Continue reading “America is drowning in garbage. Now robots are being put on duty to help solve the recycling crisis” »

Jul 29, 2019

Engineers develop chip that converts wasted heat to usable energy

Posted by in categories: computing, solar power, sustainability

Mechanical engineers have discovered a way to produce more electricity from heat than thought possible by creating a silicon chip, also known as a ‘device,’ that converts more thermal radiation into electricity. This could lead to devices such as laptop computers and cellphones with much longer battery life and solar panels that are much more efficient at converting radiant heat to energy.

Jul 25, 2019

Seabed mining is coming — bringing mineral riches and fears of epic extinctions

Posted by in categories: business, existential risks, sustainability, transportation

Now, it seems this nascent industry’s time has come. A growing demand for batteries to power electric cars and to store wind and solar energy has driven up the cost of many rare-earth metals and bolstered the business case for sea-bed mining. What’s more, the industry’s long-awaited regulations — in the form of a mining code — are due to be finalized by 2020, putting in place a process whereby contractors can apply for 30-year licences to mine assigned ‘claim areas’ in parts of the international sea bed such as the CCZ. Already, miners are exploring the potential wealth of these claim areas, but no commercial extraction will begin until the regulations are in place. Investments in this industry are now growing.


Plans are advancing to harvest precious ores from the ocean floor, but scientists say that companies have not tested them enough to avoid devastating damage.

Jul 24, 2019

Inside The Tiny Country Where Robots Grow The Food

Posted by in categories: food, robotics/AI, sustainability

This innovation drive, including increasing use of automation on farms like Dijkstra’s, has helped propel a country with a land mass smaller than the state of West Virginia to become the world’s second-biggest food exporter after the U.S., with agri-food exports worth more than $100 billion.

And it’s dairy, and fruit and vegetables ― where technologies like milking and harvesting robots are becoming commonplace in the Netherlands ― that account for the biggest share of that export revenue.

“Automation has been part of that success story,” said Erik Nicholson of the United Farm Workers of America. The Netherlands “is seen as a world leader because of the innovation going on there and the output it manages despite its comparatively small size.”

Jul 21, 2019

Lunar bricks could keep Moon colonists warm and generate electricity

Posted by in categories: solar power, space, sustainability

Space engineers have long considered lunar soil as locally available material for building outposts on the Moon, and now ESA researchers are considering it as a means to store energy. The Discovery & Preparation study by the agency and Azimut Space aims to determine how the lunar regolith can soak up solar energy during the day, then use it to generate electricity during the 14-day night and protect equipment against freezing.

Jul 20, 2019

This sustainable way of growing rice produces bumper harvests

Posted by in categories: food, sustainability

African farmers earned 41% more when using this method.

🔎 Learn more about innovative methods of growing rice: https://wef.ch/2GjlJjW

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