Heavy Construction News – Newly discovered ‘Casper’ octopod at risk from deep-sea mining — ScienceDaily

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Last spring, researchers made headlines with the discovery of what was surely a new species of octopod, crawling along the seafloor at a record-breaking ocean depth of more than 4,000 meters (about 2.5 miles) off Necker Island near Hawaii. The octopod’s colorless and squishy appearance immediately inspired the nickname “Casper.” Now, a report published in Current Biology on December 19 reveals that these ghost-like, deep-sea octopods lay their eggs on the dead stalks of sponges attached to seafloor nodules rich in the increasingly valuable metals used in cell phones and computers.

“Presumably, the female octopod then broods these eggs, probably for as long as it takes until they hatch — which may be a number of years,” says Autun Purser of the Alfred Wegener Institute’s Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Germany.

“The brooding observation is important as these sponges only grow in some areas on small, hard nodules or rocky crusts of interest to mining companies because of the metal they contain,” including manganese, he adds. “The removal of these nodules may therefore put the lifecycle of these octopods at risk.”

Purser explains that the deep-sea manganese nodules form similarly to pearls in an oyster. In a process that could take millions of years, metals gradually build up in rocky layers onto a small starting seed, perhaps a shell fragment or a shark’s tooth.

“These nodules look a bit like a potato, and are made up of rings of different shells of metal-rich layers,” Purser says. “They are interesting to companies as many of the metals contained are ‘high-tech’ metals, useful in producing mobile phones and other modern computing equipment, and most of the land sources of these metals have already been found and are becoming more expensive to buy.”

Purser says that little was known about the creatures found in the deep-sea environments where those attractive metals are found. In a series of recent cruises, the researchers set out to find the organisms that live there and to understand how the ecosystem and animals might be impacted by mining activities.

Their studies have shown that octopods are numerous in manganese crust areas, precisely where miners would hope to extract metals of interest. The mineral-biota association that they observed is a first for any octopod lacking fins (a group known as incirrate octopods), and it puts these captivating octopods, which live their long lives at a slow pace, at particular risk.

“As long-lived creatures, recovery will take a long time and may not be possible if all the hard seafloor is removed,” Purser says. “This would be a great loss to biodiversity in the deep sea and may also have important knock on effects. Octopods are sizable creatures, which eat a lot of other smaller creatures, so if the octopods are removed, the other populations will change in difficult to predict ways.”

Purser says that he and his colleagues continue to study the nodules and their importance to microbes and animals both small and large, including starfish, crabs, and fish.

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Materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


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Heavy Construction News – Dual-arm construction robot with remote-control function — ScienceDaily – #Construction #News

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A group of Japanese researchers developed a new concept construction robot for disaster relief situations. This robot has a double swing dual arm mechanism and has drastically improved operability and mobility compared to conventional construction machines.

In disaster areas, operating heavy construction equipment remotely and autonomously is necessary, but conventional remote-controlled heavy equipment has problems such as insufficient operability, inability to perform heavy-duty work, limited mobility on slopes and stairs, and low work efficiency because of difficult remote control. Thus, fundamental solutions to such problems have been sought after.

As part of the Impulsing Paradigm Challenge through Disruptive Technologies Program (ImPACT)’s Tough Robotics Challenge Program, researchers from Osaka University, Kobe University, Tohoku University, Tohoku University, The University of Tokyo, and Tokyo Institute of Technology, tackle these challenges.

This group of researchers attempts to solve these challenges by developing a prototype robot with a double swing dual arm mechanism and hydraulic-powered robotic hands. Using this robot, this group aims for discontinuous innovation; they try to drastically increase the efficiency of work and movement through the dual arm robot capable of handling heavy objects and by excavating and gripping with its high-powered hands. Specifically, this robot has the following functions.

1. A double swing dual arm mechanism capable of performing heavy work with high operability and terrain adaptability (smooth mobility on slopes and stairs).

In the double swing dual arm mechanism of this robot, its right and left arms and the rotating portion of its shoulders are on the same axis. Because of this, the robot can use bearings with far bigger diameter on its rotation portion as compared to humans and animals, whose shoulder joints are arranged on different axes.

Also, these arms are supported close to the robot’s center of gravity, providing the robot with a high degree of stability. This structure allows the robot to withstand high loads and perform heavy-duty work. Additionally, since each coaxially-arranged arm rotates at 360 degrees, there is no distinction between right and left hands, which allows the user to freely change the layout of the robot’s hands.

2. Multi-fingered hand for construction robots

This group has developed a 4-fingered hand for use with construction robots and has equipped it to one of the robot’s arms. The operating modes — excavation and grip — can be selected by changing the hand’s shape. It is also possible to change the hand according to the shape of objects and control a wide range of grip strength.

3. Basic technology for enhancement of remote controls

This robot has the capability to allow a remote operator to precisely control the robot with the senses of force and touch as if he/she is actually touching the target object. This robot is equipped with a multi-rotor unmanned aircraft vehicle UAV (“drone”) with power supply through electric lines, which allows the operator to view objects and terrain from different viewpoints without a robot-mounted camera. This robot also has a bird’s-eye view image composition system. These functions make the robot’s precise tasks and movement over intricate terrain easy.

