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Mechanical Metamaterials Block Symmetry of Motion

These nonreciprocal metamaterials can benefit applications such as soft robotics, prosthetics, and energy harvesting.Engineers and scientists at the University of Texas at Austin and the AMOLF institute in the Netherlands have invented mechanical metamaterials that easily transfer motion in one direction while blocking it in the other. The material can be thought of as a mechanical one-way shield that blocks energy from coming in but transmits it going out the other side. The researchers developed the nonreciprocal mechanical materials using metamaterials, which are synthetic materials with properties that cannot be found in nature.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation, Product development, Fabrication, Materials properties

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Portable Superconductivity Systems for Small Motors

Substituting for a conventional permanent magnet, this system can produce a 3-tesla magnetic field.Superconductivity, where electrical currents travel unhindered through a material, has many practical uses. It is used in applications extending from MRIs in hospitals to the cavities of particle accelerators. However, practical exploitation of superconductivity also presents many challenges.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation, Downsizing, Off-board vehicle charging systems, Nuclear energy, Conductivity, Magnetic materials, Electric motors

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BiBlade Sampling Chain

This tool enables multiple sampling attempts per sample.The BiBlade sampler has been developed for potentially acquiring samples from the surface of a planetary body. The tool could conceivably be used in both in situ and notional sample return missions to planetary bodies including asteroids, comets, and moons. While the tool was designed for planetary sampling missions, it could have terrestrial applications as well.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation, Soils, Tools and equipment, Robotics, Test equipment and instrumentation, Spacecraft

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Six-Legged Robots Move Faster with Bipod Gate

The two-legged gait is more efficient for ground robots that don't climb walls or ceilings.Six-legged insects run fastest using a three-legged (tripod) gait where they have three legs on the ground at all times (two on one side of their body and one on the other). The tripod gait has long inspired engineers who design six-legged robots, but researchers at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the University of Lausanne (UNIL) revealed that there is a faster way for robots to move on flat ground, provided they don't have the adhesive pads used by insects to climb walls and ceilings. Their work suggest designers of insect-inspired robots should give up the tripod-gait paradigm and consider other possibilities, including a new locomotor strategy denoted as the “bipod” gait.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation, Computer simulation, Mathematical models, Kinematics, Robotics, Biomechanics

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Reducing Inaccuracies in Force/Haptic Feedback Systems

This novel algorithm automatically compensates for the errors introduced by physical factors, enabling the control system to Adjust the applied force accurately.Researchers at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center have developed a new technology to reduce inaccuracies in force/haptic feedback devices and systems. Used at NASA in aircraft simulations for force feedback pilot controls, these systems involve a servo motor applying precise force to a specific point based on very accurate measurements. However, because the force instrumentation often cannot be placed directly at the point of interest, a mechanical assembly is used, linking the force transducer to the target point. Unfortunately, this mechanical assembly introduces inaccuracies due to its own forces of gravity, friction, and inertia.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation, Computer simulation, Mathematical models, Human machine interface (HMI), Aircraft operations, Reliability

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Exo-Brake Enables Safe Return for Small Spacecraft

The tension-based, flexible braking device resembles a cross parachute.NASA's Exo-Brake is a critical technology that can potentially help science payloads return to Earth from the International Space Station through the deployment of small spacecraft. The Exo-Brake is a tension-based, flexible braking device resembling a cross-parachute that deploys from the rear of a satellite to increase the drag. It is a deorbit device that replaces the more complicated rocket-based systems that would normally be employed during the deorbit phase of re-entry.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation, Product development, Drag, Entry, descent, and landing, Satellites, Spacecraft

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Rescue Robot Has Remote Control Function

A group of Japanese researchers developed a prototype construction robot for disaster relief situations.A group of researchers at Osaka University, Kobe University, Tohoku University, The University of Tokyo, and Tokyo Institute of Technology developed construction robots for disaster relief that solve the various challenges of conventional construction machines used in such situations. Using a prototype machine, verification tests were performed in places that represented disaster sites to confirm successful performance. This prototype looks like an ordinary hydraulic excavator, but uses the following technologies: The rescue robot is shown with a UAV. (Image: Hiroshi Yoshinada)

Posted in: Briefs, Automation, Robotics, Disaster and emergency management, Emergency management, Robotics, Construction vehicles and equipment, Rescue and emergency vehicles and equipment

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