Special Coverage

Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing

Chip-Sized Terahertz Modulator for Faster Data Transmission

This modulator is suitable for THz transmitters/receivers on a single chip.

Tufts University engineers have invented a chip-sized, high-speed modulator that operates at terahertz (THz) frequencies at room temperature and at low voltages without consuming DC power. The discovery could transmit data at significantly higher speeds than currently possible.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers
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Integrated High-Speed Torque Control System for a Robotic Joint

This highly dexterous humanoid robot is designed to handle complex and delicate operations.

Researchers at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC), in collaboration with General Motors and Oceaneering, have designed a state-of-the-art, highly dexterous, humanoid robot: Robonaut 2 (R2). R2's nearly 50 patented and patent-pending technologies have the potential to be game-changers in multiple industries, including logistics and distribution. Even though R2 is currently designed with only a mobile upper body, R2's ability to accomplish complex and delicate operations provides a higher level of sophistication not currently seen in the existing robotics field for logistics and distribution. In terms of handling inventory, R2's dexterity would allow it to handle a multitude of items, including delicate ones. R2 can safely work in close proximity to humans, making the robot suitable to work in complex environments such as distribution centers. R2 has the ability to operate equipment and machines designed for humans, like handheld power tools or inventory-scanning equipment. R2's design enables many useful applications in logistics and distribution.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation
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Acoustic Propagation and Emulation Toolset (APET)

This software suite assesses the effects of terrain, weather, and computational method on acoustic propagation and audibility.

Currently, APET includes a modified version of the Rotorcraft Noise Model (RNM, version 7). It also includes the newly developed Spectral Attenuation Method (SAM), which contains the Ray Tracing Program (RTP) and two versions of a Green's Function Parabolic Equation (GFPE) code. The third component of APET is an audibility prediction scheme initially called ICHIN (I Can Hear It Now), and further developed by Wyle as AUDIB.

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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Developing a Satellite-Based Autonomous Vehicle Control System

This system incorporates a satellite system, multiple sensors, and vehicle control system.

The rapid rise of global interest in the field of autonomous driving is ushering in a new era of automobiles. With many vehicles already offering autonomous preventative safety systems, the addition of improved road infrastructure could increase the reliability and maturity of autonomous driving functions, ultimately increasing the driver's sense of safety.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation
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Wearable Robotic System for Minimally Invasive Surgery

This tool supports and enhances the surgeon's performance in urology, cardiovascular, and orthopedic fields.

Researchers developed a wearable robotic system for minimally invasive surgery (also known as keyhole surgery) that will offer surgeons natural and dexterous movement, as well as the ability to sense, see, control, and safely navigate through the surgical environment. The need for better tools in robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery was identified to support and enhance the surgeon's performance in urology, cardiovascular, and orthopedic fields, and to expand the potential for this technology to more complex surgical procedures.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation
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Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems

Potential applications include networked autonomous cars and delivery drones in which security would be a major issue.

Multi-robot systems deployed in real-world applications are exposed to the same issues that computer systems face. A cybersecurity attack on a robot has the consequences of an attack on a computer system, with the added risk that the robot could be controlled to take potentially damaging action.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation
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AUTONOMIE Automotive System Design Software

AUTONOMIE is a MATLAB-based software environment and framework for automotive control system design, simulation, and analysis. It simulates subsystems, systems, or an entire vehicle, and predicts and analyzes fuel efficiency and performance. The software performs analyses and tests for virtual calibration, verification, and validation of hardware models and algorithms, and supports system hardware and software requirements.

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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Numerical Method to Predict the Evaporation Time of a Water Droplet Attached to a Solid Boundary in the Presence of Fluid Flow

One of the objectives of the In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) RESOLVE project was to extract water from lunar regolith by heating and then capturing and quantifying the released water. A potentially large error in measurements would occur if some of the water condensed in the piping between the oven and the water capture bed. Questions arise if condensation were to occur (either because of a low-temperature or high-pressure area): 1) how long would it take for convection and diffusion to evaporate the droplet back into the process stream, 2) how will it affect the ISRU RESOLVE process, 3) can accurate data be obtained, 4) how much longer will the process have to run to capture all the water, and 5) what conditions are the most favorable to quicken the evaporation process?

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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Functionalization of Carbon Nanotubes

These multi-functional composite materials have applications in body armor, radiators, chemical sensors, computers, and electronics.

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have attracted much attention due to their extraordinary mechanical and unique electronic properties. CNTs are being studied for applications in high-strength/low-weight composites and other applications. In order to alter the CNT properties for particular applications, chemical functionalization may be necessary. Development of multifunctional composite materials may require functionalization of a collection of CNTs to allow the tubes to be dispersed more easily in a host matrix.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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Carbon Fiber and Fiber Metal Laminate Composites Reinforced with Metallic Glass

This new class of composites has applications in aerospace, automotive, sporting goods, military, and defense.

Carbon fiber (CF) and carbon fiber composites have gained widespread use in recent years due to their unique combination of high strength and stiffness-to-weight ratio. To improve their mechanical properties, CF is sometimes used as a laminate, usually with aluminum, to improve the impact and residual strength properties of the CF. By bonding sheets of CF and aluminum, it was noticed that fatigue crack growth rates could be reduced in the laminates, as compared to monolithic sheets of either material. These composites have been referred to as CF metal laminates (CFMLs), and they are generally comprised of thin sheets of metal alloys (not always Al) and plies of fiber (not always carbon fiber) reinforced with polymeric materials.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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