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

'Snap' Design Mimics Venus Flytrap

A team led by physicist Christian Santangelo at the University of Massachusetts Amherst uses curved creases to give thin shells a fast, programmable snapping motion. The technique – inspired by the natural "snapping systems" like Venus flytrap leaves and hummingbird beaks – avoids the need for complicated materials and fabrication methods when creating structures with fast dynamics.

Posted in: News, Materials, Joining & Assembly, Mechanical Components
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Depth-Sensing Camera Works in Bright Light and Darkness

A new imaging technology from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Toronto operates in both bright sunlight and darkness. A mathematical model programs the device so that the camera and its light source work together efficiently, eliminating extraneous light, or “noise,” that would otherwise wash out the signals needed to detect a scene’s contours.

Posted in: News, Detectors, Sensors
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Crash Test Helps Improve Emergency Response

NASA’s Langley Research Center hoisted a Cessna 172 aircraft 100 feet into the air by cables and released it. The plane plummeted onto a slab of dirt in a violent but controlled experiment that will help NASA improve aviation emergency response times. The test is part of a push to bolster the reliability of emergency locator transmitters. The systems automatically alert rescue personnel in the event of an airplane crash.

Posted in: News
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Database Could Make Airport Ground Movements Quicker and Greener

Growth in air traffic and passenger numbers has led to warnings that airports could become bottlenecks in the global air transportation system. Ensuring efficient movement of aircraft on the ground is a key way for airport stakeholders to save time, reduce costs, and improve carbon emissions. Aviation engineering specialists have created an innovative system for airport ground movement to generate the most efficient routes and optimal speed instructions – or speed profiles – for pilots to follow during taxiing.

Posted in: News
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Thin Ribbon of Flexible Electronics Monitors Aircraft Health

A hybrid technology mixes traditional electronics with flexible, high-performance electronics and new 3D printing technologies. The system takes a razor-thin silicon integrated circuit and places it on a flexible, bendable, or even foldable plastic-like material. The circuitry can fit into extremely tight spaces, and even can be integrated into complex curved surfaces such as an airplane’s wing.

Posted in: News
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Robotic System Builds Biggest Composite Rocket Parts Ever Made

One of the largest composites manufacturing robots created in America will help NASA build the biggest lightweight composite parts ever made for space vehicles. The robot will build structures larger than 26 feet in diameter. The robot travelled across the country from Electroimpact, Inc. in Mukilteo, WA. Electroimpact engineers worked with NASA Marshall engineers to customize the robot and supporting software for building large space structures.

Posted in: News
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Researchers Help NASA Eliminate Vibration in Space System Joints

Researchers at the University of Georgia are helping NASA determine if a key rocket component can withstand the rigors of the next generation of spaceflight. The bellows expansion joints serve several functions in rocket propulsion systems, perhaps most critically as connectors between fuel and oxidizer lines and the rocket's engines. NASA wants to make sure a flow-induced vibration phenomenon in the joints doesn't pose a risk for its new Space Launch System.

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3D Projection Improves Robot-to-Human Communication

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a way for robots to project their next action into the 3D world and onto any moving object, such as car parts on an assembly line. The achievement will help to improve human and robot safety in manufacturing scenarios.

Posted in: News, Automation, Robotics
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Smart Building Responds to all Climate Conditions

A grid of sensors embedded into an innovative building insulation activates specific façade components to optimize energy savings while improving aesthetics. This high-tech kind of retrofitting approach uses several types of modules that allow real-time monitoring. The multifunctional modular façade system is able to adapt to a variety of climatic conditions.

Posted in: News
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Vibration Table Promises Different Ways of Testing

Vibration machines are crucial to test the forces that make things fall apart in the bumpy real world, from small components to complete systems like airplanes or nuclear weapons. Large, high-frequency vibration machines that shake things in several directions simultaneously are relatively new. Sandia National Laboratories has developed a large, high-frequency, 6-degrees-of-freedom (6DOF) vibration machine to qualify weapons components and revolutionize the way it does mechanical testing.

Posted in: News
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