It seems that the shortage of running semiconductors is not getting better, and if the recent spate of computer thefts from semi-trucks gives any indication, it is going to get worse. Thieves appear to be targeting Freightliner Cascadia, possibly by stealing “Smash and Grab” targeting the most popular heavy freight truck on the North American road, the CPC4 or the Common Powertrain control module. These modules are ducky – they are easy to detect and remove, the lack of chips has made the legal modules from dealers almost incomplete and the truck will not run without them. This drives the black market value of a CPC to 8,000 or more, making them a tempting target. And it’s not just individual trucks parked at the truck stop lot that are being hit; Gangs are entering the lot of the trucking company and in a short time dozens of trucks are hitting the bricks. So supply chain problems that start with semiconductor deficiencies cause module deficiencies, which lead thieves to steal modules and take trucks off the road, which only exacerbates supply chain deficits that start the whole thing. Excellent positive feedback loop.
Speaking of crime, the 007 is probably the least judicious of all the gadgets available on its Aston-Martin DB5 courtesy of Q Branch boffins, to actually equip your car with a license plate flipper. But the minimum justifiable means not legal, because two men in California learned when they were arrested for having a plate-flipper in a Mercedes. The pair used the flipper to help avoid security camera notices when stealing from vehicles in the parking garage, which overturned the plate so that it could not be seen. The plate flipper shown in the video below is quite clever – it poses as a somewhat stocked-showing license plate frame that obviously hides a small motor. It looks like something that is commercially available, although it would be quite easy to print something 3D Nah, I forgot we said that.
Are you tired of the heartbreak of self-opened burritos? God knows we are, but fortunately we live in the future, where edible adhesive tape is one thing. Or maybe soon, if the “tasty tape” invented by some of Johns Hopkins’ engineering students goes somewhere. The contents of the edible tape are being kept tight due to a pending patent application, but they will say that the tape is completely edible and uses common ingredients and additives in the food industry. A casual inspection of the list of ingredients in any pre-packaged food item suggests that this means they had a huge cupboard to work with, so we’ll be interested to see what’s in there. From the pictures in the article it looks almost like Nari, but they say that the version was colored for presentation and the production recipe gives a clear tape. Which is better, because that blue thing doesn’t show too much “taste”.
And finally, last week we featured the last painful seconds of a Starship Delivery Robot, whose guiding system betrayed it by telling it to cross the railroad tracks at the most inopportune moment. Knowing that no one was hurt – except for college students who didn’t get their pizza, of course – makes it easy to laugh at the sniff film, especially when the bot’s lithium batteries did what it takes to smash lithium batteries. A train. But this picture of wandering in the forest of a seemingly lost starship is a little less interesting. It was taken to England, where the delivery bot was seen descending from a trail in a nature reserve. It turns out that instead of getting lost, the bot was exactly where it wanted to be – the paved trail was actually the shortest route to its delivery destination, so those who thought the bot went wild were wrong. After all, not everyone who wanders is lost.