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: Robotics, Automation & Control
A Robot Walks — No Electronics Needed
To move, a new UCSD robot just needs a constant source of pressurized air.
Dr. Axel Krieger from Johns Hopkins University explains how he is getting a robotic system ready for the fight against COVID-19.
Darin Skelly spoke with Tech Briefs about how he felt during the landing of the Perseverance rover, and what he's most looking forward to finding out about Mars.
What can you do with a credit card sized pump? "Power clothing!" Prof. Jonathan Rossiter tells Tech Briefs?
Watch as the Perseverance rover lands on Mars.
Design engineers should be cautious in how they design and deploy mixed-reality technologies, says an industry expert.
Should you replace your big coordinate measurement machine with laser radar? Or should you just add a laser scanner with a CMM? A reader asks our expert.
The hard “coin,” could be used to make super-strength metal coatings or larger industrial components.
The "polymer of squares” could one day enable the use of plastic products many times over.

If you're concerned that electric vehicles don't have the reliability to get you where you need to go, Penn State engineers are working on a battery for...

Inspired by the squid's color-changing chromatophore, Rutgers engineers set out to create an artificial one.
The non-contact method of curing leads to adhesives that can be activated on demand.
In a roundtable presentation at the virtual CES 2021, panelists said the COVID-19 pandemic has changed driving patterns and consumer preferences – and that those shifts are here to stay.
A survey of over 170 experts assessed the opportunities and challenges that drones, robots, and autonomous systems could have for urban nature and green spaces.
Blog: RF & Microwave Electronics
A Better Sensor Detects Ice Build-Up, In Real Time
The sensor is able to detect ice formation far before you can see it occurring on a surface.
Blog: Robotics, Automation & Control
A Spiraling Robotic Gripper 'Twines' Like a Plant

As engineering professor Mable Fok saw how the pole beans in her garden wrapped tightly around any objects nearby, she had an idea:

What if a robotic gripper could do the same...

UW doctoral student Melanie Anderson explains how to make an autonomous 'Smellicopter' to navigate toward smells.
Optical interference filters are critical to the overall performance of machine vision applications. So how do you select the right one?
An Israel-based company called Eviation is working on an all-electric aircraft known as "Alice." Will it match the speeds of a jet?
By jumpstarting electrons, a team at Washington University in St. Louis has developed sensors that can power themselves for more than a year.
The model analyzes three factors that drive infection risk: where people go in the course of a day; how long they linger; and how many other people are visiting the same place at the same time.
A new material is especially effective at absorbing indoor light and converting it into usable energy.
The RepelWrap inventors explain why their product is especially valuable as the world confronts a pandemic like COVID-19.
The great tasks of retrieving samples and flying a helicopter on Mars requires a number of small parts — specifically motors and drives.
The soil microbial fuel cells produce energy to filter enough water for a person’s daily needs, with potential to increase scale.
Purdue University innovators are taking cues from the spider to develop 3D photodetectors for biomedical imaging.
An interactive software being developed at the University of Tokyo allows architects and furniture makers with little experience in woodworking to to design and build structurally sound wood joints.
A reader asks, "For AV testing, what are the respective role of simulation, closed course, and public road testing?"
Blog: Robotics, Automation & Control
A Squid-Like Robot Swims, Untethered
A robot being tested at the University of California San Diego takes after an aquatic invertebrate that has a jet-like way moving through the water: The Squid.

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