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.

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.
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.
Blog: Photonics/Optics
How to Choose an Optical Filter
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.
Blog: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Woodworking, Simplified: New Software Aids in Design
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.

University of Central Florida researchers are developing a human-like way for large machines to cool off and keep from overheating: Letting the machines "breathe."

Researcher Nina Mahmoudian is finding a new way for underwater robots to recharge and upload their data, and then go back out to continue exploring, without the need for human intervention.
A reader asks, "Will the public feel safe enough in an autonomous vehicle?"
Vanderbilt University engineers are proving that their elastic exosuit can provide relief for people doing the heavy lifting.
Thermal cameras detect heat radiation and can be used to identify the surface temperature of objects and people. So what's their limit, asks a reader.
A new composite from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) increases the electrical current capacity of copper wires, providing a new material that can be scaled for use in ultra-efficient, power-dense electric vehicle traction motors.
New software from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) wants to predict all traffic possibilities, so that self-driving vehicles will never get into accidents.
As Brazil begins mass-producing a NASA-developed ventilator, a Tech Briefs reader asks why NASA didn't go open-source.
The new approach could help pave the way for smaller battery packs and greater driving range in electric vehicles.
A reader asks our expert: When it comes to autonomous vehicles, what’s best: Radar, LiDAR, or cameras?

Webcasts

Upcoming Webinars: Automotive

Electric-Vehicle Transmission Development Priorities

Upcoming Webinars: Medical

The Critical Role of Fiber Optic Temperature Sensors in Medical...

Upcoming Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Zinc Die Casting Concepts to Achieve Precision, Performance, and...

Upcoming Webinars: Test & Measurement

Radar Measurements: Triggering, Analysis, and Generation

Upcoming Webinars: Materials

Designing with Silicone for Space

Upcoming Webinars: Sensors/Data Acquisition

Developing Standards for Odor Sensors and Data

Videos