Engineers dream up, build and maintain the world around us. That includes almost everything we use daily, including our favorite products, our homes, and the roads we drive on. We’re extremely grateful for the “mundane” things engineers are responsible for—like city streets and running water.
This post isn’t about those things.
It’s about the downright unreasonable, spectacular and jaw-dropping creations CAD professionals have cooked up recently. We’ve collected four of the coolest next-generation engineering designs that are sure to unhinge your jaw—temporarily, of course.
Check them out below.
1. Sail Across The Stars—Without Rocket Fuel
The Planetary Society bills itself as the world’s largest non-profit space advocacy group. But they’re going way beyond lobbying for more space travel. They’re going to the stars themselves. Or, more accurately, their citizen-funded project, the LightSail, is.
The LightSail is a spacecraft that looks like a kite, but is propelled by light, not wind. How? Photons in sunlight have momentum. The LightSail is designed to capture photons and turn their momentum into motion for itself. Voila! You have a spacecraft that can continuously travel without the aid of chemical rockets.
LightSail fully launches in 2016. Until then, the Planetary Society needs your help: Donate here to be part of this historic mission.
2. Helping Paralyzed Individuals Walk Again
Engineers know that their work is important. But a lot of non-engineers don’t fully understand how important. They might when they see the ReWalk.
It’s an exoskeleton that helps people with spinal cord injuries to stand, walk and even traverse stairs. According to the company, it’s the only exoskeleton approved by the FDA, which means you’ll likely see it used by people in the U.S. who have spinal injuries.
The company currently produces two models—one for personal use and one for rehabilitative use. The personal model is used in the home while the rehab model is employed by hospitals. No matter the location, the results are the same (and miraculous): paralyzed and severely immobilized individuals are able to walk again.
Onshape is an upstart founded by the original minds behind SOLIDWORKS. Now, it’s trying to become the next-generation CAD software of choice for millions of engineers, architects and 3D professionals. It’s doing that by offering a complete cloud-based CAD system which enables CAD professionals to work and collaborate from any device.
The best part? Onshape is completely free without any functionality restrictions. Paid accounts simply remove limits on the number of files you can view. Learn more here.
4. Attack of the Drones
We’ve all seen the literal and metaphorical rise of drones for commercial, miltary and hobbyist applications. But at least one company is pushing the envelope of what’s possible in the field.
Prox Dynamics manufactures miniature drones that fit in the palm of your hand. Its PD-100 Black Hornet PRS drone was used for surveillance and reconnaissance by U.K. armed forces in Afghanistan. The updated PD-100 even has night flying and vision capabilities. The company’s autonomous aircrafts are also used for non-military applications such as law enforcement and search / rescue operations.
It’s more proof that powerful inventions can come in small packages. Check out what Prox Dynamics is up to here.
What other innovative firms should we be paying attention to? Let us know in the comments!
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