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Using Vision to Enable Robotic Random Bin Picking

The development of a robotic random bin picking system that translates to a real-world factory application has received attention for more than 30 years, and has been called by some the “Search for the Holy Grail.” Random bin picking refers to a system where vision-enabled robots locate, grasp, and move single parts from a bin of jumbled or randomly piled parts. In recent years, advances in processing speed, new algorithms, and significant engineering have combined to solve limited versions of the problem, but the more general problem remained.

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Innovation Begets Innovation

By Robert “Buzz” Kross Senior Vice President of the Manufacturing Division Autodesk San Rafael, CA Innovation is a way of life at Autodesk. Since our introduction of AutoCAD software in 1982, Autodesk has developed the broadest portfolio of state-ofthe- art digital prototyping solutions to help customers experience their ideas before they are built.

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Spherical Sensor Configurations for Three-Dimensional Detecting and Tracking

Spherical Sensor Configurations (SSC) have been designed for detecting and tracking signals in three dimensions. The Spherical Sensor Configurations offer distinct advantages over contemporary imaging systems, significantly enhancing three-dimensional (3D) situational awareness. Sensor systems utilizing a spherical geometry as a foundation (Figure 1) can be designed for a variety of applications.

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2007 Product of the Year and Design Contest Winners Honored

The 2007 NASA Tech Briefs (NTB) and Photonics Tech Briefs (PTB) Readers’ Choice Product of the Year Awards were presented recently by the editors of NTB and PTB at an awards dinner in New York City. The event honored the top three products of 2007 as chosen by each magazine’s readers. Also honored at the event were the winners of the sixth annual Create the Future Design Contest, presented by SolidWorks Corp.

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Performance of 1mm² Silicon Photomultipliers

A silicon photomultiplier (SPM) is a new type of semiconductor detector that has the potential to replace the photomultiplier tube (PMT) detector in many applications. In common with a PMT detector, the output of an SPM is an easily detectable current pulse for each detected photon and can be used in both photon counting mode and as an analogue (photocurrent) detector. However, the SPM also has a distinct advantage over PMT detectors. The photon-induced current pulse from a PMT varies greatly from photon to photon, due to the statistics of the PMT multiplication process (excess noise). In contrast, the current pulse from an SPM is identical from photon to photon. This gives the SPM a distinct advantage in photon counting applications as it allows the associated electronics to be greatly simplified. Identical pulses also mean that the SPM can resolve the number of photons in weak optical pulses, so-called photon number resolution. This is critical in a number of applications including linear-optics quantum computing.

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Touch Screen Technology 101

What makes the iPhone so great? Touch screen technology. Touch screens are changing the way we interact with technology and with iPhone, Apple has opened the floodgates of innovation for the function and design of handheld devices.

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Prototyping PMC Daughterboards

The PMC, or PCI Mezzanine Card, follows the IEEE P1386.1 standard for printed circuit boards. PMCs combine the electrical characteristics of the PCI bus with the mechanical dimensions of the Common Mezzanine Card, or CMC, format. Within the PMC format single PMC boards measure 74mm × 149mm. While the standard also defines a double-sized card, this format is rare. For PMC cards, as defined by the standard, connector configurations can be: 2 bus connectors (P1 and P2) supporting 32-bit PCI signals, 3 bus connectors (P1, P2 and P3) supporting 64 bit PCI signals, and/or 4th bus connector (P4) supporting non-specified I/O signals.

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