Special Coverage


Is a sleeper ship our best bet to Mars?

At the Center for Research in Advanced Materials (CIMAV), scientists "captured" the energy produced by people walking. The team designed a pill-shaped cylinder adapted to a shoe in order to store the mechanical-vibrational energy that the person generates when walking. Similarly, the London-based company Pavegen produces a technology that harvests mechanical energy of walking feet and converts it to electrical energy via a special floor tile. Both ideas perhaps could lead to cities using the alternative, piezoelectric solutions to create power when and where it is required. What do you think? Will we harvest energy with our own footsteps?

Posted in: Question of the Week


Coming Soon - Increasing Automotive Safety and Fuel Efficiency through Wireless Tire Pressure Monitoring Sensors

As a leader in the tire pressure monitoring sensor market, Freescale is addressing the combined automotive need for active and predictive safety systems as well as fuel efficiency. During this Webinar, Freescale will present its next-generation solutions' unique capabilities for designers of tire pressure monitoring systems, enabling life-saving safety features and fuel-efficient driving through properly inflated tires.

Posted in: Upcoming Webinars


Imaging System Obtains More Color Information than Human Eye

Researchers at the University of Granada have designed a new imaging system capable of obtaining up to twelve times more color information than the human eye and conventional cameras, which implies a total of 36 color channels. The important scientific development will facilitate the easy capture of multispectral images in real time.The technology could be used in the not-too-distant future to create new assisted vehicle driving systems, to identify counterfeit bills and documents, or to obtain more accurate medical images than those provided by current options.The scientists, from the Color Imaging Lab group at the Optics Department, University of Granada, have designed the new system using a new generation of sensors, in combination with a matrix of multispectral filters to improve their performance.Transverse Field Detectors (TFDs) extract the full color information from each pixel in the image without the need for a layer of color filter on them.In order to do so, the TFDs take advantage of a physical phenomenon by virtue of which each photon penetrates at a different depth depending on its wavelength, i.e., its color. In this way, by collecting these photons at different depths on the silice surface of the sensor, the different channels of color can be separated.SourceAlso: Learn about Imaging Space System Architectures.

Posted in: Cameras, Imaging, Sensors, Detectors, Medical, News, Automotive


Robots Restore Electricity After Power Outages

A team led by Nina Mahmoudian of Michigan Technological University has developed a tabletop model of a robot team that can bring power to places that need it the most.“If we can regain power in communication towers, then we can find the people we need to rescue,” says Mahmoudian, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering–engineering mechanics. “And the human rescuers can communicate with each other.”Unfortunately, cell towers are often located in hard-to-reach places, she says. “If we could deploy robots there, that would be the first step toward recovery.”The team has programmed robots to restore power in small electrical networks, linking up power cords and batteries to light a little lamp or set a flag to waving with a small electrical motor. The robots operate independently, choosing the shortest path and avoiding obstacles, just as you would want them to if they were hooking up an emergency power source to a cell tower.“Our robots can carry batteries, or possibly a photovoltaic system or a generator,” Mahmoudian said. The team is also working with Wayne Weaver, the Dave House Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering, to incorporate a power converter, since different systems and countries have different electrical requirements. SourceAlso: Learn about Locomotion of Amorphous Surface Robots.

Posted in: Batteries, Electronics & Computers, Power Management, Energy Storage, Solar Power, Energy, Communications, Wireless, Machinery & Automation, Robotics, News


High Precision Multi-channel PXIe Systems Realize More Efficient Wind Tunnel Testing

Wind tunnel testing is widely used in large-scale aerodynamic design projects. Even so, the requirement for large numbers of sensors over large areas of the devices to be tested presents major challenges in data acquisition and retrieval. The article discusses use of multi-channel PXIe systems to achieve fully synchronous, high-efficiency, highly precise measurement solutions. Attributes include: PXIe technology providing effective single-system integration with multiple combinations of a wide variety of sensors PXIe platforms’ PC-based structure delivering easily deployed superior computing power along with networking capability, minimizing development time and simplifying setup

Posted in: Test & Measurement, White Papers


Coming Soon - PDM Solutions for Small SolidWorks Teams

Product data management (PDM) software can be overkill for small CAD teams. But without PDM you face the risks of losing track of your CAD models, overwriting models, and having users working on the wrong version of a model. So how can your team move from email and FTP to a PDM system that makes sense for SolidWorks users?

Posted in: Upcoming Webinars


Underwater Robot Skims for Port Security

MIT researchers unveiled an oval-shaped submersible robot, a little smaller than a football, with a flattened panel on one side that it can slide along an underwater surface to perform ultrasound scans.Originally designed to look for cracks in nuclear reactors’ water tanks, the robot could also inspect ships for the false hulls and propeller shafts that smugglers frequently use to hide contraband. Because of its small size and unique propulsion mechanism — which leaves no visible wake — the robots could, in theory, be concealed in clumps of algae or other camouflage. Fleets of them could swarm over ships at port without alerting smugglers and giving them the chance to jettison their cargo.Sampriti Bhattacharyya, a graduate student in mechanical engineering, built the main structural components of the robot using a 3-D printer. Half of the robot — the half with the flattened panel — is waterproof and houses the electronics. The other half is permeable and houses the propulsion system, which consists of six pumps that expel water through rubber tubes.Two of those tubes vent on the side of the robot opposite the flattened panel, so they can keep it pressed against whatever surface the robot is inspecting. The other four tubes vent in pairs at opposite ends of the robot’s long axis and control its locomotion.SourceAlso: Learn about Underwater Localization for Transit and Reconnaissance Autonomy.

Posted in: Imaging, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling, Motion Control, Power Transmission, Machinery & Automation, Robotics, News