The march of technology is not a straight line. It can take leaps (internet), occasionally stop completely (dark ages), depend on big project steps and raw power (Apollo), or occasionally it seems to do a jitterbug and move all over the place at the same time.
When it jitterbugs it seems the world belongs to the independent designers and experimenters with innovations driven by individuals who have new visions coming from all directions. This happened in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s and is today celebrated as Steampunk.
Today we might be in the middle of another one of these waves. Unless I am deluding myself, it sure feels there is a lot of jitterbugging going on lately.
This is one example; the Project Zero Tilt Rotor, an electric tilt rotor aircraft, that was developed by a small team of skunk works engineers, and recently flown. But there are so many more.
Consider the following:
- Solar Impulse. Solar powered flight by an international group of enthusiasts
- LNG Shipboard Fuels. An organic trend with many small players all over the world
- Planet Solar PV Solar powered ocean transits by a group of enthusiasts
- Home Solar by middle class home owner enthusiasts
- Private Astronautics by a club of truly wealthy individuals, but individuals all the same.
- Startup Electric Car Companies by wealthy individuals
- Google Glasses as a side project driven by very wealthy visionaries
- Automated Driving as proven with a tiny bit of seed funding and engineering students
- Remote Power Monitoring by big and small players and each can win.
- Very advanced composites resulting in a very fast America’s Cup.
All these developments are novel, but, most remarkably, all of them are the product of individual vision rather than some corporate progressions or government mega programs. Additionally, they all are more focused on finesse and efficiencies rather than raw power.
As a small engineering firm, we are pleased to have been involved at various levels in some of these ventures and are happy to participate in these projects where we can. These are exciting times, and the excitement keeps us young. We have to stay young. M&O has been around since 1875, so, after having lived through the steampunk era, the nukepunk era and the cyberpunk era, we certainly don’t want to miss the days of commonly available solar powered flight, automated driving, readily available high speed sail and spaceflight for the public and all that other cool stuff that we get to play with in the not too distant future.
This trend needs a name. How about Efficiopunk?