Researchers in this group think that these functions will dramatically increase construction equipment’s capacity to deal with large-scale disasters and accidents and believe it is possible that the replacement of conventional construction equipment with this robot will drastically change civil engineering and construction methods. The researchers aim at achieving practical use of this robot to disaster relief situations within a few years through future improvement, integration with basic technology, and performance limit tests.

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Materials provided by Osaka University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


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Heavy Construction News – Gov. Cuomo Orders Acceleration of Construction on Bridges and Tunnels :: Story ID: 34893 :: Construction Equipment Guide – #Construction #News

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📅   Fri June 23, 2017 – Northeast Edition #13

The Verrazano Narrows Bridge construction is one of several projects Gov. Cuomo has ordered accelerated by five months.
(HDR photo)

The Verrazano Narrows Bridge construction is one of several projects Gov. Cuomo has ordered accelerated by five months.
(HDR photo)


Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has ordered an acceleration of the construction on MTA bridges and tunnels to mitigate the effects of additional vehicles on the road caused by Amtrak’s emergency repair work this summer. This aggressive schedule ensures major construction projects will be completed by July 8 to reduce vehicular congestion during Amtrak’s extended period of widespread reduced service. Cuomo’s order will mean that all major commuting crossings will be cashless and all lanes will be open during the daytime.

“Our top priority is ensuring all New Yorkers can get where they need to go as quickly and easily as possible this summer and we’re taking every conceivable step to prepare for Amtrak’s summer of hell,” Cuomo said. “By aggressively expediting construction we are taking action to ease commutes and provide New Yorkers with peace of mind.”

A special interagency team, composed of the governor’s office, the department of transportation and the MTA, is overseeing the expedited construction. In May, Cuomo directed the MTA to develop a comprehensive mitigation plan to combat the Pennsylvania Station summer crisis. Amtrak is proposing repairs that would reduce the number of trains at Pennsylvania Station by approximately 20 percent during peak travel times and as a result, commuters searching for alternative methods of transportation will crush an already overburdened subway system and clog roads and bridges.

Construction projects that will be accelerated for completion by July 8th are:

Verrazano Narrows Bridge:

• ORT Construction: Cashless Tolling Go Live date accelerated by nearly five months, from Nov. 30, 2017, to July 8, 2017. This will improve traffic flow by allowing customers to travel without stopping to pay a toll.

• New Bus/HOV Lane on Upper Level: Project completion accelerated five months, from November 2017 to week of June 19th, 2017, allowing for the opening of the Brooklyn bound Bus/HOV lane. Will result in a continuous 14-mi. Bus/HOV lane from Staten Island to Lower Manhattan — improving traffic flow on the Staten Island and Gowanus Expressways — providing up to 15 minutes reduction in travel time for more than 30,000 daily commuters. Adding this 7th lane increases roadway capacity by 16 percent.

• New Bus/HOV Ramp: Completed one month early, the ramp will link the Verrazano bridge to the Gowanus Expressway with the new Bus/HOV ramp.

Queens-Midtown Tunnel:

• Sandy Reconstruction: Accelerated construction of the north tube from Aug. 31, 2017, to July 8, 2017. Motorists will experience full use of both tubes during daytime hours with suspension of daytime weekend closures starting July 8, 2017, which will significantly improve customer travel time.

Manhattan Downtown Exit Plaza Rehabilitation:

Completion by July 4, 2017. The entire ramp will be re-opened to operate at its full two-lane capacity for customers using the downtown Manhattan exit ramp of the QMT. One of the two ramp lanes has been closed since Sept. 16, 2016.

Robert F. Kennedy Bridge:

• ORT Construction: Cashless Tolling Go Live date accelerated two and a half months, from Aug. 31, 2017, to June 15, 2017. Improves traffic flow by allowing customers to travel without stopping to pay a toll.

• New 125th Street Manhattan on-bound ramp to RFK Bridge: Accelerated ramp reconstruction by six months from Dec. 31, 2017, to June 30, 2017. Project restores full capacity of the ramp with both lanes opened, thereby improving traffic flow from Manhattan to Queens/Bronx. One of the two lanes has been closed since Feb. 29, 2016.

• Reconstruction of Queens to Manhattan Ramp: Construction completion by July 8, 2017. One lane has been closed to accommodate ramp reconstruction since July 23, 2016. Restoring this ramp to its full capacity will improve traffic flow and ease congestion in this heavily traveled corridor.

• Queens and Bronx Bound Plaza Reconstruction: Construction completion accelerated three months, from September 2017 to June 30, 2017. Project will improve roadway alignment and traffic flow.

• Bronx and Manhattan Toll Plaza Demolition: Accelerated demolition of toll booths to July 8, 2017, from original Sept. 30, 2017.

Hugh L Carey Tunnel:

• Brooklyn Plaza Reconstruction: Fast tracked completion to July 7, 2017, from original completion date of July 15, 2017. This project opens up the plaza to free-flow traffic. Restores evening contra-flow traffic by providing three outbound lanes from lower Manhattan, which will ease the evening commute.


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