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Self-Healing Wire Insulation
Thermomechanical Methodology for Stabilizing Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) Response
Space Optical Communications Using Laser Beams
High Field Superconducting Magnets
Active Response Gravity Offload and Method
Strat-X
Sonar Inspection Robot System
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Rice Crop Models Stabilize Global Markets and Enable Efficient Irrigation

NASA satellite data gives rice producers and buyers comprehensive crop projections. When global food prices spiked dramatically in late 2007 and into 2008, with the costs of many basic dietary staples doubling or even tripling, protests and riots upset much of the developing world. Following the price spike, world leaders gathered to figure out how to foresee and avert such market instabilities in the future, and a major product of those meetings was the Group on Earth Observations’ Global Agricultural Monitoring (GEOGLAM) initiative, carried out by a partnership of governments and international organizations in the G20 nations. The initiative relies primarily on satellite Earth-imaging data to improve projections of crop production and weather forecasting.

Posted in: Articles, Spinoff, Aerospace

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Advantages of Servo Motor and Direct Drive Technology

For many years, stepper motors have been the most popular type of electric motor designed into instrumentation for a wide variety of reasons. Stepper motors have become increasingly commoditized, and can be sourced easily. In addition, the growing “maker movement” has simultaneously made them more popular and reduced their cost. Unlike servo motors, stepper motors don’t require tuning to optimize their performance. What’s more, scaling and motion commands are typically quick and simple to execute using stepper motors. Servo motors often require a bit more expertise in executing complicated (torque, velocity, or position) loop closures. Finally, micro-stepping allows most modern drive electronics to step or increment a stepper motor to a resolution of 50,800 steps per revolution or higher.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Motors & Drives

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An Inside Look at Electromechanical Power-Off Braking Options

Making the right choice between spring set and permanent magnet brakes can impact safety, durability, maintenance, and performance. Power-off brakes are designed to hold or stop motion in the absence of power. Adding an electrical current releases the brake, freeing the load for motion. Given the safety ramifications of keeping a system locked in place until it is powered up, motion control system designers tend to specify power-off brakes more often than power-on brakes. There are, however, two different failsafe brake technologies: one uses compression springs to hold its load in place, and the other uses permanent magnets. Each has specific strengths and weaknesses, and knowing the difference can impact safety, durability, cost, and performance.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control

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Smart Cameras Get Smarter

How Actionable Data Drives Today’s Imaging Technology Cameras are the eyes of the modern world. The devices equip today’s cars and machines, and real-time imaging capabilities support law enforcement, businesses, and homeowners. Thus far, cameras have been just that: simple cameras, eyes without a brain. Their sole purpose has been, primarily, to output images. Nowadays, however, cameras are “smarter.” In this article, we will review how imaging technology’s ability to intelligently process data will support new insights and applications.

Posted in: Articles, Features, Cameras, Imaging, Photonics

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Delivering Industrial Reliability in Scientific Lasers

Industrial-strength design and production methodologies improve the quality and productivity of scientific lasers. Scientific laser users have long relied on state-of-the-art performance (e.g., higher peak power, shorter pulse duration, wider wavelength tuning) to achieve groundbreaking results. Unfortunately, this high performance has often been emphasized at the expense of ease-of-use and reliability. Recently, however, this paradigm has dramatically changed, and some of the latest scientific lasers — including complex ultrafast amplifiers — now deliver both cutting-edge performance and exceptional reliability. This advance is sometimes referred to as “The Industrial Revolution in Ultrafast Science.”

Posted in: Articles, Features, Imaging, Lasers & Laser Systems, Photonics

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Multiphysics CAE of a Shock Absorber

Figure 1. CAE simulation of a shock absorber. Shock absorbers are important parts of vehicles. The shock absorber is used to observe the vibrations from shock loads due to irregularities of the road surface, and operates without affecting the stability, steering, or handling of the vehicle. Generally, for light vehicles, cylindrical coil springs are used as suspension elements. The application described in this article attempts to analyze performance of a shock absorber with different suspension springs. This analysis includes comparative modeling and analysis of solid height, damping performance, oscillation capabilities of closed coil conical and cylindrical compression springs, and a suggested suitable design for improved performance.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Motion Control

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Machine Vision System Measures ‘Drops’ in Citrus Grove Health

A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher has developed a machine vision system to measure the quantity of a citrus grove’s dropped and decayed oranges. The fallen fruit provides an indication of a so-far incurable disease that has been spreading through Florida’s trees since its first appearance in the state in 2005.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Applications, Imaging, Photonics

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