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Looking to the Future: What’s Coming in 2017

December 28, 2016
Posted By: Kat Dornian, Fluor Champion of Engineering Communication

Innovation happens all around us. In the last few years we’ve seen a rapid rise of electric vehicle technology, the development of reusable rockets and more accessible virtual reality systems. In the years to come, we’re going to see amazing innovations that will contribute to solving extraordinary challenges, like halting climate change and curing chronic diseases. These inventions couldn’t happen without cross-disciplinary collaborations. When science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) come together, extraordinary things happen. Perhaps you’ll be working on something that will change the world in years to come. For now, keep your eyes open for some of these amazing innovations coming in 2017:

Space

For thousands and thousands of years, humans have been looking at the stars. The gazing continues in 2017 with lots of eyes on exoplanets (planets that orbit suns outside our solar system). By studying these celestial bodies, we hope to learn more about how we came to be and perhaps even find other life in our galaxy.

The European Space Agency (ESA) plans to launch the Characterising ExOplanet Satellite (CHEOPS) in late 2017 (or early 2018). This space telescope will look at nearby stars with known exoplanets. Astronomers will be able to use the satellite's data to determine the planets’ densities and compositions. Learn more about CHEOPS here.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will also be on the hunt for exoplanets with a new satellite in late 2017 (or early 2018). The Transiting Exoplanet Survery Satellite (TESS) will have its eyes on more than 200,000 stars. It will track their brightness for signs of transiting exoplanets not visible with ground telescopes. Read more from NASA here.

Since the two satellites are only set for launch later in the year we won’t have any news until 2018, but we are well on our way to mapping out our galactic neighbourhood.

Transportation

In October of this year, Otto — the self-driving truck company owned by Uber — made its first delivery. Self-driving trucks have been in testing for several years. This news shows that it won’t be long before we see full fleets of autonomous rigs (on highways, at least). Read the news here.

On top of that, the UK company Charge expects to be selling their autonomous-ready smart trucks in 2017. It will still be a while before autonomous vehicles are more prevalent, but the trucking industry is gearing up for the change. Find out more about Charge here.

TELUS Spark is also gearing up for an autonomous vehicle. There are plans to implement a driverless shuttle to transport people from the Calgary Zoo to the science centre in 2018. Read more here.

Drones and Pizza

Amazon Prime Air made their first drone delivery earlier in December. Testing continues throughout 2017 with select customers in the UK. It likely won’t be long before anyone can get Amazon orders from the flying delivery vehicles.  Read more here.

There’s something better than goods from Amazon: pizza! Domino’s Pizza in New Zealand has plans to test drone-delivered pizza in January and could launch a full fleet by the end of 2017. Read more about it here.

Speaking of pizza, a company called Beehex designed a 3D printer that can make pizzas. Although no pizza establishments are using the Beehex printer yet, we could start seeing them at special locations in the USA in 2017. The amazing creations can be made in any shape with any pattern of sauce and cheese. See them in action here.

Energy

Earlier in 2016, Elon Musk announced his new solar roof technology. These roofs have solar cells built into every shingle, making the roof look great while also capturing the sun’s power. Tests have already proven the functionality of this technology. Production of these tiles should start in 2017 at the new Tesla Gigafactory in Buffalo, New York. That means we could start seeing more homes donning these powerful new roofs soon. Find out more here.

It’s no doubt that as the cost of solar panels continues to decrease more people will be getting them installed. In fact, the City of Calgary recently launched a solar potential map so you can look at where the best place to stick panels on your home might be. Check it out here.

Computing

The quantum race is on and it won’t be long before a company creates the machine that will outperform all today’s supercomputers. Google’s D-Wave, IBM, and Rigetti have all been dashing to create the first true quantum computer. Google has made some lofty promises about a 50-qubit machine for 2017. If this is the case, machine-learning capabilities will explode and data encryption security will improve. Read more about Google’s quantum computer here.

With all that’s coming in 2017, it begs the question: what part will you play? Innovation happens when curious and committed people collaborate on something their passionate about. So, what are you passionate about? Will you be exploring nearby exoplanets or figuring out how to harness the sun’s power? Whatever you do, have courage and make the next world-changing innovations of the years to come.