6 engineering marvels that tamed ‘impossible’ terrain to cut travel time

If a mountain stands between you and your destination, the logical solution is to go around it – unless, of course, you find a way to go through it. What seems like an impossible feat to the rest of us, it is merely a challenge for determined engineers. Had Joseph Strauss listened to experts who deemed building a bridge from San Francisco to Marin County was impractical, then the Golden Gate Bridge may never have been built.

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By the end of 2016, it’ll be possible to travel through the Alps in a high-speed train, thanks to the opening of the Gotthard Base Tunnel. Not only will it shorten the trip for passengers, but make it faster to deliver goods. Like the Golden Gate, the Gotthard, along with these five other modern engineering marvels, not only cut down on travel time, but make it possible to get from one place to another – something earlier generations could only dream of. Here are six incredible recent projects that make traveling over land a little less daunting.

Emerging Tech

Purdue’s robotic hummingbird is nearly as nimble as the real thing

A team of engineers in Purdue University’s Bio-Robotics Lab have developed an impressively agile flying robot, modeled after the hummingbird. Check it out in all its robotic hovering glory.
Emerging Tech

Lilium Jet takes flight in first test for all-electric, five-seater aircraft

German startup Lilium had a successful maiden flight for its Lilium Jet. The all-electric, five-seater aircraft, powered by 36 engines fitted under its wings, looks to travel up to 300 kilometers in just 60 minutes.
Emerging Tech

USC’s penny-sized robotic bee is the most sci-fi thing you’ll see all week

Engineers at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles have built a bee-inspired robot that weighs just 95 milligrams and is smaller than a penny. Check it out in action here.
Gaming

Get ready to slay spiders and skeletons in real life with Minecraft Earth

Minecraft Earth is the new augmented reality mobile game that uses the Minecraft engine. We have everything you need to know including the release date, features, price, phone compatibility, and more.
Smart Home

Power on and off: Kasa Outdoor Smart Plug by TP-Link brings weatherproof smarts

The Kasa Outdoor Wi-Fi Smart Plug grants remote control of two outlets in an IP-64 weather resistant housing. Simple and straightforward, this smart plug is a great fit for summer lighting.
Emerging Tech

The grid of the future will be powered by … giant subterranean bagpipes?

In order to transition to a more renewable-focused energy system, we need to scale up our grid storage capacity --- and our existing methods aren't going to cut it. Could compressed air be the key?
Emerging Tech

Burgers are just the beginning: Embracing the future of lab-grown everything

You’ve almost certainly heard of the 'farm to fork' movement, but what about 'lab to table'? Welcome to the fast-evolving world of lab-grown meat. Is this the future of food as we know it?
Emerging Tech

Inside the Ocean Cleanup’s ambitious plan to rid the ocean of plastic waste

In 2013, Boyan Slat crowdfunded $2.2 million to fund the Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit organization that builds big, floating trash collectors and sets them out to sea, where they’re designed to autonomously gobble up garbage.
Emerging Tech

Climeworks wants to clean the atmosphere with a fleet of truck-sized vacuums

Using machines that resemble jet engines, Climeworks wants to fight climate change by extracting CO2 from thin air. The gas can then be sold to carbonated drink and agriculture companies, or sequestered underground.
Emerging Tech

Geoengineering is risky and unproven, but soon it might be necessary

Geoengineering is a field dedicated to purposely changing the world's climate using technology. Call it 'playing god' if you must; here's why its proponents believe it absolutely must happen.
Emerging Tech

The holy grail of robotics: Inside the quest to build a mechanical human hand

Building an ultra-accurate robot hand has long been the Holy Grail for robotics experts. With its Dexterous Hand project, the U.K.-based Shadow Robot Company may have pulled it off.
Emerging Tech

How a clever photography trick is bringing Seattle’s shipwrecks to the surface

The Global Underwater Explorers dive in the waters around Seattle, which are filled with shipwrecks and sunken planes. Kees Beemster Leverenz uses photogrammetry to make 3D models of the wrecks.
Features

The man, the GIF, the legend: An interview with Giphy founder Alex Chung

To get the scoop on Giphy's meteoric rise, Digital Trends dropped by the company's New York HQ and sat down with CEO and founder Alex Chung. During the interview, he hinted at a few of the awesome new things the company plans to release in…
Smart Home

The world is switching to eco-friendlier fridges and A/Cs, leaving the U.S. behind

If you live in the U.S., there’s a good chance that your refrigerator uses HFC refrigerants, which emit a lot of greenhouse gases. Hydrocarbon alternatives exist, but what will it take to make the switch?