Share Save Krista Franks Brock is a professional writer and editor who has covered the mortgage banking and default servicing sectors since 2011. Previously, she served as managing editor of DS News and Southern Distinction, a regional lifestyle publication. Her work has appeared in a variety of print and online publications, including Consumers Digest, Dallas Style and Design, DS News and DSNews.com, MReport and theMReport.com. She holds degrees in journalism and art from the University of Georgia. The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Previous: Mortgage Servicers to Advance $3.6B to Mortgage-Backed Securities Next: The Week Ahead: Will Forbearance Volumes Continue to Flatten? May 29, 2020 1,659 Views Subscribe Coronavirus Economic Recovery housing market 2020 2020-05-29 Mike Albanese Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Tagged with: Coronavirus Economic Recovery housing market 2020 Print This Post Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Related Articles Home / Daily Dose / Will Housing Lead Post-Pandemic Recovery? The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago About Author: Krista F. Brock The Week Ahead: Nearing the Forbearance Exit 2 days ago Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Will Housing Lead Post-Pandemic Recovery? Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago Sign up for DS News Daily in Daily Dose, Featured, News Unlike the role it played in the Great Recession that started in 2008, the housing industry may help lead us out of today’s pandemic-induced economic recession, according to Daniel McCue, Senior Research Associate at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. While housing was more of a barrier than a balm in the last economic recovery, it is more typical for the housing industry to serve as a source of strength during an economic recovery. In fact, this has been the case in nearly every recession over the past five decades, according to McCue. In most economic recessions, declining interest rates lead to homebuying and homebuilding, which then lead to spending on consumer goods. In a typical year, residential construction makes up 4% of GDP. However, construction contributed an average of 18% growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) in each year following a recession from 1970 until the Great Recession. After the Great Recession, home construction made up more than its typical share, rising 2 percentage points.One of the main points of difference between the housing market leading into the Great Recession and the market heading into today’s economic downturn is that the housing market prior to 2008 had a “substantial overhang of distressed and foreclosed properties,” which “needed to be absorbed before housing construction could be a driver of recovery,” McCue said. The housing market early this year, however, had tight supply and low vacancies. Vacancy rates and for-sale inventory rates lower than they had been in years. The total housing vacancy rate is 11.4%—2.4 percentage points lower than in 2007. The share of vacant homes for sale is 58% lower than in 2007 and the share of vacant rental properties available is 21% lower. “Hopefully, what these vacancy numbers do suggest is that, in terms of supply, housing construction is not likely to be a barrier to recovery and instead may once again be a source of strength that helps the economy turn around once the worst is over,” McCue said. Two unknowns, however, are the short-term outlook for residential construction and the future of mortgage loan delinquencies. In many places, non-essential residential construction was halted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which could tighten supply even further. Some restrictions are already being lifted, it remains to be seen how many restrictions persist or whether some will have to be reinstated. Delinquency rates picked up during Q1 2020. April witnessed mortgage delinquencies experience their largest monthly increase in history. However, many of these mortgages are in forbearance plans with their lenders.
At the beginning of the decade, George Whitesides helped rewrite the rules of what a machine could be with the development of biologically inspired “soft robots.” Now he’s poised to rewrite them again, with help from some plastic drinking straws.Inspired by arthropod insects and spiders, Whitesides and Alex Nemiroski, a former postdoctoral fellow in Whitesides’ Harvard lab, have created a type of semi-soft robot capable of standing and walking. The team also created a robotic water strider capable of pushing itself along the liquid surface. The robots are described in a recently published paper in the journal Soft Robotics.Unlike earlier generations of soft robots, which could stand and awkwardly walk by inflating air chambers in their bodies, the new robots are designed to be far nimbler. Though real-world applications are still far off, the researchers hope the robots eventually could be used in search operations following natural disasters or in conflict zones.“If you look around the world, there are a lot of things, like spiders and insects, that are very agile,” said Whitesides, the Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor at Harvard. “They can move rapidly, climb on various items, and are able to do things that large, hard robots can’t do because of their weight and form factor. They are among the most versatile organisms on the planet. The question was, how can we build something like that?”The answer, Nemiroski said, came in the form of your average drinking straw.“This all started with an observation that George made, that polypropylene tubes have an excellent strength-to-weight ratio. That opened the door to creating something that has more structural support than purely soft robots have,” he said. “That was the building block, and then we took inspiration from arthropods to figure out how to make a joint and how to use the tubes as an exoskeleton. From there it was a question of how far can your imagination go? Once you have a Lego brick, what kind of castle can you build with it?”What they built, he said, is a surprisingly simple joint.Whitesides and Nemiroski began by cutting a notch in the straws, allowing them to bend. The scientists then inserted short lengths of tubing which, when inflated, would force the joints to extend. A rubber tendon attached on either side would then cause the joint to retract when the tubing deflated.Armed with that simple concept, the team built a one-legged robot capable of crawling, and moved up in complexity as they added a second and then a third leg, allowing the robot to stand on its own.