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 : Transportation
How Soon Will Autonomous Vehicle Fleets Take the Streets?
How Soon Will Autonomous Vehicle Fleets Take the Streets?
Automated vehicles – fleets of them – may soon change the way we travel through cities. "How soon?" asks a reader.
How Soon Will Autonomous Vehicle Fleets Take the Streets?
Blog : Energy
Scientists Find Right Combination for a Better Flow Battery
Scientists Find Right Combination for a Better Flow Battery

By introducing some new ingredients to the flow battery, Stanford University scientists are advancing a new way to store wind and solar electricity.

Scientists Find Right Combination for a Better Flow Battery
Blog : Test & Measurement
Engineers Teach Computers to Detect Radiation Damage
Engineers Teach Computers to Detect Radiation Damage
Engineers from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are teaching computers to quickly detect microscopic radiation damage.
Engineers Teach Computers to Detect Radiation Damage
Blog : Robotics, Automation & Control
Researchers Ready Cell-Sized Robots for Inspection Tasks
Researchers Ready Cell-Sized Robots for Inspection Tasks

Researchers at MIT have created cell-sized robots that may someday be used to inspect and analyze hard-to-reach locations, from oil pipelines to the human body.

Researchers Ready Cell-Sized Robots for Inspection Tasks
Blog : Sensors/Data Acquisition
How Would You Use An Electronic Circuit Sensor Sticker?
How Would You Use An Electronic Circuit Sensor Sticker?

Researchers at Purdue University and the University of Virginia have designed peelable electronic films that can be cut and pasted onto any object, offering new sensing capabilities to...

How Would You Use An Electronic Circuit Sensor Sticker?
Blog : Materials
Is It Important to Know How a Robot is 'Feeling?'
Is It Important to Know How a Robot is 'Feeling?'

Talking about your feelings can be difficult. Now imagine if you’re a robot.

Is It Important to Know How a Robot is 'Feeling?'
Blog : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
New Products at Sensors Expo 2018: IMUs, Microcontrollers, Transducers, and More
New Products at Sensors Expo 2018: IMUs, Microcontrollers, Transducers, and More
See five of the new products released this week at Sensors Expo 2018.
New Products at Sensors Expo 2018: IMUs, Microcontrollers, Transducers, and More
Blog : Energy
From Chemical Engineer to Solar-Powered Whiskey and Beer: Meet Jim Batdorf, Chief Distiller
From Chemical Engineer to Solar-Powered Whiskey and Beer: Meet Jim Batdorf, Chief Distiller
Jim Batdorf tells Tech Briefs about his unique career path, from chemical engineer to distiller of solar-powered spirits.
From Chemical Engineer to Solar-Powered Whiskey and Beer: Meet Jim Batdorf, Chief Distiller
Blog : Materials
A ‘Green’ Concrete Calls for Less Cement, More Ash
A ‘Green’ Concrete Calls for Less Cement, More Ash
Researchers from Rice University are finding ways to use greater amounts of fly ash in an effort to build a “greener” kind of concrete.
A ‘Green’ Concrete Calls for Less Cement, More Ash
Blog : Software
Answering Your Questions: What is Virtual Prototyping (for Optics)?
Answering Your Questions: What is Virtual Prototyping (for Optics)?
Just because it's computer simulation doesn't mean it's virtual prototyping. Our expert explains.
Answering Your Questions: What is Virtual Prototyping (for Optics)?
News : Data Acquisition
To Communicate, Researchers Test the Power of Touch
To Communicate, Researchers Test the Power of Touch

Could touch be the new avenue for communications? Researchers from MIT and Purdue University think so and are working on a “general-purpose” tactile system that delivers information...

To Communicate, Researchers Test the Power of Touch
Blog : Energy
Following Up: What is the Future of Flexible Solar Cells?
Following Up: What is the Future of Flexible Solar Cells?
Researcher Jaana Vapaavuori answered an additional question regarding the future of flexible solar cells.
Following Up: What is the Future of Flexible Solar Cells?
Blog : Imaging
With a Conductive Thin Film, Researchers Test a Silver Screen
With a Conductive Thin Film, Researchers Test a Silver Screen
PhD student Jes Linnet hopes that a silver-based, transparent conductive electrode film offers a longer-lasting alternative for flexible screens and electronics.
With a Conductive Thin Film, Researchers Test a Silver Screen
Blog : Propulsion
Answering Your Questions: Can CFD Software Simulate 'Wear and Tear' on an Engine?
Answering Your Questions: Can CFD Software Simulate 'Wear and Tear' on an Engine?
Simulation tools offer insight into the physical processes of heavy-duty engines. But what about natural wear and tear?
Answering Your Questions: Can CFD Software Simulate 'Wear and Tear' on an Engine?
Blog : Electronics & Computers
Will Flexible Solar Cells Soon Power Our Devices?
Will Flexible Solar Cells Soon Power Our Devices?
Professor Jaana Vapaavuori spoke with Tech Briefs about the manufacturing methods that could someday decrease the cost and increase the lifetime of flexible solar cells.
Will Flexible Solar Cells Soon Power Our Devices?
Blog : Materials
Studying the Secrets Behind Spider Glue
Studying the Secrets Behind Spider Glue
How does a spider's glue maintain its stickiness, even in high humidity? Researchers in Akron investigated the question.
Studying the Secrets Behind Spider Glue
Blog : Manufacturing & Prototyping
FLAM! Researchers Test Cellulose as Sustainable 3D-Printing Material
FLAM! Researchers Test Cellulose as Sustainable 3D-Printing Material

Researchers from Singapore University of Technology and Design have demonstrated 3D printing with one of the Earth’s most abundant organic compounds: cellulose.

