THE NEFF ZONE -- BY JIM NEFF
CADILLAC NEWS -- MAY 22, 2021
After enduring the past eighteen months, the last thing most of us want to do is gaze into our rear view mirrors. Luckily, there is plenty in our future to keep us interested and engaged.
For example, Spot the robot dog. This is no toy. “Boston Dynamics’s quadruped robo-dog spent years performing cinematographic waltzes and hauling heavy things around.” Spot is now on sale and you can have on for your very own.
According to Boston Dynamics: “Spot can navigate tight spaces. The robot won’t hit its surroundings. If you go full throttle ahead, Spot will make its way through a tight environment and then stop before colliding with anything. Spot has about two-hundred channels of information that we’re pulling off of him multiple times a second.”
One product tester made this observation: ““It’s the only robot I can buy that I could walk down a city street...or through a forest. And I’m not spending ninety percent of my day picking up a robot and helping it over a curb.” (https://www.morningbrew.com/emerging-tech/stories/2021/05/17/testdrove-boston-dynamics-robot-dog)
Right now, there are roughly five-hundred Spots in operation. You can adopt yours for a mere $74,500. If that seems like a steep rice tag, consider that your kibble bill will be zero. See Spot in action at: https://www.bostondynamics.com/spot.
You know, Spot owners may have to be retrained a bit. They no longer will need to stop at every fire hydrant, but they may need to pause at electric recharging stations. Ah, but this is where a new Flint-based company might come in.
“KUHMUTE has reimagined how micromobility devices are charged. At present, there’s no standard plug that is compatible with every micromobility device. But KUHMUTE is changing that. Their smart charging hub allows multiple devices to recharge at the same charging station.”
Though the technology looks simple, behind it is a team of engineers who all have one thing in common: they’re students at Kettering University. Kettering has always been a top-notch engineering school (called General Motors Institute back in the day).
Better yet, KUHMUTE’s products are homemade in Flint. “We build basically everything right here. To start, there will be 25 hubs located downtown, on the University of Michigan-Flint’s campus and on Kettering’s campus. And no matter where their products go, etched on every hub and adapter is a message: 'Made with Love in Flint.'” (https://flintbeat.com/kettering-grads-create-electric-scooter-sharing-system-coming-to-flint-this-summer/)
While you're out and around walking and recharging your Spot robo-dog, you might get hungry. If so, perhaps a tasty pizza prepared by another robot might be appropriate. “Piestro has designed robots that make pizza at a fraction of the cost of traditional pizzerias. Piestro is able to maintain high quality ingredients in order to make better pizzas and offer them at lower prices to customers.”
Piestro is a (sort of) pizza vending machine. It's still in the prototype stage, but the company is looking for investors. In essence, you will pay for your pizza and watch it being made. “We make your pizza right in front of you - serving not only food, but entertaining pizza experiences for the entire family.” The system is detailed on a fun website complete with a cool video at: https://www.piestro.com/.
Okay, so maybe a pizza machine is outside of your comfort zone. You might like to cook something at home. There is something futuristic for you too – 3D pasta. Again, this is just in the prototype phase, but it could revolutionize Italian dinners.
First, Carnegie Mellon University researchers saw a problem. When macaroni is packaged, around sixty percent of the space in the box or bag is air. “The researchers believed that flat-pack dry pasta could drastically reduce the amount of packaging required for the foodstuff, as well as saving on storage and transportation space.”
The solution is pasta in 3D. “This new variety of pasta that starts out flat, but transforms into unique, 3D shapes after being boiled for seven minutes. But beyond the shape gimmick, the pasta is unique in other ways: it requires less packaging, creates a smaller carbon footprint, and cooks faster than regular dried pasta.”
So far, there does not seem to be a downside. :”Preliminary tests suggest that the pasta has the same taste and mouthfeel as the regular version. Because the grooves drastically increase the surface area of a piece of pasta, it may be better able to absorb sauce, so your pasta may be more tasty.” (https://www.newscientist.com/article/2276590-flat-pasta-that-morphs-into-3d-shapes-when-cooked-saves-on-packaging/#ixzz6vEZkiPe5 and https://www.cnet.com/news/this-strange-flat-pasta-transforms-into-3d-shapes-as-you-cook/)
Finally, as long as we're thinking about the future, we may want to figure out how to have more of it. In other words, is there something we can do to extend our lives? A 111-year-old Australian man has what he considers the secret to his longevity. It involves chickens.
You know, I'm sure, that there is a chicken wing shortage. What you may not know is that there is no shortage of chicken brains. “Australia’s oldest-ever man has included eating chicken brains among his secrets to living.” (https://apnews.com/article/australia-fd45109d627b01cb9270ad740535cb32)
He says: “You know, chickens have a head. And in there, there’s a brain. And they are delicious little things. There’s only one little bite.”
I now wonder what might be the best way to “experience” these. Grill them on the barbie Aussie style? Deep fried in eleven herbs and spices? Chicken brain sushi? Whatever the case, you go first and I'll hold your beer.
Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at CadillacNews.com and NeffZone.com/cadillacnews.
Spot -- The Robo-Dog