Planning & Strategy.
- Rethink Robotics shut down. Rethink - and Baxter, its flagship product, and Rodney Brooks, its founder - have been quite literally the face of collaborative robotics for the past ten years, but ultimately they were out-competed by, among others, the Danish firm Universal Robots. Tangentially related, Brooks was on the EconTalk podcast recently talking (rather coolly) about the hype around artificial intelligence.
- Jerry Brown signed a California bill into law that allows BART to develop housing on the land that they own near transit stations.
- "China to cut import tariffs on wide range of products."
- "Amazon's minimum-wage increase for its hourly workers comes with a trade-off: no more monthly bonuses and stock awards."
- An interview with Brad Porter, VP of Robotics at Amazon.
Making & Manufacturing.
- A 1900 photo of the IRT Lexington Ave Line (aka the 4/5/6; one of the oldest subway lines in NYC and the world) being built (cut and cover) at Broadway-Lafayette.
- A new bike suspension design that uses magnetorheological fluid to control damping force dynamically. Basically, the oil that's used in these shocks has magnetic particles suspended in it and exhibits more or less apparent viscosity when it's subjected to a magnetic field. And if you continuously vary that magnetic field then you can make a suspension fork (or shock) that's damped differently depending on the momentary conditions (compressive force and position in the stroke). Pretty rad.
- In addition to Elon's antics with the SEC this week, Tesla released Q3 production numbers. "The average production of Model 3s per week — the yardstick Musk has used to describe the health of the company’s production efforts — for the quarter was a little over 4,000. That’s still short of the 6,000 per week he targeted earlier this year, but it’s high enough for the company to consider production 'stabilized,' according to the release."
- If anyone out there has used Vention to design a fixture/cell, I'd be curious to hear about your experience. Send me a note?
- MRE pizza is finally, after years of development, a thing.
Maintenance, Repair & Operations.
- A robot programming error caused 293 Subaru Ascents to be built with a few critical B-pillar welds missing; they will be recalled and scrapped. "Intriguingly, the automotive manufacturer indicated that the 293 Ascents without the spot welds were assembled between 13 and 21 July, but not all the Ascents assembled during that time are missing the welds."
- The recently opened SF Transbay Transit Center will be closed for at least four weeks to inspect and fix the large cracked beams that were found a week and a half ago.
Distribution & Logistics.
- A good, rational, and very well cited overview of the Presidential Alert System, which ~75% of US cellphones received an alert on last week.
- Walmart is using a private, IBM-hosted blockchain to track their lettuce supply chain. This seems to make *some* sense, but not *too* much.
- An overview of 4PLs, which do "what a 3PL does, and more, including day-to-day accountability.'"
- I've been using Transit as my go-to public transit directions app, and it's very good. Recommended.
Inspection, Testing & Analysis.
- Launcher tested their printed copper rocket engine. See also my interview of Max Haot from earlier this year.
- "What is clear, at this point, is that the [CBD] marketing has gotten way ahead of the science."
- An interactive Chevrolet sales brochure from the 1940s, showing how various mechanical assemblies on their vehicles work.
- 5 intriguing things, Alexis Madrigal's excellent newsletter, is back on a (semi) regular schedule.
- The NY Hardware Startup Meetup, which I co-organize, is on 10.11 in Greenpoint. Come!
- Melonee Wise and others are speaking at The Future of Robotics is FEMALE on 10.09 in SF.
- 18F, the digital services agency that reports into the US General Services Administration, hosts all of their projects in open source GitHub repos.
Thanks as always to our recurring donors for supporting The Prepared.Credit also to Santosh, Jack, Sam, Adam, Fin, Brandon, Michael, Tom, and James for sending links.
p.s. - We should be better friends. Send me a note - coffee's on me :)
p.p.s. - Whenever possible, we work to encourage inclusivity. Here's how.