CLOSE
Original image
NASA/Paul Bagby

NASA is Designing a Plane Coating to Slough Off Bugs

Original image
NASA/Paul Bagby

Little bugs can turn into big problems for jets. When dead bugs accumulate on the body and wings of an airplane, it disrupts what’s called laminar flow, the smooth movement of the air across the surface of the plane. This, in turn, causes turbulence and drag, increasing the amount of fuel necessary to fly. 

For years, NASA’s bug team has been trying to find a way to combat insect-induced drag on aircraft. They even shoot bugs through a wind tunnel at 150 mph to mimic the effects of take off and landing. Most recently, the Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) Project tested five different non-stick wing coats on planes taking off and landing at an airport in Shreveport, La., where bugs are plentiful. 

There’s a reason insects stick to high-speed vehicles like cars and planes. When a bug goes splat against a surface at high velocity, its blood actually gets tackier. “We learned when a bug hits and its body ruptures the blood starts undergoing some chemical changes to make it stickier," Mia Siochi, a senior materials scientist with NASA, explains in a press statement. "That's basically the survival mechanism for the bug."

The new anti-bug coatings are designed to mimic a lotus leaf, which features microscopic rough, pointy patches that keep liquid from spreading out and sticking to the surface. One coating reduced the number of bugs splattered across the right wing of the test plane by 40 percent. Goodbye, bug guts! Now, when do we get this for windshields? 

[h/t: Washington Post]

Original image
Courtesy Umbrellium
arrow
Design
These LED Crosswalks Adapt to Whoever Is Crossing
Original image
Courtesy Umbrellium

Crosswalks are an often-neglected part of urban design; they’re usually just white stripes on dark asphalt. But recently, they’re getting more exciting—and safer—makeovers. In the Netherlands, there is a glow-in-the-dark crosswalk. In western India, there is a 3D crosswalk. And now, in London, there’s an interactive LED crosswalk that changes its configuration based on the situation, as Fast Company reports.

Created by the London-based design studio Umbrellium, the Starling Crossing (short for the much more tongue-twisting STigmergic Adaptive Responsive LearnING Crossing) changes its layout, size, configuration, and other design factors based on who’s waiting to cross and where they’re going.

“The Starling Crossing is a pedestrian crossing, built on today’s technology, that puts people first, enabling them to cross safely the way they want to cross, rather than one that tells them they can only cross in one place or a fixed way,” the company writes. That means that the system—which relies on cameras and artificial intelligence to monitor both pedestrian and vehicle traffic—adapts based on road conditions and where it thinks a pedestrian is going to go.

Starling Crossing - overview from Umbrellium on Vimeo.

If a bike is coming down the street, for example, it will project a place for the cyclist to wait for the light in the crosswalk. If the person is veering left like they’re going to cross diagonally, it will move the light-up crosswalk that way. During rush hour, when there are more pedestrians trying to get across the street, it will widen to accommodate them. It can also detect wet or dark conditions, making the crosswalk path wider to give pedestrians more of a buffer zone. Though the neural network can calculate people’s trajectories and velocity, it can also trigger a pattern of warning lights to alert people that they’re about to walk right into an oncoming bike or other unexpected hazard.

All this is to say that the system adapts to the reality of the road and traffic patterns, rather than forcing pedestrians to stay within the confines of a crosswalk system that was designed for car traffic.

The prototype is currently installed on a TV studio set in London, not a real road, and it still has plenty of safety testing to go through before it will appear on a road near you. But hopefully this is the kind of road infrastructure we’ll soon be able to see out in the real world.

[h/t Fast Company]

Original image
iStock
arrow
fun
Here's How to Turn an IKEA Box Into a Spaceship
Original image
iStock

Since IKEA boxes are designed to contain entire furniture items, they could probably fit a small child once they’re emptied of any flat-packed component pieces. This means they have great potential as makeshift forts—or even as play spaceships, according to one of the Swedish furniture brand’s print ads, which was spotted by Design Taxi.

First highlighted by Ads of the World, the advertisement—which was created by Miami Ad School, New York—shows that IKEA is helping customers transform used boxes into build-it-yourself “SPÄCE SHIPS” for children. The company provides play kits, which come with both an instruction manual and cardboard "tools" for tiny builders to wield during the construction process.

As for the furniture boxes themselves, they're emblazoned with the words “You see a box, they see a spaceship." As if you won't be climbing into the completed product along with the kids …

Check out the ad below:

[h/t Design Taxi]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios