2019-10-07 3 min read


Planning & Strategy.

  • Foxconn continues to juke the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
  • A call for journal proposals "that take a critical analysis to space exploration, industry, military, labor, society and humanity."
  • A pretty brutal Twitter thread of videos of Tesla's "smart summon" feature in action. Smart summon appears to only use ultrasonic sonar for navigation, which makes the practical speed limit - not only of the Tesla in question but of anything that might hit it - a totally impractical 4 mph. "Parking lots have many fewer rules than streets, making collision avoidance the most important system...Fewer rules mean social cues become more important, and Tesla is relying on the remote controller." The NHTSA is looking into smart summon, and it currently appears that liability will belong to the car owner/operator. Related: "New research from AAA reveals that automatic emergency braking systems with pedestrian detection perform inconsistently, and proved to be completely ineffective at night. An alarming result, considering 75% of pedestrian fatalities occur after dark. The systems were also challenged by real-world situations, like a vehicle turning right into the path of an adult. AAA’s testing found that in this simulated scenario, the systems did not react at all, colliding with the adult pedestrian target every time." Also related: Allison Arieff's "Cars Are Death Machines. Self-Driving Tech Won’t Change That."
  • The Highway Trust Fund really needs to move to a mileage-based fee system; it won't happen anytime soon.
  • A good update on what's going on with the Chinese bike share companies.

Making & Manufacturing.

  • A rather academic review of a new book on the formation of the American military industrial complex, which the author argues stems from the very first years after the Declaration of Independence.
  • An extremely high resolution (WARNING: this is a 100 MB link) image of the new SpaceX Starship Mk1. According to Musk, the patchwork (as opposed to spiral) skin construction is necessary due to the fact that "skin thickness will vary considerably according to loads."
  • A 2011 article on Iceland's aluminum smelting industry, which "exports energy in the form of aluminum." See also this current article on the pros (it's *really* recyclable) and cons (if it's not recycled, a *lot* of embodied energy is wasted) of aluminum drink packaging relative to plastic. See also last year's mini-feature on theprepared.org about Apple's recycled aluminum computer enclosures.

Maintenance, Repair & Operations.

Distribution & Logistics.

  • A good video of ACOPOStrak, a modular part conveyor system. The cool part about this stuff is that the cars just have permanent magnets on board; the entire track is full of motor coils that drive the cars along.
  • Just ten rivers might account of 88-95% of the plastic that's dumped into the ocean every year. Before you start trash talking the Yangtze, note (data here) that these aren't necessarily the dirtiest rivers per unit catchment area, or the dirtiest rivers per person living in the catchment area, or the dirtiest rivers per unit water flow - they're just the ten rivers with the largest catchment areas and therefore (probably) the ones which end up dumping the most plastic into the ocean.
  • Another detailed Justin O'Beirne post on Apple Maps product updates. Justin's attention to detail is almost annoying to me, but it's pretty cool to see a product evolve and improve over time. I'm also super impressed that he preemptively publishes his "research notes" (like this one) before they're fully complete - pretty cool.
  • An interesting provocation: Will consumer products brands come, like Dominos Pizza, to see delivery as "tightly linked to customer experience and brand reputation" and therefore insource their own fulfillment? This seems a little crazy to me, primarily because what customers demand from product delivery (show up on a particular day, be packaged reasonably well) is so much looser than what they demand of food delivery (show up within a ~10 minute window, keep my food within ~10° of a set temperature, don't stack a bunch of heavy stuff on my pizza, etc).
  • The FAA officially granted UPS a Part 135 (Package Delivery by Drone) certificate for their intra-campus logistics operation at a hospital in Raleigh, NC.

Inspection, Testing & Analysis.

  • A quick little video of LED binning, the process by which SMT LEDs are loaded in bulk into a machine that applies a voltage, measures the light emitted, and then sorts by color.
  • T-Rex is a 64,000-pound shaker truck, which uses a huge weight to shake the ground to simulate earthquakes and measure how the soil reacts.


Photos of Europe's largest medical cannabis farm.

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