“It all started with the idea to copy a fish.”
That’s how Boston Engineering developed the underwater robot GhostSwimmer, or, as the U.S. Navy prefers to call it, Silent Nemo.
Boston Engineering joined an A-list cast of design and manufacturing innovators and PTC customers this week at PTC Live Global where they discussed their latest products, branding philosophy, and core values, including sustainability, performance, and education.
Boston Engineering’s robotic fish, modeled after a tuna, was one of the highlights. Given the challenge of designing a more maneuverable ROV for the Navy, Boston Engineering found that this particular fish is not only fast and energy-efficient in the water, but can turn 180 degrees in its own body length.
“We went down to Gloucester and met the fishing boats as they came in,” said Boston Engineering’s president and co-founder Bob Treiber.
“We bought the fish right off the boats and took them to a local machine shop.”
The company commandeered a CMM machine to reverse engineer the fish, worked with biologists to study the structure of the tuna, and used digital signal processing to evolve the robot to its most efficient self.
“Underwater robots are following the path of ground and aerial robots,” Treiber said. Soon robots will be coordinated and networked and working together.
Another highlight was Brynn Watson, VP of engineering operations at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. Watson focused on Lockheed’s build of the Orion spacecraft, slated to carry astronauts to Mars by 2020.
Watson was joined on the stage by motorcycle company KTM whose core values in design—purity, performance, adventure, and extreme—have won its bikes 250 world championship titles to date.
“You’re never going to soar like an eagle if you’re hanging out with turkeys,” said Jon-Erik Burleson, president of KTM, North America. “It’s all about being around people who want to be successful.”
Industry giants Embraer and John Deere followed Burleson, and the theme switched to sustainability, for the environment, for the economy, and for the next generation of STEM workers.
Embraer, which has committed to a 50 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050, touted its biofuel planes as well as its new E190-E2 aircraft whose closed loop fly-by-wire design together with its wing and landing-gear door design and other factors give it a 16 percent lower fuel consumption per seat.
Both Embraer and John Deere talked extensively about sustaining the STEM workforce.
In terms of science, technology, engineering and math graduates, both the U.S and Brazil are lagging far behind China— a country in which 40 percent of all degrees awarded are STEM degrees.
But programs like FIRST Robotics and Project Lead the Way—highlighted by Deere’s global director of turf & utility platform engineering David Knight—are making inroads in the United States.
And Brazil too is catching up.
Embraer Institute of Education and Research, which runs two STEM-dedicated schools in São Paulo, has 100 percent of its students passing college entrance exams and more than 80 percent going onto public universities, said Marcelo Pozzetti d’Arce, senior manager at Embraer.
It’s all about investing in the future, concluded Knight.