In the news this week:
3D printing has taken the world by storm, revolutionising medicine, advanced materials, and now the construction industry. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, have designed and built a system that can 3D print an entire building. The system comprises a tracked vehicle that carries a large, industrial robotic arm, with a smaller, precision-motion robotic arm at its end that can be used to direct any conventional (or unconventional) construction nozzle, such as those used for pouring concrete or spraying insulation material, as well as additional digital fabrication end effectors, such as a milling head.
Unlike typical 3-D printing systems, most of which use some kind of enclosed, fixed structure to support their nozzles and are limited to building objects that can fit within their overall enclosure, this free-moving system can construct an object of any size. The team used a prototype to build the basic structure of the walls of a 50-foot-diameter, 12-foot-high dome – in less than 14 hours. You can read more about the robotic system in the journal Science Robotics or here.
The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committee published a report setting out their recommendations for energy and climate change policies following the UK’s departure from the EU. Fortunately for household consumers, all studies thus far have concluded that the UK should not experience any energy price hikes post-Brexit. However, concerns remain over the future of climate change policies. The UK has long been a driver of ambitious climate change targets in EU policy, but weakening such policies could make the UK a ‘dumping ground’ for inefficient and dirty manufacturing processes. The committee has asserted that any incoming government must continue to explore progressive climate change measures. Read the full report here.
This week, the Royal Society has published a number of documents revealing that freedom of movement of scientists and researchers is key in the advancement of science. In 2016, the percentage of academic staff that hailed from outside the UK was 29%, while just over half of PhD students studying in Britain are foreign. Of all EU states, the UK benefits from the highest numbers of academic staff coming from overseas, while almost three quarters of all academic staff have been trained or worked abroad. The large numbers of non-UK staff have helped to promote partnerships between British and foreign universities, bringing in funding and furthering reputations. These statistics have been welcomed by the scientific community as adding further evidence to the notion that the free movement of labour is crucial for the development of UK science.