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Emerging Technologies


1 Introduction

  • Before starting the course, you will come across many new words and technical terms.
  • Here is a link to they have created, and are continuing to develop, a glossary of electrical terms.


  • New and Emerging Technologies are being developed all the time.
  • However how do these technologies effect other issues?
  • What is their impact on people, culture and society?
  • What is their impact on industrial production and the environment?

Research it

  • Find a new or emerging technology and briefly describe what it is.


  • People come in all shapes and sizes.
  • How does your technology affect them?
  • Is it going to make their life easier i.e is it a labour saving device e.g. a washing machine ?
  • Is it going to help people with disabilities to do things they have not been able to do before?
  • Is it going to help children to be safer or to learn quicker?


  • Culture are affected in many and subtle ways by technology.
  • Think of the effect the internet on people's lives in the past 20 years.
  • Remote working means that people can work many jobs from home. This saves transport time and cost, reduces pollution but can lead to social isolation.


  • Societies are always affected by changes in the job market.
  • Is your technology going to create new jobs and replace old ones?

2 Impact of emerging Technologies


Driverless cars

  • Tesla and now Audi are both making great progress on the 5 levels of automation required for automous vehicles.
  • A total of 1,792 people lost their lives and 181,384 people became casualties in road traffic accidents in 2016, the highest number since 2011, according to data from the Department for Transport
  • 311 billion vehicle miles of traffic made on the roads in 2014.
  • The average person spends 361 hours a year on the roads. Could these be used for recreation or work?
  • How would this affect people who drive for a living? Taxi drivers, bus drivers, truckers, van drivers, driving instructors.. the list is almost endless.
  • As a society this would have huges changes so lets see how this would effect individual groups.


  • Children would be able to travel in vehicles by themselves. The vehicle would take them to the destination safely and without needed any other assistance other than getting in and out of the vehicle. Disabled people
  • As long as the person is able to access the vehicle they can travel independently not relying on other people.
  • Currently 23% of car journeys made by disabled people are as passengers as opposed to 14% in the able bodied community.
  • On average they travel 4245 miles and opposed to 7670 miles with people without disabilities .
  • Therefore their sense of freedom would be massive improved. Workers
  • New jobs making the new systems to control the traffic.
  • However there would be massive jobs loses in the transport industry.


  • Google estimates that the half the 1.2 million people killed on the roads every year could be saved by self driving cars.


  • If cars were self driving they could be shared therefore saving parking space. This could be reinvented as parks and public spaces.
  • Residential parking areas and driveways could be used as more garden space.
  • Garages would not just store cars.
  • As cars were shared less would be needed - less congesation and faster travel times.

3 Production Techniques



  • Batch is when a small quantity of identical products are made.
  • May also be labour intensive, but jigs and templates are used to aid production.
  • Batches of the product can be made as often as required.
  • The machines can be easily changed to produce a batch of a different product.


  • is derived from the Japanese manufacturing industry.
  • areas for reduction of waste are identified and then improved on.
  • Lean also takes into account waste created through overburden and waste created through unevenness in workloads.


  • this is when hundreds of identical products are made, usually on a production line.
  • often involves the assembly of a number of sub-assemblies of individual components. Parts may be bought from other companies.
  • There is usually some automation of tasks (eg by using Computer Numerical Control machines) and this enables a smaller number of workers to output more products.
  • Products that sell in high volume, nationally or internationally, are manufactured on production or assembly lines.
  • The initial set-up cost (or capital investment) of mass production is high, due to the specialist equipment used - but the cost is spread across a very large number of products, so the unit cost is low.



  • is when only one product is made at a time. Every product is different so it is labour intensive.
  • Products may be made by hand or a combination of hand and machine methods.
  • This can include large scale projects, such as a bridge, ship, stadium, multi-storey building or tower,
  • Other examples of one offs are - specialist jewellery, made to measure clothing, bespoke furniture and many more.
  • Specialist companies manufacturing ‘one offs’, usually employ skilled staff.


  • production is when many thousands of identical products are made.
  • The difference between this and mass production is that the production line is kept running 24 hours a day, seven days a week to maximise production and eliminate the extra costs of starting and stopping the production process.
  • The process is highly automated and few workers are required.

Standardised components

  • It is common practice in modern manufacturing for the production of the components that make up a product to be outsourced to other companies.
  • A car headlight is a standard component and is easily replaced.
  • For example, modern headlights for cars are usually built as a whole unit, rather than an individual lens and reflector. A light could easily be built in France and shipped to the UK to be assembled into a vehicle.
  • The advantage with using standard components is that it speeds up manufacturing and reduces manufacturing and maintenance costs, as the same units can be purchased and used all around the world.