From picking up apples to distressing jeans, automation is spreading to almost every business you can imagine. And if you happen to live in the Boston area, you could swing by the new restaurant Spyce today and have your lunch prepared by robots. This automated eatery is the result of a partnership between a group of young engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and renowned chef Daniel Boulud. Together these intrepid entrepreneurs claim they have created “the world’s Continue reading

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Modern factories depend on high-tech concepts such as automation and computer-aided manufacturing in order to operate as efficiently as possible. Despite these advancements, though, even the most state-of-the-art facilities can fall victim to unforeseen setbacks that halt production completely. At Ford, for instance, the automaker announced yesterday that it will temporarily stop making its popular F-150 trucks after a fire at a supplier’s factory damaged critical components.

The incident took place last week at a facility that serves as Ford’s Continue reading

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April 10, 2018

Paying with a credit card is an almost entirely electronic process except for one notable step: the signature. Although this final part of the transaction is meant to provide another layer of security, many consumers quickly squiggle something down on the line just to get the procedure over with. Then there are people like Doug Taylor, who goes the extra mile by signing his receipts with a doodle of a little dog wagging its tail. “It gets a laugh, most Continue reading

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April 6, 2018

Industrial robots were once so dangerous that factory employees could not work in the same room as them due to safety concerns. This video shows just how far technology has come since those early years, with today’s soft-handed robots able to pick up delicate items like fruit or plush toys.

Questions:

  1. Why have items like apples traditionally been difficult for robots to handle? How does modern “soft-robotics” address this problem?
  2. Do you think robots could eventually displace much of the Continue reading
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March 13, 2018

Last week McDonald’s scored a major marketing hit when the company flipped its famous Golden Arches into a “W” in honor of International Women’s Day. But the logo is far from the only thing the burger chain plans to turn upside down in 2018. In an effort to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers, McDonald’s recently announced some big changes that will make it more sustainable. Along with getting rid of styrofoam cups, the chain is also switching to fresh beef Continue reading

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March 9, 2018

With a userbase of more than 2 billion people, Facebook drives an astonishing amount of Internet traffic every day. So how exactly does the social network manage to succeed without collapsing under the weight of all that data? Like other tech giants, Facebook depends on enormous data centers packed with computer servers to keep the constant stream of information flowing. In fact, these “hyperscale” structures are just as important to the tech industry as factories or mines are to manufacturers. Continue reading

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March 8, 2018

Last year the shipping industry transported more than $4 trillion worth of goods all over the world on huge container vessels. Although these mighty boats are now the backbone of global supply chains, shipping wasn’t always so efficient. This video takes a look at how these metal behemoths revolutionized an ancient industry and the ways they continue to innovate today.

Questions:

  1. How did large container vessels revolutionize the shipping industry?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of using large container Continue reading
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February 27, 2018

Last week, we took a look at the logistical nightmare that caused hundreds of British KFCs to close due to a lack of chicken. And while the company seems to have solved this issue for now, another strange supply chain problem is frustrating consumers halfway around the world. This time, however, the product in question is a bit more essential to daily life than fried chicken.

Over the weekend in Taiwan, panicked shoppers rushed to stores so they could purchase Continue reading

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February 22, 2018

From keeping lodges toasty to powering chair lifts that must frequently scale mountains, ski resorts go through enormous amounts of energy during the winter months. Along with taking a toll on the environment, this heavy dependence on power can also be quite expensive. That’s why many ski resorts throughout the country are setting up their own utility systems to produce energy efficiently and sustainably.

Colorado’s Aspen Skiing Company, for instance, generates 24 million kilowatt hours of energy per year to Continue reading

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January 9, 2018

In the complicated world of global shipping, companies have traditionally relied on large cargo ships to ferry goods from overseas producers to domestic distributors. Recently, though, these enormous vessels just haven’t been quick enough for firms who need to send products to customers within a matter of days. These time-crunched companies often turn to air carriers that can move products faster but often with added costs. Along with simply being more expensive than cargo ships, increased demand also caused air Continue reading

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