Entries in Promotional (4)

Tuesday
Feb142012

THE CYBORG BEETLE

Cyborg Beetle technical illustration

I've been interested in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) ever since I did some work at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Mesa, Arizona, where one of the programs was the development of the Predator drone. These pilotless aircraft are flown in dangerous reconnaissance and strike missions in Afghanistan and Pakistan while controlled remotely thousands of miles away. I've always been fascinated by the technology, and wondered what kind of peaceful applications could be possible.

A class of UAVs, called Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) has been in the news recently. These are tiny aircraft that are being developed to observe hazardous situations that are inaccessible to ground vehicles. Because of the small sizes involved with these machines (some having as little as 15cm wingspans!) one of the challenges with MAVs has been aerodynamic stability. Bird and insect flight has been an inspiration for engineers trying to overcome this, but practical limitations continue to exist.

One bizarre but fascinating variation on MAV development is the "Cyborg Beetle". In this approach (pictured above), various components are deployed directly onto a host insect (a green june beetle, in this case) to in effect "hijack" the insect. A piezoelectric energy harvester converts energy from wing movements to power sensory instruments like cameras and microphones. Additional electricity is gathered from thin-film solar cells as well as a thermoelectric energy harvester which taps the insects body heat. A neural implant allows a human "pilot" to control the insects flight. One could imagine a swarm of these being released into a mine disaster or earthquake relief situation, their tiny sensors relaying information from areas inaccessible to relief workers.

I thought the blending of organic and electrical components in this amazing, yet vaguely disturbing technology would make an interesting technical illustration. Let me know what you think of the rendering, the cyborg beetle technology, or MAVs in general!

Monday
Jun132011

AMAZING FEATS OF ENGINEERING

As a fan of shows like "Modern Marvels" and "Build it Bigger" I've always been fascinated with giant bridges, buildings, tunnels, and other man-made wonders. My absolute favorite engineering accomplishment is something on a smaller scale, it's claim to fame being speed. Co-developed by the the British and French governments in the sixties, Concorde still makes me gasp anytime I see a picture of this futuristic icon.  

I grew up on Long Island, NY, and I remember the day the British and French Concordes were due to simultaneously arrive at JFK airport for the first time. On my way to school, sure enough, first the British Airways, then the Air France Concorde popped in and out of the clouds overhead, each accompanied by a distinctive guttural shriek that I'd never heard before. I remember they looked like needle-nosed models, their white fuselages stark and quite surreal against the overcast sky. I was incredibly excited and when I got to school I told my Social Studies teacher about it, who casually dismissed my claim (in front of the class) as "highly unlikely", as they would have been flying too high to see at that point of their approach. Anyway, I like to think I was vindicated by the subsequent Concorde appearances over our town that became more commonplace after that.  

I created this vector image of a Concorde some years ago. Looking at it now I think the landing gear interrupts the sinuous curves of the classic delta shape that I love so much, but it was a fun technical illustration anyway.  

Do you have any favorite feats of engineering? I'd love to hear about them.

Concorde technical illustration

Wednesday
Feb162011

LIGHTHOUSE CUTAWAY ART

Lighthouses have a romantic, slightly haunting feeling about them. I took a tour of one as a kid and I remember peering upwards into the close spaces of the inner tower and feeling a little creeped out, imagining some poor guy ascending the steps on a dark, stormy night to illuminate the lantern.

They're fascinating historical icons nonetheless, and great subject matter for a technical illustrator. I wanted to depict one with its most interesting feature–the spiral staircase–exposed. I based this image on the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse in Florida, which I chose because of its relatively large size and the abundance of reference material available for it, including an original architectural drawing. The side perspective was chosen to provide a clear view of the staircase, and architectural details were kept to a minimum to focus attention on the interior. Let me know what you think! 

Thursday
Jan202011

TECHNOLOGY IN SPORTS

As a fan of professional tennis, I thought it would be fun to create an infographic of the amazing video replay technology that's used to call lines on the ATP and WTA tours. The officiating system, known commercially as Hawk-Eye, uses an array of cameras that feed three dimensional coordinates of the flight of the tennis ball into a series of networked computers. The calculated position of the ball is displayed on a video screen and is accurate to within a few millimeters. It even accounts for ball deformation upon impact with the court. Many have speculated how to adapt some form of the system to other sports, particularly soccer, where we witnessed some dubious referee decisions at the 2010 World Cup. Granted, a video replay system would interrupt the continuous flow of play that is unique to soccer, but I'm sure the fans of teams that are sent home early because of a blown call would be willing to put up with that inconvenience. Who knows, it might even increase the entertainment value of the sport, as it has in tennis.

Hawk-Eye video replay infographic