Virtual cities: Designing the metropolises of the future

Simulation software that can create accurate “digital twins” of entire cities is enabling planners, designers and engineers to improve their designs and measure the effect changes will have on the lives of citizens. Cities are hugely complex and dynamic creations. They live and breathe. Think about all the parts: millions of people, schools, offices, shops, parks, utilities, hospitals, homes and transport systems. Changing one aspect affects many others. Which is why planning is such a hard job. So imagine having a tool at your disposal that could answer questions such as “What will happen to pedestrian and traffic flow if we put the new metro station here?” or “How can we persuade more people to leave their cars at home when they go to work?” This is where 3D simulation […]

In China, a link between happiness and air quality

For many years, China has been struggling to tackle high pollution levels that are crippling its major cities. Indeed, a recent study by researchers at Chinese Hong Kong University has found that air pollution in the country causes an average of 1.1 million premature deaths each year and costs its economy $38 billion. Now researchers at MIT have discovered that air pollution in China’s cities may be contributing to low levels of happiness amongst the country’s urban population. In a paper published today in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, a research team led by Siqi Zheng, the Samuel Tak Lee Associate Professor in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning and Center for Real Estate, and the Faculty Director of MIT China Future City Lab, reveals that higher levels of pollution […]

Microrobotics: Ingesting tiny robots to treat diseases

Microrobotics research at EPFL and ETH Zurich means that in the future, we may be able to ingest tiny robots which deliver drugs directly to diseased tissue. The team of scientists is led by Selman Sakar at EPFL and Bradley Nelson at ETH Zurich. The microrobotics research into highly flexible, biocompatible microrobots was inspired by bacteria. Nelson added: “Nature has evolved a multitude of microorganisms that change shape as their environmental conditions change. This basic principle inspired our microrobot design. The key challenge for us was to develop the physics that describe the types of changes we were interested in, and then to integrate this with new fabrication technologies.” The challenge of creating a microrobot Microrobots are able to swim through fluids, modify their shape when necessary, and pass through narrow blood vessels […]