FLAM! Researchers Test Cellulose as Sustainable 3D-Printing Material
Blog : Transportation
Answering Your Questions: Who Will Integrate 3D Metal Printing — Tiers or OEMs?
Answering Your Questions: Who Will Integrate 3D Metal Printing — Tiers or OEMs?
A reader asks: Will it be the OEMs or the Tier-1 and Tier-2 suppliers who will be purchasing 3D metal printing machines?
Answering Your Questions: Who Will Integrate 3D Metal Printing — Tiers or OEMs?
Blog : Electronics & Computers
How to Harness Humidity: Hydrogel Keeps Rooms Cool, Powers Small Devices
How to Harness Humidity: Hydrogel Keeps Rooms Cool, Powers Small Devices

There is plenty of moisture in the air — Professor Swee Ching Tan wants to harvest the humidity and put it to good use.

How to Harness Humidity: Hydrogel Keeps Rooms Cool, Powers Small Devices
Blog : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Answering Your Questions: Why Are Companies Holding Back on 'Digital' Product Development?
Answering Your Questions: Why Are Companies Holding Back on 'Digital' Product Development?
If digital transformation is a boardroom priority, why are companies so slow to transform product development? A reader asks our experts.
Answering Your Questions: Why Are Companies Holding Back on 'Digital' Product Development?
Blog : Communications
A ‘Symmetrical’ Approach Improves Wireless Microsensors
A ‘Symmetrical’ Approach Improves Wireless Microsensors
A researcher tells Tech Briefs how his team's "symmetrical" sensor approach will support the growing "Internet of Things."
A ‘Symmetrical’ Approach Improves Wireless Microsensors
Blog : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Answering Your Questions: Beyond Prototyping, How is 3D Metal Printing Being Used in the Automotive Industry?
Answering Your Questions: Beyond Prototyping, How is 3D Metal Printing Being Used in the Automotive Industry?
Can metal 3D printing help automakers with more than just prototyping? It can, and it has, says our engineering expert.
Answering Your Questions: Beyond Prototyping, How is 3D Metal Printing Being Used in the Automotive Industry?
Blog : Materials
Wanted: Uses for a Beetle-Inspired 'Spider-Man' Adhesive
Wanted: Uses for a Beetle-Inspired 'Spider-Man' Adhesive
Professor Paul Steen helped to create a beetle-inspired adhesive. Now it's about finding applications for it.
Wanted: Uses for a Beetle-Inspired 'Spider-Man' Adhesive
Blog : Energy
A 'Solid' Idea for Powering Spacecraft: Thermoacoustics
A 'Solid' Idea for Powering Spacecraft: Thermoacoustics
Researchers from Purdue University demonstrated that thermoacoustics properties could theoretically occur in solids as well as liquids.
A 'Solid' Idea for Powering Spacecraft: Thermoacoustics
Blog : Sensors/Data Acquisition
‘FingerPing’ Recognizes Micro Motions, Soundly
‘FingerPing’ Recognizes Micro Motions, Soundly

A new system from the Georgia Institute of Technology has a sound approach to recognizing tiny gestures of the hand.

‘FingerPing’ Recognizes Micro Motions, Soundly
Blog : Materials
‘Invisibility’ Material Offers Thermal Camouflage
‘Invisibility’ Material Offers Thermal Camouflage
A stretchy material, modeled after squid skin, achieves thermal invisibility by reflecting heat.
‘Invisibility’ Material Offers Thermal Camouflage
Blog : Sensors/Data Acquisition
When the Battery Runs Out, the ‘BATLESS’ Microchip Keeps Going
When the Battery Runs Out, the ‘BATLESS’ Microchip Keeps Going
A new microchip allows sensor nodes to run uninterruptedly, even when the battery runs out.
When the Battery Runs Out, the ‘BATLESS’ Microchip Keeps Going
Blog : Sensors/Data Acquisition
No Map Needed: ‘MapLite’ Sends Self-Driving Cars Off the Beaten Path
No Map Needed: ‘MapLite’ Sends Self-Driving Cars Off the Beaten Path
A “MapLite” framework from MIT allows self-driving cars to navigate roads – with just GPS and sensors as a guide.
No Map Needed: ‘MapLite’ Sends Self-Driving Cars Off the Beaten Path
Blog : Green Design & Manufacturing
A New Approach to Solar-Powered Water Purification: Stay Cool
A New Approach to Solar-Powered Water Purification: Stay Cool
Researchers at the University of Buffalo have found a counter-intuitive way of improving the water-purification process: keeping things cool.
A New Approach to Solar-Powered Water Purification: Stay Cool
Blog : Transportation
Answering Your Questions: Will Reducing Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) Lead to Increased Particulate?
Answering Your Questions: Will Reducing Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) Lead to Increased Particulate?
Does less nitrogen oxide mean more particulate emissions? A reader asks our expert.
Answering Your Questions: Will Reducing Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) Lead to Increased Particulate?