Experts creating drones that could repair buildings in the future

Robie de Guzman   •   April 29, 2019   •   2790

Courtesy : Reuters

Experts in Britain and Switzerland are building drones which they say will one day autonomously fly around buildings, assessing them and even conducting repairs free of human interference.

Researchers in Britain and Switzerland say future soft, flexible drones will be able to reach areas dangerous for humans such as tunnels, mines or pipelines.

The drones will be able to ‘see’ using computer vision technology, building 3D maps of their surroundings.

Once they spot where a repair is required, they could even summon other drones to fix it.

The project is part of a partnership between Imperial College London and Swiss Federal Laboratories for materials science and technology, EMPA.

EMPA’s next evolution in sustainable building technologies aerial robotics hub and imperial’s aerial robotics lab are being used as hubs for the drones’ development.

Director of the aerial robotics lab and head of EMPA’s materials and technology center of robotics, Dr. Mirko Kovac, said he envisages the drones would be like a building’s immune system, monitoring and repairing it.

But he also looks to nature, saying creepy crawly insects can provide good examples to follow.

“So, we don’t have to build a robot that looks like a spider. We can really just take inspiration of the way how spiders approach manufacturing tasks and this is really what we translated here today,” Kovac said.

A demonstration at the aerial robotics lab in London showed one of the development drones using a magnet to latch onto a metal walkway before descending to hang from a wire.

By moving up and down the wire, the hope is the drone can assess a wall while saving energy. (REUTERS)

Switzerland reopens its border to Italians as coronavirus travel restrictions ease

UNTV News   •   June 15, 2020

The Italian-Swiss border reopened on Monday (June 15) allowing people living in the border towns of Como and Chiasso to freely cross the border which separates the two countries.

A long line of cars carrying Italian cross-border commuters working in the Italian-speaking southern canton of Ticino reached Switzerland through the border of Chiasso as coronavirus (COVID-19) travel restrictions across Europe are gradually eased.

It is hoped the opening of borders with fellow European Union countries could help salvage the summer season for the country’s battered travel and tourism industry.

The Schengen area of 22 EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland operates control-free crossings, but they have been mostly closed for three months to all but goods traffic and critical workers.

Before the crisis, an average of 3.5 million people crossed an internal EU border every day, according to a European Parliament report last year, some 1.7 million of the commuting to work. (Reuters)

(Production: Alex Fraser, Gabriele Pileri, Fabiano Franchitti)

Coronavirus divides lovers, friends at Swiss-German border fences

UNTV News   •   April 6, 2020

Constance, Germany, and Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, are divided cities these days, with a strip of grass and two fences separating them after the countries closed their borders to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

In a park on Lake Constance’s shoreline residents of both cities normally move freely across an invisible line marking where one nation ends and the other begins. But everything has changed: Most Germans cannot come to Switzerland, most Swiss are barred from Germany.

On Sunday, lovers, brothers and sisters, parents and their children, and old friends pressed against the chain links in the spring sunshine, just close enough to say “I love you”, too far apart to touch.

“This is our only chance to stand across from each other, face-to-face,” said Jean-Pierre Walter, a Swiss who drove an hour from Zurich to see his German partner, Maja Bulic. “We can at least speak to each other. That’s something.”

For weeks, they have telephoned or spoken over FaceTime. But fiber optic is no substitute for flesh and blood.

“At some point, you have to see somebody in person,” said Bulic, who drove 2-1/2 hours from near Heidelberg. “It’s difficult, but I know one day it will be different.”

This is a coronavirus no-man’s land. It traces the route of a barbed wire-topped barrier that split Switzerland and Germany during World War Two and that was removed long ago.

The fences have become a meeting point for people divided by the epidemic – and a reminder of its disruption for Europeans accustomed to traveling where they please. Switzerland is not in the European Union, but agreements allow Swiss and the bloc’s citizens to travel virtually unfettered, in normal times. (REUTERS CONNECT)

Switzerland tops ‘most expensive country’ to live in 2019; PH the 28th most affordable

Marje Pelayo   •   July 10, 2019

Street view of a city in Switzerland | Image by Siggy Nowak from Pixabay

MANILA, Philippines – Living in Asia makes one think that travelling to and living in Europe is a mere pipe dream.

Indeed, yes! The 2019 CEOWORLD ranking of the Top 20 ‘most expensive countries on earth to live in’ includes 12 countries in Europe, four in Asia, one in North America, one in the Caribbean and two in Oceania.

Topping the list is Switzerland, followed by Iceland, Norway, Bahamas, Luxembourg, Japan, Denmark, Hong Kong, South Korea, Ireland.

Taking the 11th to the 20th spots are namely: France, the Netherlands, Israel, Belgium, Finland, New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Sweden, and the United States.

Meanwhile, the Philippines ranked 91st in the most expensive list.

That means it is the 28th (the Islamic Republic of Pakistan being the first) most affordable country on earth to live in, according to the report.

CEOWORLD magazine identifies the world’s most and least expensive countries to live in by collecting and reviewing data from studies including consumer price index, cost of living index, and various national and international media reports.

The report assessed the range of living costs including accommodation, transport, utility, eating out, the price of groceries and Internet use among others using the most expensive city of New York, given an index score of 100, as the benchmark.

Countries that scored higher than 100 are more expensive than New York, while those below means they are cheaper.

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