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Engineering Feats by Land and Sea

A passion for creativity is nowhere more evident than in the annual Invent Oregon competition. Let's look into a couple projects from the 2023 finals that fuse creativity and engineering techniques to keep people safe on land and in the sea. Mercury Heels is inspired by barriers to personal mobility and the inconvenience of specific modes of transportation. The second innovation is called Deep Dive Robotics and this was inspired by some of the dangers professional divers face and how perhaps technology can be a solution.

How often have you considered using a skateboard or bicycle for a short commute but discarded the idea due to the inconvenience of having to figure out how to store it? This is the very problem that Mercury Heels, a project developed by an ambitious student entrepreneur, is determined to solve. According to research provided by Statista, non-car modes of transportation have increased by about 5% since 2019, (including public transit, bike, taxi, etc.)

Mercury Heels, founded by Isaac Franklin, a graduate of George Fox University, is trying to introduce the world to the first-ever set of electric inline skates, offering a two-phase solution to this issue. These electric inline skates provide an exhilarating ride and a compact form factor, making them incredibly easy to carry and store. The engineering behind these skates ensures they are lightweight, portable, and user-friendly.

“Just general transportation, personal mobility has been an issue for me. I've always found that I have to walk a lot of places that I'd go. And I also found that I would end up driving my car even just short distances to get to where I needed to go faster, which is not exactly the most convenient… “says Franklin.

But what sets Mercury Heels apart is not just their convenience; it's their commitment to sustainable mobility. By encouraging people to choose electric skates over traditional modes of transport, the project aims to reduce emissions and contribute to a greener future. This ingenious solution enhances personal mobility and aligns with global efforts to combat climate change.

Just as Mercury Heels promotes sustainable mobility to combat climate change, innovative solutions in underwater robotics are making strides in enhancing safety for divers. Deep Dive Robotics has set out to address these concerns by leveraging cutting-edge technology to enhance safety and efficiency. Powered by engineering undergrad students, Mauricio Huntoon DeRoche, Lauren Sadrin, and Daniel Piper, Deep Dive is pioneering innovative sensor technology to drastically reduce the cost of autonomous inspections. By combining advanced sensors with intelligent algorithms, their robot can efficiently assess underwater structures, providing valuable data before human divers are deployed.

"So it started as a robotics club project. We were already building an autonomous robotics submarine for a competition where the robot would have to look around and perform tasks in an Olympics-style pool," says Sadrin.

One of the vital safety features of this project is its ability to send the robot ahead of human divers. By evaluating the conditions and potential hazards beforehand, the robot significantly reduces the risk of accidents for professional divers. This innovation has the potential to save lives and make underwater inspections more accessible and cost-effective.

The ocean's depths hold many secrets and opportunities but also come with their fair share of challenges and dangers. Professional divers who undertake underwater inspections face numerous risks, including hazardous conditions such as respiratory and circulatory risks, low visibility, as well as physical injury from equipment under water.

Mercury Heels and Deep Dive Robotics are shining examples of projects that utilize engineering to make activities and mobility much safer. As we celebrate these creative solutions, it's clear that the future holds even more promise for technologies that make our world more efficient and secure.

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