Morphable Surfaces Reduce Air Resistance

A morphable surface developed by an MIT team can change surface texture — from smooth to dimpled, and back again — through changes in pressure. When the inside pressure is reduced, the flexible material shrinks, and the stiffer outer layer wrinkles. Increasing pressure returns the surface to a smooth state. Adding golf ball-like dimples to surfaces could reduce drag and improve efficiency of vehicles.The ability to change the surface in real time comes from the use of a multilayer material with a stiff skin and a soft interior — the same basic configuration that causes smooth plums to dry into wrinkly prunes. To mimic that process, the team made a hollow ball of soft material with a stiff skin — with both layers made of rubberlike materials — then extracted air from the hollow interior to make the ball shrink and its surface wrinkle.Because the surface texture can be controlled by adjusting the balls’ interior pressure, the degree of drag reduction can be controlled at will. “We can generate that surface topography, or erase it,” said MIT’s Pedro Reis. “That reversibility is why this is pretty interesting; you can switch the drag-reducing effect on and off, and tune it.”Many researchers have studied various kinds of wrinkled surfaces, with possible applications in areas such as adhesion, or even unusual optical properties. “But we are the first to use wrinkling for aerodynamic properties,” said Reis.SourceAlso: Learn about other innovative Materials and Coatings.

Posted in: Materials, Coatings & Adhesives, Transportation, Automotive, News


Pedestrian Detection System Captures Body Heat

Researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) have designed a new pedestrian detection system for cars that works in low-visibility conditions using infrared cameras to capture body heat. The new driving-aid system uses images captured by far infrared with two thermal cameras to identify the presence of individuals in their field of vision. The objective is to alert the driver to the presence of pedestrians in the path of the vehicle, and in the case of cars with automated systems, actually stop the vehicle.

Posted in: Cameras, Imaging, Sensors, Detectors, Transportation, Automotive, News


Testing Composite Structures for Stronger Bridges

The J. Lohr Structures Laboratory at South Dakota State University helps companies develop new materials and products — self-consolidating concrete columns and pre-stress concrete bridge girders — that bridge a physical gap. Over the past decade, researchers have conducted structural testing on large- and full-scale test specimens for private companies and government entities.

Posted in: Materials, Composites, Test & Measurement, Transportation, News


Driving Simulator Helps Engineers Calculate Human Factor

Simulations are an important development tool in the automobile and utility vehicle. The properties of vehicle components, such as how they respond in an accident, their reliability, or their energy efficiency can be investigated using simulations before the first component is manufactured. Researchers developed an interactive driving simulator using RODOS (robot-based driving and operation simulator) with which realistic interaction between human and vehicle can be analyzed.

Posted in: Motion Control, Software, Simulation Software, Transportation, Automotive, Machinery & Automation, Robotics, News


Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Test System

SAKOR Technologies, Inc. (Okemos, MI) designed and installed a complete turnkey Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Test System for UQM Technologies, Inc. (Longmont, CO), a manufacturer of high-efficiency electric propulsion systems. UQM will use the system to test inverters and traction motors for use in hybrid and electric vehicles for the automotive, commercial truck, bus, and military markets.

Posted in: Batteries, Power Supplies, Electronics, Power Management, Energy Efficiency, Test & Measurement, Transportation, Products


Organic Photovoltaics - Forecasts for the Next Decade

Today there are multiple devices available for harnessing solar energy. Each device offers a different set of characteristics. Wafer-based devices consist of mono or polycrystalline and are the most mature technology due to the experience borrowed from the microelectronics industry.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Solar Power, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Energy Harvesting, Automotive, Articles, Features


Low-Platinum Electrocatalysts for Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles

Tune in for a live webcast from the U.S. Department of Energy on June 19th, from 12-1 p.m. EDT. Electrocatalysts developed by Brookhaven National Laboratory's (BNL) scientists use less costly platinum and increase the effectiveness of fuel cells for use in electric vehicles.

Posted in: Alternative Fuels, Transportation, Automotive, News