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.

Georgia Tech researchers have created a sustainable plastic packaging material, using two ingredients you might not expect in a snack machine: crab shells and tree fibers.
Automated vehicles – fleets of them – may soon change the way we travel through cities. "How soon?" asks a reader.

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

Engineers from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are teaching computers to quickly detect microscopic radiation damage.

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 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...

Blog: Robotics, Automation & Control
Is It Important to Know How a Robot is 'Feeling?'

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

See five of the new products released this week at Sensors Expo 2018.
Jim Batdorf tells Tech Briefs about his unique career path, from chemical engineer to distiller of solar-powered spirits.
Blog: Green Design & Manufacturing
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.
Just because it's computer simulation doesn't mean it's virtual prototyping. Our expert explains.

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...

Researcher Jaana Vapaavuori answered an additional question regarding the future of flexible solar cells.
PhD student Jes Linnet hopes that a silver-based, transparent conductive electrode film offers a longer-lasting alternative for flexible screens and electronics.
Simulation tools offer insight into the physical processes of heavy-duty engines. But what about natural wear and tear?
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.
How does a spider's glue maintain its stickiness, even in high humidity? Researchers in Akron investigated the question.

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

A reader asks: Will it be the OEMs or the Tier-1 and Tier-2 suppliers who will be purchasing 3D metal printing machines?

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

If digital transformation is a boardroom priority, why are companies so slow to transform product development? A reader asks our experts.
A researcher tells Tech Briefs how his team's "symmetrical" sensor approach will support the growing "Internet of Things."
Can metal 3D printing help automakers with more than just prototyping? It can, and it has, says our engineering expert.
Professor Paul Steen helped to create a beetle-inspired adhesive. Now it's about finding applications for it.
Researchers from Purdue University demonstrated that thermoacoustics properties could theoretically occur in solids as well as liquids.

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

A stretchy material, modeled after squid skin, achieves thermal invisibility by reflecting heat.
A new microchip allows sensor nodes to run uninterruptedly, even when the battery runs out.
A “MapLite” framework from MIT allows self-driving cars to navigate roads – with just GPS and sensors as a guide.

Videos