News

Researchers Find 'Golden' Idea for New Wearables

Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology have developed a way to “grow” thin layers of gold on single crystal wafers of silicon, remove the gold foils, and use them as substrates on which to grow other electronic materials. The discovery could lead to new wearable developments, including a smartphone that conforms entirely to one's wrist.

Posted in: News, Materials
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NASA Satellite Data Supports Global Maps of Volcanic Emissions

Volcanoes around the world continuously exhale ash and water vapor laced with heavy metals, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and sulfur dioxide. Researchers from Michigan Technological University created the first, truly global inventory for volcanic sulfur dioxide emissions.

Posted in: News, Imaging
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Advanced Sensor Enables Ultrafast Camera for Self-Driving Vehicles and Drones

Scientists from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore developed an ultrafast high-contrast camera that could help self-driving cars and drones see better in extreme road conditions and in bad weather. Unlike typical optical cameras, which can be blinded by bright light and unable to make out details in the dark, NTU’s new smart camera can record the slightest movements and objects in real time.

Posted in: News, Cameras
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Low-Cost Device uses Light to Detect Oil Spills

Researchers have developed a simple device that can detect an oil spill in water and then pinpoint the type of oil present on the surface. The device is designed to float on the water, where it could remotely monitor a small area susceptible to pollution or track the evolution of contamination at a particular location.

Posted in: News, Test & Measurement
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Algorithm Improves Robots' Ability to Fetch Objects

An algorithm developed at Brown University will improve robots' ability to ask clarifying questions and more effectively retrieve objects, an important task for future robotic assistants.

Posted in: News, Automation, Robotics
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'Tougher-than-Metal' Hydrogels Support New Biomaterials

Scientists from Japan's Hokkaido University have created tough hydrogels combined with woven fiber fabric. The "fiber-reinforced soft composite" fabrics are highly flexible, stronger than metals, and can support a number of potential applications, including artificial ligaments and tendons subjected to load-bearing tension.

Posted in: News, Materials
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Mechanical Metamaterials Can Block Symmetry of Motion

An artist’s rendering of mechanical metamaterials. (Credit: Cockrell School of Engineering)

Engineers and scientists at the University of Texas at Austin and the AMOLF institute in the Netherlands have invented mechanical metamaterials that 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 easily transmits it going out the other side. The researchers developed the mechanical materials using metamaterials, which are synthetic materials with properties that cannot be found in nature.

Posted in: News, Materials, Motion Control
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Exo-Brake “Parachute” to Enable Safe Return for Small Spacecraft

Engineers pack the Technology Education Satellite with the Exo-Brake payload. Almost 4 square feet in cross section (0.35 square meters), the Exo-Brake is made of Mylar and is controlled by a hybrid system of mechanic struts and flexible cord. (Credit: NASA Ames/Dominic Hart)

Engineers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA have been testing its Exo-Brake technology as a simple design that promises to help bring small payloads back through Earth’s atmosphere unharmed. An 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 de-orbit device that replaces the more complicated rocket-based systems that would normally be employed during the de-orbit phase of re-entry.

Posted in: News, Aerospace, Motion Control
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Unified Approach Improves the Accuracy of Five-Axis Machine Tools

Ph.D. students Jennifer Creamer and Le Ma work in Missouri University of Science and Technology’s Precision Motion Control Laboratory. (Credit: Missouri S&T)

Five-axis machine tools are computer-numerically controlled (CNC) machines that can move, cut, or mill a part on five different axes at the same time. Because of inherent geometric errors, manufacturers must make adjustments when calibrating these machines. Several different approaches exist to help compensate for the errors, but none of them provides a complete picture. Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology set out to find a way to eliminate that piecemeal approach and develop a new way to capture complicated geometric errors and automatically generate compensation tables.

Posted in: News, Industrial Controls & Automation, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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Six-Legged Robots Move Faster with Bipod Gate

Researchers have discovered a faster and more efficient gait, never observed in nature, for six-legged robots walking on flat ground. Bio-inspired gaits, which are less efficient for robots, are used by real insects because they have adhesive pads to walk in three dimensions. (Credit: EPFL/Alain Herzog)

Researchers in Lausanne, Switzerland have determined that a bipod gait is the fastest and most efficient way for six-legged robots to move on flat ground, provided they don’t have the adhesive pads used by insects to climb walls and ceilings. This suggests designers of insect-inspired robots should make a break with the nature-inspired tripod-gait paradigm.

Posted in: News, Motion Control, Robotics
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