News

NASA Tests Aircraft Wing Coatings that Slough Bug Guts

Bug guts create drag, and drag increases fuel consumption. But aircraft of the future could be made more fuel-efficient with non-stick coatings NASA recently tested on Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator 757. NASA and Boeing engineers tested non-stick wing coatings designed to shed insect residue and help reduce aircraft fuel consumption. Researchers assessed how well five different coatings worked to prevent insect remains from sticking to the leading edge of the airplane's right wing.

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Fuel Cell Carts Deliver Power to Airplane Galleys

Airplane galleys consume a huge amount of power. Additional power units may soon come to the rescue: housed inside trolley carts in the galleys, these units deliver both supplemental power and thus uncouple the power to the cabin and the kitchen from power supplied to the rest of the aircraft. In addition, the cart does not need new approval every time the airplane gets a retrofit or a facelift.Housed in a trolley cart, the additional power supply for airplanes is easy to stow. (© 2014 Diehl Aerospace GmbH)

Posted in: News, Energy

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System Lets Drones Fly Autonomously and Learn New Routes

Drones, say goodbye to pilots. With the goal of achieving autonomous flight of these aerial vehicles, researchers developed a vision and learning system to control and navigate them without relying on a GPS signal or trained personnel. The method estimates the position and orientation of the vehicle, allowing it to recognize its environment, replacing the GPS location system with low-cost sensors such as accelerometers, gyroscopes, and camcorders.Drone manufactured by Blue Bear Systems Research Ltd. (Investigación y Desarrollo)

Posted in: News, Aerospace, Robotics

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Tiny Origami Robot Folds Itself Up

MIT researchers have developed a printable origami-inspired robot that, when heated, folds itself up from a flat sheet of plastic. The robot weighs a third of a gram and measures about a centimeter from front to back.

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New Fluid Makes Geothermal Power Cleaner

More American homes could be powered by the Earth's natural underground heat with a new, nontoxic, and potentially recyclable liquid that is expected to use half as much water as other fluids used to tap into otherwise unreachable geothermal hot spots. The fluid might be a boon to a new approach to geothermal power called enhanced geothermal systems. These systems pump fluids underground, a step that's called "reservoir stimulation," to enable power production where conventional geothermal doesn't work.

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Smart Tablet Controls Swarms of Robots

Using a tablet and a red beam of light, researchers at Georgia Tech have created a system that controls a fleet of robots with the swipe of a finger. A person taps the tablet to control where the beam of light appears on a floor. The swarm robots then roll toward the illumination, constantly communicating with each other and deciding how to evenly cover the lit area. When the person swipes the tablet to drag the light across the floor, the robots follow. If the operator puts two fingers in different locations on the tablet, the machines will split into teams and repeat the process.

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Handheld Tools Perform Tasks Based on User’s Motions

What if handheld tools knew what needs to be done and were even able to guide and help inexperienced users to complete jobs that require skill? Researchers at the University of Bristol (UK) have developed a novel concept in robotics: intelligent handheld robots.

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