Modular Climbing Robot Splits into Multiple Explorer Bots

A prototype of the Detachable Compliant Modular Robot (DCMR).

Researchers from the Robotics Research Centre at the International Institute of Technology – Hyderabad (IIIT-H), have developed a stair and obstacle climbing robot that can disassemble itself into smaller robots, and then reassemble back into one device. As a composite system, the Detachable Compliant Modular Robot (DCMR) can climb steep obstacles and staircases, and explore uneven terrain. When it detaches into multiple robots, it can explore cramped spaces, traverse flat terrain, and behave as a Multi Agent System (MAS).

Posted in: News, Motion Control, Robotics
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Actuated Smartwatch Moves in Five Directions

The Cito prototype rotates, hinges, translates, rises, and orbits to add convenience for smartwatch users. (Credit: Jun Gong)

In an effort to make digital smartwatches more convenient for users, researchers at Dartmouth College and the University of Waterloo have produced a prototype watch face named Cito that moves in five different directions. With the ability to rotate, hinge, translate, rise, and orbit, the model improves functionality and addresses some of the limitations of today’s fixed-face watches.

Posted in: News, Motion Control
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Mechanical Actuators Bend as They “Breathe”

The equipment used for testing the new materials. (Credit: MIT)

Extreme temperatures can severely strain a mechanical component because its material may have trouble enduring the heat without degrading. To address the problem, researchers at MIT developed a new material that expands and contracts as it lets oxygen in and out. The result is a new way to make actuators that could be used in extremely hot environments.

Posted in: News, Materials, Mechanical Components, Motion Control
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Sound-Off: How Do You Secure the ‘Connected’ Car?

What are the best ways to detect and prevent cyberattacks on today's 'connected' cars? Share your thoughts and "Sound Off!"

Posted in: News, Automotive
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3D-Printed Soft Robot ‘Walks’ on Any Terrain

Traditional robots often feature isolated mechanical joints. These discrete components limit a rover’s ability to traverse sand, stone, and other challenging environments.

A team at the University of California San Diego has demonstrated a more flexible option: a soft robot that lifts its legs over obstacles and operates on a variety of terrains. The 3D-printed quadrupedal technology may someday support search-and-rescue missions requiring intelligent navigation capabilities.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Materials, Automation, Robotics
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Coming to a Lab Bench Near You: Femtosecond X-Ray Spectroscopy

Upon light activation (in purple, bottom row’s ball-and-stick diagram), the cyclic structure of the 1,3-cyclohexadiene molecule rapidly unravels into a near-linear shape in just 200 femtoseconds. Using ultrafast X-ray spectroscopy, researchers have captured in real time the accompanying transformation of the molecule’s outer electron “clouds” (in yellow and teal, top row’s sphere diagram) as the structure unfurls. (Credit: Kristina Chang/Berkeley Lab)

The ephemeral electron movements in a transient state of a reaction important in biochemical and optoelectronic processes have been captured and, for the first time, directly characterized using ultrafast X-ray spectroscopy at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Like many rearrangements of molecular structures, the ring-opening reactions in this study occur on timescales of hundreds of femtoseconds (1 femtosecond equals a millionth of a billionth of a second). The researchers were able to collect snapshots of the electronic structure during the reaction by using femtosecond pulses of X-ray light on a tabletop apparatus.

Posted in: News, Lasers & Laser Systems, Optics, Photonics, Measuring Instruments, Test & Measurement
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Engineers Invent Method to Control Light Propagation in Waveguides

Artistic illustration of a photonic integrated device. In one arm an incident fundamental waveguide mode (with one lobe in the waveguide cross-section) is converted into the second-order mode (with two lobes in the waveguide cross-section). In the other arm the incident fundamental waveguide mode is converted into strong surface waves. (Illustration courtesy of Adam Overvig and Nanfang Yu)

A team of Columbia Engineering researchers, led by Applied Physics Assistant Professor Nanfang Yu, has invented a method to control light propagating in confined pathways, or waveguides, with high efficiency by using nano-antennas. To demonstrate this technique, they built photonic integrated devices that not only had record-small footprints but were also able to maintain optimal performance over an unprecedented broad wavelength range.

Posted in: News, Nanotechnology, Optical Components, Optics, Photonics
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Need Glass? Push Print.

LLNL researchers have reported the synthesis of 3D printed transparent glass components using a "slurry" of silica particles extruded through a direct-ink writing process. From left: LLNL chemical engineer and project lead Rebecca Dylla-Spears and LLNL materials engineer Du Nguyen.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists and academic collaborators from the University of Minnesota and Oklahoma State University have demonstrated the synthesis of transparent glass through 3D printing, a development that could ultimately lead to altering the design and structure of lasers and other devices that incorporate optics.

Posted in: News, Lasers & Laser Systems, Optical Components, Optics
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Sound-Off: How are Collaborative Robots Being Used Today?

Are you seeing collaborative robots being integrated into today's production and manufacturing environments? Tech Briefs invites you to "Sound Off" on the role of "cobots."

Posted in: News, Robotics
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What's New on Tech Briefs: Brickmaking on Mars a 'Smashing' Success

With support from Congress and the President, NASA aims to send a manned mission to Mars by 2040. Establishing a human presence on the Red Planet, however, will require permanent shelters.

And lugging a pile of bricks on the nine-month, 35-million-mile trip is out of the question.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling
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