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Creating magic through digital technology

Advancing digital technology
19 December 2023 2 minute read
Written by Graeme Booth

As video clips and social media posts circulate about Optimus Gen 2 robot, the advanced technology displays more human-like movement, full body control, tactile sensing to hands, and is now capable of performing unsafe, repetitive or boring tasks. The difference between Tesla’s Gen1 and Gen2 robots is not by chance and, without digging into the processes used behind the scenes, there will be many, many 1000s of computational models used to inform the design decisions, as opposed to traditional, physical, build-and-test campaigns.

Given the software and data science expertise within Tesla, there is a key message that underpins their vehicles’ autonomous capability; a capability that includes advanced use of sensors, complete redesign of wiring harness in Cybertruck (ethernet cabling), SpaceX rockets (system reuse, advanced controls and manufacturing processes), Neuralink (brain-machine interfaces), Starlink (advanced comms network), and now the Optimus robots.

So, what is the message?

Digital technology is the enabler.

In his book ‘Profiles of the Future: An Inquiry into the Limits of the Possible’, science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke formulated his famous Three Laws, of which the third law is: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”.

‘Digital’ permeates everything that an engineering organisation needs to do to be successful. Used well, it can dramatically reduce the innovation cycle times as well as improve the robustness and reliability of the end product. 

Often, digital capabilities are delivered under the radar or not given the spotlight they deserve. It’s an odd dichotomy – interest in physical systems that are game changing but with little interest and insight into the software and data technologies that make the magic happen.

Turning to energy systems and the drive to net zero, if you’re a company designing energy systems of the future, are you leveraging digital technology to get there quicker?

Are you applying digital and data expertise to enhance your decision-making and rapidly improve your products? 

Are you investing in the right technology?

If not, why not? As those who are investing in technology and related digital skills will likely overtake you. 

Stay ahead of the curve, take the time to reflect on your digital and data strategy, and strive to deliver products that are ‘indistinguishable from magic’.

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