Billy's Blog

On Billy's Blog, Billy Hurley, Digital Editorial Manager, writes stories about new and innovative achievements in design engineering, from industrial robots and autonomous vehicles to 3D printers and see-through solar cells. Along with other Tech Briefs writers and editors, Billy shares his opinions, poses questions to readers, and finds the fun, interesting, and unexpected stories behind today's leading-edge inventions.

Blog: Aerospace
With good shielding and good timing, Mars-bound astronauts are safe from radiation, according to a recent study.
Blog: Aerospace
Professor Francois Barthelat wants to incorporate the fish fin's strong, flexible characteristics into robotic and aerospace designs.
Blog: Propulsion
A team at the University of Tsukuba used a beam of microwave radiation to a launch a drone into the air. Can this type of propulsion take off?
Blog: Energy
Prof. Alanson Sample and his team want to turn entire buildings into wireless charging zones. Learn how their system delivers electricity over the air.
Blog: Robotics, Automation & Control
Robotic floats — 4,000, in fact — are in the ocean, monitoring oxygen levels.
Blog: Software
A new algorithm finds robots the best path across uneven terrain — and the best placement for a robot’s arms and feet.
Blog: Materials
Researchers from the University of Minnesota discovered a way to convert "stubborn" metals like platinum and tungsten into thin films.
Blog: Sensors/Data Acquisition
A new pressure-sensor from MIT detects small and fast changes in pressure at the fingertip, such as from lightly rubbing fingers together.
Blog: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Researchers at North Carolina State University demonstrated a low-cost technique for retrieving — and then reusing — nanowires from electronic devices.
Blog: Software
A team of researchers at USC is helping artificial intelligence imagine the unseen.
Blog: Electronics & Computers

While soft robots hold promise in applications ranging from search-and-rescue efforts to wearable exoskeletons, the technologies are often held back by the electronics, says William Grover,...

Blog: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Learn how a low-cost machine known as the 'Coventor' stacks up to a traditional ventilator.
Blog: RF & Microwave Electronics
A self-driving algorithm guides an autonomous vehicle through a traffic scenario that many of us know well: navigating traffic on a crowded, narrow street.
Blog: Electronics & Computers
A reader asks our expert how to contain a "thermal runaway" explosion in a lithium-ion battery.
Blog: Software
"We could imagine a digital twin of just about any system," says Karen Willcox, director of the Oden Institute.
Blog: Robotics, Automation & Control
UC Berkeley engineers have created a lightweight and durable robot that achieves exquisite control and agility by modulating the electrostatic forces between its feet and surfaces.
Blog: RF & Microwave Electronics
With the help of 12 antennas, Fabio da Silva's m-Widar can spot — and image — objects hidden behind a wall.
Blog: Materials
Could a tool from the dentist's office lead to better recycling of lithium-ion batteries?
Blog: Data Acquisition
A reader asks a Space Force expert about new markets, including data transport, traffic management, and advanced power.
Blog: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering used a Computational Fluid Dynamics model to find ways to decrease cost and increase usage of cooler surfaces.
Blog: Materials
By introducing nanoparticles into ordinary cement, Northwestern University researchers have formed a smarter, more durable, and highly functional building material.
Blog: Data Acquisition
The Prediction Model for Flashover, or P-Flash, estimates where flashover explosions could occur.
Blog: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
The technology uses tactile sensing to identify objects underground.
Blog: Sensors/Data Acquisition
A "self-aware," self-powering material can be used in heart stents, bridges, and even space.
Blog: RF & Microwave Electronics
NC State researchers have made what they believe to be the smallest state-of-the-art RFID chip: a device measuring 125 micrometers (μm) by 245μm.
Blog: Energy
Researchers from CU Boulder gave their optical "rectennas" a ghost-like way to turn wasted heat into power.
Blog: Transportation
A reader asks: "What are the main challenges in simulating powertrain systems? What do we struggle to model now?"
Blog: Manufacturing & Prototyping
A better aerogel features a kind of biological scaffold made from a surprising ingredient found in nature: seaweed.
Blog: Materials
A team from Texas A&M developed a battery that's metal-free and replaces cobalt with organic, recyclable materials.

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