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Researchers Urge Changes to Design of Commercial Aircraft Engines

Virginia Tech researchers are urging changes in how commercial aircraft engines are designed in the wake of a possible new threat to passenger aircraft safety: drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, being sucked into turbofan engines at high speeds. Such an impact would be devastating to the engine as its blades are ripped to shreds after “ingesting” the hard-shell center of a drone’s electronics housing.

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Mapping Human Movement to Improve Rehabilitative Robotics

The Biomechatronics Group at MIT is using a data-driven approach to study the mechanics and control of human walking, with the goal of applying the findings to hardware control. PhD student David Hill is developing a model that could be used to improve assistive devices that can help maintain or correct the gait of people recovering from strokes. 

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Nanoclutch Transmits Torque at Small Scales

When driving a car, the clutch mechanically carries the torque produced by the engine to the chassis of the vehicle – a coupling that has long been tested and optimized in such macroscopic machines, giving us highly efficient engines. At microscopic length scales, different physics need to be considered. A model microscopic system consists of a ring of colloidal particles localized in optical tweezers and automatically translated on a circular path, transferring a rotational motion to an assembly of identical colloids confined to the interior region.

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NASA’s Green Propellant Spacecraft Moves Toward Launch

The propulsion subsystem for NASA's Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) has been integrated onto the spacecraft, moving the mission another major step toward scheduled launch in 2016. The propulsion subsystem will be the primary payload on the mission’s spacecraft. The mission will demonstrate the practical capabilities of a hydroxyl ammonium nitrate-based fuel/oxidizer propellant blend developed by the Air Force.

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Researchers Test Robot's 'Light Touch'

Using an air-fluidized bed trackway filled with poppy seeds or glass spheres, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology systematically varied the stiffness of the ground to mimic a variety of surfaces, from hard-packed sand to powdery snow. By studying how running lizards, geckos, crabs, and a robot moved through the varying conditions, the researchers found ideal parameters for appendage design.

Posted in: News, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Embedded Optical Sensors Make Robotic Hands More Dexterous

Researchers have developed a three-fingered soft robotic hand with embedded, stretchable fiber optic strain sensors. By using fiber optics, the researchers were able to embed 14 strain sensors into each of the fingers in the hand, giving it the ability to determine where its fingertips are in contact, and to detect forces of less than a tenth of a newton.

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Wearable Electronic Health Patches Continuously Monitor the Body

A team of researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin has invented a method for producing inexpensive and high-performing wearable patches that can continuously monitor the body’s vital signs for human health and performance tracking.

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