From life-sized holograms to self-guided bullets, 2012 scored high on the International Scale of Awesome.
As the end of the year approaches, it’s time to take a look back at some of Design Engineering’s most popular stories of 2012. The following lists DE’s most read news items of the past year in reverse order:
10 — Electric hybrid retrofit kit hopes to double any car’s gas mileage
Even as more manufacturers come out with new electric vehicles, car buyers still shy away from the high sticker prices. That may be why this story about Middle Tennessee State University professor, Dr. Charles Perry, and his ~$5,000 universal plug-in hybrid retrofit kit that can double any car’s gas mileage struck a cord over the summer.
9 — Self-guided bullet can hit target a mile away
Self-guided missiles are one thing but a bullet that can adjust its flight in search of it target a mile away? The Sandia National Laboratory-developed projectile has fins in place of rifling to make small course correction in mid-air. Puts a new spin on the phrase, “a bullet with your name on it.”
8 — Canadian firm pursues mechanical approach to fusion energy
The development of a energy producing fusion reactor would change the world nearly overnight. It’s not surprising then this story about a group of Canadian engineers crafting a mechanical and relatively inexpensive reactor design caught readers attention.
7 — U.S. Army successfully tests directed lightning bolt weapon
In June 2012, the U.S. Military figured out how to combine the output from a high-powered laser with 50 billion watts of electricity to create an aim-able lightning gun.
6 — Canadian-designed flying saucer declassified
After more than 50 years, the USAF officially acknowledged that it contracted Avro Aircraft to develop a flying saucer for around $3 million. Sadly, only the prototype, the Avrocar, actually got airborne…sort of.
5 — Canadian human-powered helicopter hopes to take off this week
The group that achieved Leonardo da Vinci’s dream of a human-powered ornithopter after hundreds of years of failure took another shot at the record books with a human-powered helicopter. If they succeed, they’ll score one the longest running and most challenging competitions in aerospace, the Sikorsky prize.
4 — Avro Arrow program nixed again
Given the recent dust-up over the increasingly expensive F-35 fighter, the proposal by Bourdeau Industries to resurrect the fabled CF-105 as a better-performing and less expensive alternative seems a sensible solution doomed by international politics.
3 — Hover bike takes flight
Looking like the jumped out of Star Wars, Aerofex Corp.’s hover bike was too cool to ignore over the summer. The California-based company continues to work on the prototype as a possible heavy-lift drone or emergency response vehicle.
2 — UWaterloo “Bikini Girl” finishing first
University of Waterloo engineering student, Cassandra Cole, made the list again this year but this time for her triumphant return to the engineering program that spurned her and her fellow Formula SAE team mates the year before. Ms. Cole recently presented the ups and downs of her story as a 2012 TEDxUW talk on the Waterloo campus.
1 — Queen’s researchers create life-sized 3D hologram for video-conferencing
Cobbling together a network of Microsoft Xbox Kinect sensors, a 3-D projector and a cylindrical tube, engineers at Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab came as close as anyone yet to creating true holographic telepresence in May.