Engineers design structures to withstand the maximum possible stress loads. But building with the worst-case-scenario in mind can be expensive. So researchers at the University of Stuttgart created the SmartShell which is designed to be a more affordable building technique that doesn't sacrifice safety.
The lightweight shell is just 1.6-inches thick, but it's able to withstand tremendous forces thanks to hydraulic pistons located at three of its four corners. Thanks to an array of built-in sensors, as stresses on the shell change, like from the wind changing direction, the pistons instantly adjust its shape so the stress load is evenly distributed over its entire structure.
Eventually the technology could be applied to something like the roof of a large stadium. Allowing it to be lighter and cheaper to build, but just as strong since the added stresses of wind, rain, or even snow could be automatically minimized, instead of the whole structure just collapsing. [University of Stuttgart via Gizmag]