Tag Archives: technology

Money-saving drones?

Robot drones, similar to the ones used in war zones in the Middle East, could  be used for crime fighting in the UK.

At least that’s what the police is calling for, as they launch the National Police Air Service today. Senior officer Alex Marshall thinks they are much cheaper than helicopters, can stay up longer and do things that you couldnt have people doing in the air!  “But is it acceptable to the citizens of Britain to have them in the air? The public needs to find it acceptable and it needs to be within the law.”

Police use remote-controlled drones to control anti-social behaviour

Police use remote-controlled drones to control anti-social behaviour

Indeed. This is an important debate; if we are happy to have military robots fighting our wars abroad, does that mean we want them to police our cities here? What are the benefits to us as citizens, and what is at stake? Will it make us safer, or just save a few (million) quid on the costs of running police air support? And of course, what about the humans behind the remote controlled robots- are they more likely to put people in danger because they are are detached from the ‘action’, are they to be held responsible if their robot accidentally hurts someone?

Lesson idea- to get your students talking about these questions, start them off playing the Robo-lobster game in Futurecade, & in small groups, have them discuss the questions they are shown in their results screen. Use our teacher notes for a little background science and further stimulus questions. Then why not hold a marketplace debate that includes different angles, eg the police force, regular citizens, civil rights activists and an aerospace engineering company. Finish up with a human barometer to guage your students’ personal feelings about seeing unmanned security drones in our skies, and get them to explain where they stand!

If you try this out, why not tell us about it? We’d love to hear from you :)

Designer food, so chic!

Watch out foodies, you may be eating straight from the printer soon!

Turkey and Celery 3D printed cubes

Turkey and celery 3D printed cubes- mmm!

The team at Cornell University’s Computational Synthesis Lab are designing a 3D food printer that you can load with raw food ‘inks’ and print your dinner with! They hope it will change cooking and the future of food production- and mean people can get their meals perfectly customised to their tastes.

Right now the machine only prints with materials that can be squirted from a syringe… building up line by line, and then vertically layer by layer… but they are working on that, as of course people will want to be able to use their own raw materials as ‘inks’ and make their own unique printed edible creations.

Does this leave a bad taste in your mouth? 3D printers could revolutionise medicine by helping us create cartilage and skin quickly and safely in the lab. Is this a better use of the technology? 3D printers are also used to create models and prototypes of objects before they go into mass production. There are plenty of uses for 3D printers- but just because we can do something with technology, does it mean we should?