Being one of the oldest branches of engineering, mechanical engineering has evolved partly due to academic interest and partly due to industrial utility. The academic interest in this branch has been spurred by the best engineering colleges for mechanical branches. The industrial interest in this domain has been fuelled by commercial utility of the branch as well as the large number of applications of this branch. As a matter of fact, the evolution in mechanical engineering has given rise to new research areas. In this article, we take a look at the emerging areas of mechanical engineering that have a great amount of industrial utility.
Autonomous Vehicles and Self Driving Cars
Autonomous vehicles and self-driving cars are the most recent yet exciting applications of mechanical engineering. A large number of companies including Tesla are investing in autonomous vehicles because such vehicles are regarded as future modes of transportation. Needless to mention, the investment in autonomous vehicles is also driven by commercial interest.
Autonomous vehicles, driverless cars and flying taxis would be the most prominent advancement of mechanical engineering once they become successful. On a smaller level, the trials of autonomous cars have been going on in countries like Singapore. Although the mechanical progress of self-driving cars has been phenomenal, various concerns have been raised on the ethical issues. For instance, one of the questions that has been doing rounds in the trial stage is the responsibility of the manufacturer if the self-driving cars meet an accident. The transfer of the burden of responsibility has been debated and various arguments have been put forward on this issue.
Three-dimensional manufacturing owes its origin to 3D printing. Three-dimensional manufacturing is one of the most important and emerging research areas in mechanical engineering. With the help of three dimensional manufacturing, it is possible to construct various types of structures using the designer materials. The time taken in three-dimensional manufacturing is also very little as the entire process is preprogrammed. Three-dimensional manufacturing has also been used to construct various types of bionic materials. Three dimensional manufacturing is slowly gaining commercial importance as various types of smart materials are being conceived with the help of this technology. In the present time, such materials are being constructed with this technology that are able to change their shape, colour and even size. So, three dimensional manufacturing has really integrated mechanical engineering with material science in the present times.
Computer Aided Design
Computer aided design is very suitable for looking at the structural and architectural aspects of mechanical engineering. Computer aided design enables us to understand the working of various mechanical parts of machines. We can think of Computer aided design as the basic process that allows us to understand the design and development of various mechanical devices. With the help of computer aided design, we are able to analyze the microstructure of various mechanical components. For instance, it is possible to construct the most complex mechanical structures and analyze them in a very simple way with the help of visualisation techniques of computer aided design.
Sustainable Locomotion And Transportation
Another important research area within mechanical engineering that has commercial significance at the same time is that transportation sector. Logistics and mobility are two important processes that determine the overall functioning and efficiency of the transportation system. Needless to mention, the focus of mechanical engineering in the present time is fully on smart mobility systems. The most advanced smart mobility systems allow the transport of men and material from one place to another within the shortest span of time possible. One example of this advancement is provided by the Hyperloop system.
Smart mobility is not only the most phenomenal research area within mechanical engineering but it is also important from a commercial perspective. This is because the energy consumption of the present transportation system is unsuitable from the environmental perspective as well. Hence, the need of the hour is to accentuate the design and development of smart mobility systems that are fuel efficient, safe and environmentally friendly.
Future Prospects And The Way Ahead
Mechanical engineering in the coming times will be driven by such advancements that aim at making the lives of human beings better and comfortable. The time is not far when we see flying taxis as the prime means of transportation in smart cities and these smart cities would in turn revolve around the idea of greenfield and sustainable development.