“With every new level of systems complexity, we would have to go back to the original joint and make modifications to make it capable of exerting more force or to be able to support the weight of larger robots,” Nemiroski said. “Eventually, when we graduated to six- or eight-legged arthrobots, making them walk became a challenge from a programming perspective. For example, we looked at the way ants and spiders sequence the motion of their limbs and then tried to figure out whether aspects of these motions were applicable to what we were doing or whether we’d need to develop our own type of walking tailored to these specific types of joints.”While Nemiroski and colleagues were able to control simple robots by hand, using syringes, they turned to computers to control the sequencing of their limbs as the designs increased in complexity.“We put together a microcontroller run by Arduino that uses valves and a central compressor,” he said. “That allowed us the freedom to evolve their gait rapidly.”Though Nemiroski and colleagues were able to replicate ants’ distinctive “triangle” gait using their six-legged robot, duplicating a spider-like gait proved far trickier. “A spider has the ability to modulate the speed at which it extends and contracts its joints to carefully time which limbs are moving forward or backward at any moment,” Nemiroski said. “But in our case, the joints’ motion is binary due to the simplicity of our valving system. Either you switch the valve to the pressure source to inflate the balloon in the joint, and thus extend the limb, or you switch the valve to atmosphere to deflate the joint and thus retract the limb. So in the case of the eight-legged robot, we had to develop our own gait compatible with the binary motion of our joints. I’m sure it’s not a brand-new gait, but we could not duplicate precisely how a spider moves for this robot.”Developing a system that can fine-tune the speed of actuation of the legs, Nemiroski said, would be a useful goal for future research, and would require programmable control over the flow rate supplied to each joint.“We hit that limitation in the system, which I’m actually pretty proud of, because it means we pushed it to its absolute limit,” he said. “We took the basic concept and asked how far can we go before we would have to make radical alterations to how these limbs work, and we found that limit at the eight-legged robot. We were able to make it walk, but if you wanted to make it walk faster, or to add more limbs — for example, to support a load — you would have to start rethinking the system from the ground up.”Though it may be years before the robots find their way into real-world applications, Whitesides believes the techniques used in their development — particularly the use of everyday, off-the-shelf materials — can point the way toward future innovations.“I don’t see any reason to reinvent wheels,” he said. “If you look at drinking straws, they can make them at, effectively, zero cost and with great strength, so why not use them? These are academic prototypes, so they’re very light weight, but it would be fairly easy to imagine building these with a lightweight structural polymer that could hold a substantial weight.”“What’s really attractive here is the simplicity,” added Nemiroski. “This is something George has been championing for some time, and something I grew to appreciate deeply while I was in his lab. For all the complexity of movement and structural integrity we get out of these robots, they’re remarkably simple in terms of construction and control. Using a single, easy-to-find material and a single concept for an actuator, we could achieve complex, multidimensional motion.”This research was supported with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, DARPA, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the National Science Foundation, the Swedish Research Council, and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Powered by a chemical reaction controlled by microfluidics, 3D-printed ‘octobot’ has no electronics The first autonomous, entirely soft robot Related
“Arsenal are doing well at the moment, but the season is a long one.” Chelsea appeared set to cruise to victory at Norwich when Oscar fired the visitors into a fourth-minute lead, but the hosts struck back and equalised through Anthony Pilkington. The Blues were under pressure and broke from a corner for Eden Hazard to score a late second, followed moments later by Willian’s first Chelsea goal, a sublime curling effort from the edge of the area. “To take the three points from this game was for us very important,” Ivanovic added. “You see we tried to do our best, we tried to do everything to take the three points from this game, and in the end it was very important.” Both Hazard and Willian, along with Samuel Eto’o, came off the bench in a display of Chelsea’s firepower. Ivanovic believes there is more to come from Willian and Eto’o, who have both started life at Stamford Bridge slowly following their moves from Anzhi Makhachkala. “Both guys add fantastic quality,” Ivanovic said. “Willian showed he can improve and he can impress all the guys more, and we expect from him a lot. His goal is very important for him for confidence and for motivation. “Eto’o is a guy who is still new in our team, in our squad, and we have tried to help him to settle as quickly as possible.” Ivanovic has been Mourinho’s first-choice right-back this term, but knows no-one at Chelsea is guaranteed a place. Ivanovic added: “With our manager you have to impress him every day. You have to show him every day especially the small details. All of us.” Press Association Branislav Ivanovic hopes Chelsea can kick on following the international break after a start to the season in which Jose Mourinho’s men have remained in contention despite leaving plenty of room for improvement. “When we’re back from the national team we have the very tight schedule of games,” Ivanovic said. “I think we have to work very hard to be top, and use all the squad for these kind of games that are coming up for us. “I think we are (heading) in the right way.” The run of matches includes a game with Arsenal, just two days after the clash with City. However, the Emirates Stadium fixture comes in the Capital One Cup and Mourinho has already suggested he will select an under-21 team due to the proximity of crucial Premier League and Champions League matches. Ivanovic believes the key to the Premier League title race will be to accumulate points when not playing well, as Chelsea did at Carrow Road in their 3-1 win. “This year is going to be a very tough, a very difficult league,” the Serbia defender added. “Every team will have a bad period and a good period. The important thing is in the bad period to take the points, and to stay (in contention). Chelsea enter the international hiatus in third place in the Barclays Premier League, two points behind leaders Arsenal, after claiming a first away win of the league season at Norwich. When club action resumes, Chelsea play seven games in 21 days, beginning with Cardiff, Schalke and Manchester City.