News

Soft Electronics Change the Way Robot Fingers Move

A new soft robotic gripper made out of rubber and stretchable electrodes can bend and pick up delicate objects like eggs and paper. It uses electroadhesion – flexible electrode flaps that act like a thumb-index gripper – to pick up fragile objects of arbitrary shape and stiffness, like an egg, a water balloon, or paper.

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Algorithm Analyzes Vibrations to Monitor Machinery Health

An artificial intelligence algorithm was developed that greatly increases accuracy in diagnosing the health of complex mechanical systems. Typical vibration analysis searches for anomalies in the vibration of machinery such as engines and gearboxes. These changes in vibration can signal wear and future maintenance needs long before the machinery fails.

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Do you want to be a "space tourist"?

This week's Question: After more than three years of construction, Virgin Galactic unveiled its new spaceship at the Mojave Air & Space Port in California. Physicist Stephen Hawking named the new vehicle Virgin Spaceship (VSS) Unity. Although the spacecraft faces an extensive testing period, the company plans to ferry passengers up to 50 miles above the Earth's surface. What do you think? Do you want to be a "space tourist"?  

Posted in: Question of the Week

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Robotic Drones to 'Print' Emergency Shelters

Researchers from the University of Bath, Imperial College, and University College London have developed robotic drones designed to "print" emergency shelters. The flying robots will autonomously assess and manufacture building structures to help areas suffering from natural disasters.

Posted in: News, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling

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NASA Uses Electric Propulsion in Experimental Plane

NASA is researching ideas that could lead to developing an electric propulsion-powered aircraft that would be quieter, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly than today's commuter aircraft. The proposed piloted experimental airplane is called Sceptor, short for the Scalable Convergent Electric Propulsion Technology and Operations Research. The concept involves removing the wing from an Italian-built Tecnam P2006T aircraft and replacing it with an experimental wing integrated with electric motors.

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Graphene Composite Could Keep Wings Ice-Free

A thin coating of graphene nanoribbons in epoxy developed at Rice University has proven effective at melting ice on a helicopter blade. The lab melted centimeter-thick ice from a static helicopter rotor blade in a -4° F environment. When a small voltage was applied, the coating delivered electrothermal heat – called Joule heating – to the surface, which melted the ice.

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Are wearable health devices effective?

This week's Question: The market for smartwatches and fitness bands is growing, but how effective are today's wearable health devices? A study from Lancaster University, the University of the West of England, and Nottingham Trent says that the technologies are marketed under the premise that they will help improve general health and fitness, yet the majority of manufacturers provide no empirical evidence to support the effectiveness of their products. Evidence for the value of the wearables is anecdotal, according to the researchers, and there is little scientific evidence as to how they improve health. What do you think? Are wearable health devices effective?

Posted in: Question of the Week

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