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NASA Decelerators Slow Payloads Traveling at Supersonic Speed

What will it take to land heavier spacecraft on Mars? How will engineers slow large payloads traveling at supersonic speeds in a thin Martian atmosphere? The Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) mission will seek to answer these questions.

Posted in: Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Power Transmission, Test & Measurement, Aerospace, Machinery & Automation, News

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New Strain Gauge Enables 'Soft Machines'

Purdue University researchers have developed a technique to embed a liquid-alloy pattern inside a rubber-like polymer to form a network of sensors. The approach may be used to produce "soft machines" made of elastic materials and liquid metals.Such an elastic technology could be used to create robots with sensory skin, as well as develop stretchable garments that interact with computers."What's exciting about the soft strain gauge is that it can detect very high strains and can deform with almost any material," said Rebecca Kramer, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University. "The skin around your joints undergoes about 50 percent strain when you bend a limb, so if you wanted to have sensory skin and wearable technology that tracks your movement you need to employ soft, stretchable materials that won't restrict your natural range of motion."SourceAlso: Learn about Thermal Properties of Microstrain Gauges.

Posted in: Materials, Metals, Plastics, Motion Control, Sensors, Machinery & Automation, Robotics, News

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New Algorithms Enable Self-Assembling, Printable Robots

In two new papers, MIT researchers demonstrate the promise of printable robotic components that, when heated, automatically fold into prescribed three-dimensional configurations.One paper describes a system that takes a digital specification of a 3-D shape — such as a computer-aided design, or CAD, file — and generates the 2-D patterns that would enable a piece of plastic to reproduce it through self-folding.The other paper explains how to build electrical components from self-folding laser-cut materials. The researchers present designs for resistors, inductors, and capacitors, as well as sensors and actuators — the electromechanical “muscles” that enable robots’ movements.“We have this big dream of the hardware compiler, where you can specify, ‘I want a robot that will play with my cat,’ or ‘I want a robot that will clean the floor,’ and from this high-level specification, you actually generate a working device,” said Daniela Rus, the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT.SourceAlso: Learn about Self-Assembling, Flexible, Pre-Ceramic Composite Preforms.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Electronic Components, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Power Transmission, Sensors, Software, Computer-Aided Design (CAD), Mathematical/Scientific Software, Machinery & Automation, Robotics, News

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Wind Tunnel Tests Support Improved Design of B61-12 Bomb

Sandia National Laboratories has finished testing a full-scale mock unit representing the aerodynamic characteristics of the B61-12 gravity bomb in a wind tunnel. The tests on the mock-up were done to establish the configuration that will deliver the necessary spin motion of the bomb during freefall and are an important milestone in the Life Extension Program to deliver a new version of the aging system.

Posted in: Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Test & Measurement, Aerospace, Defense, News

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Aircraft Engine Coating Could Triple Service Life and Save Fuel

Researchers at University West in Sweden are using nanoparticles in the heat-insulating surface layer that protects aircraft engines from heat. In tests, this increased the service life of the coating by 300%. The hope is that motors with the new layers will be in production within two years. The surface layer is sprayed on top of the metal components. Thanks to this extra layer, the engine is shielded from heat. The temperature can also be raised, which leads to increased efficiency, reduced emissions, and decreased fuel consumption.

Posted in: Materials, Ceramics, Coatings & Adhesives, Motion Control, Power Transmission, Energy Efficiency, Energy, Aerospace, Aviation, Nanotechnology, News

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Engineers Develop 'Simple' Robotic Swarms

University of Sheffield engineers have developed a way of making hundreds — or even thousands — of tiny robots cluster to carry out tasks. The robots do not require memory or processing power. Each robot uses just one sensor that indicates the presence of another nearby robot. Based on the sensor's findings, the robots will either rotate on the spot, or move around in a circle until one can be seen.Until now, robotic swarms have required complex programming, complicating the development of miniaturized, individual robots. With the programming created by the Sheffield team, however, nanoscale machines are possible.SourceAlso: Learn about a Kinematic Calibration Process for Flight Robotic Arms.

Posted in: Motion Control, Sensors, Machinery & Automation, Robotics, News

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Mini Science Lab Detects Multiple Bio Agents

It can cost hundreds of dollars and days to scan biological materials for important biomarkers that signal diseases such as diabetes or cancer using industry standard equipment. Researchers face enormous time constraints and financial hurdles from having to run these analyses on a regular basis. A Northeastern University professor has developed a single instrument that can do multiple scans at a fraction of the time and cost. That's because it uses considerably less material and ultra-sensitive detection methods to do the same thing. ScanDrop is a portable instrument no bigger than a shoebox that has the capacity to detect a variety of biological specimen. For that reason it will benefit a wide range of users beyond the medical community, including environmental monitoring and basic scientific research. The instrument acts as a miniature science lab, of sorts. It contains a tiny chip, made of polymer or glass, connected to equally tiny tubes. An extremely small-volume liquid sample — whether it's water or a biological fluid such as serum — flows in one of those tubes, through the lab-on-a-chip device, and out the other side. While inside, the sample is exposed to a slug of microscopic beads functionalized to react with the lab test's search parameters. The beads fluoresce when the specific marker or cell in question has been detected; from there, an analysis by ScanDrop can provide the concentration levels of that marker or cell. Because the volumes being tested with ScanDrop are so small, the testing time dwindles to just minutes. This means you could get near-real time measures of a changing sample — be it bacteria levels in a flowing body of water or dynamic insulin levels in the bloodstream of a person with diabetes. Source

Posted in: Environmental Monitoring, Green Design & Manufacturing, Motion Control, Fluid Handling, Sensors, Detectors, Medical, Diagnostics, Test & Measurement, Measuring Instruments, News

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