The Emergence of Diesel Locomotives in 20th Century America

American Locomotive Company (ALCO)

Valerie Varnuska is a resident of the Westbury, NY, area who takes part in local activities such as watching theatrical performances. Among Valerie Varnuska’s interests is classic locomotives and she is particularly drawn to those with powerful engines needed to climb mountains.

The precursor to the modern diesel locomotive arrived in 1918, at a time when steam-powered locomotives had established a predominance in much of American transportation. The new design came about when American Locomotive Company (ALCO) entered into a partnership with General Electric and Ingersoll-Rand to create a diesel-powered motor car. Designed for a New York City connecting line, this vehicle was the first ever to combine railroad tracks with a diesel electric power.

Within five years, the three partner companies had created an even more advanced motor that ran on diesel and pulled a 60 ton boxcar. By the 1930s, 300 horsepower engines had been surpassed and B&O started to run diesel engines across major North American railroad lines.

The reason for diesel’s popularity had to do with the simplicity of mechanical systems and with fuel efficiencies achieved. By the mid-1930s, B&O was making diesel locomotives for smaller passenger trains that ran with less fuel than traditional steam engines, which were on their way out.

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The RoboCup Initiative’s Dream

RoboCup Initiative’s Dream pic

RoboCup Initiative’s Dream
Image: robocup.org

A resident of Westbury, NY, Valerie Varnuska enjoys a range of activities, including robotics. In particular, Valerie Varnuska loves to see the advances made in robotics and finds the fact that some robots can walk fascinating. Further, she enjoys robotics competitions, such as the annual RoboCup Initiative, which aims to further scientific work in robotics and artificial intelligence.

The RoboCup Initiative’s dream is to create robots capable of competing with athletes at an elite level. In particular, it points to how it took just 50 years of development to move from the creation of the first digital computer to the creation of Deep Blue, the first computer to beat a chess Grandmaster.

With that same 50-year time frame in mind, RoboCup has a dream of advancing robotics to the point where a fully autonomous team of humanoid robot soccer players can win a game of soccer against the most recent FIFA World Cup-winning team. It believes that, with a concerted effort by the scientific community, this goal could be achieved midway through the 21st century.