Software predicts the lifespans of machines by 'cloning' them

DigitalClone extends the lifespan of helicopters and space telescopes by creating virtual simulations of their parts.

US Marine Corps

In some cases, machine breakdowns are more than just inconveniences -- in the military, they can spell disaster on the battlefield. Software is quickly eliminating those rude surprises, however. NASA spinoff Sentient Science has been offering DigitalClone, a software tool that predicts failures by 'cloning' parts. It uses an understanding of the physics of a given part, such as friction and wear, to determine when that gear is likely to break. The clone is uncannily accurate (Sentient Science has sensors to confirm its data), making it easy to extend the lifespan of a device by replacing parts before there's a crisis.

The US military is the highest-profile customer at the moment, using DigitalClone in everything from helicopters (such as the Super Stallion you see above) to the F-35. However, it also has some high-profile uses elsewhere, including the Hubble Space Telescope, wind energy turbines and medical implants. This cloning technology isn't applicable everywhere, and you probably aren't about to see it used in everyday personal devices. It's not going to tell you when your smartphone is going to crash, unfortunately. With that in mind, you'll know who to thank if you see fewer broken vehicles.