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.

NASA's Lindley Johnson explains how the exciting business of asteroid detection does have its moments that are “like any other office job.”
A reader asks: "Why do organizations struggle to see 3D printing or additive manufacturing for more than prototyping? "
Researchers discovered that an on-and-off kind of thermal regulation is possible if you look to the squid.
A NASA researcher spoke with Tech Briefs about the importance of the Curiosity rover's latest find on Mars.
A readers asks two 3D-printing veterans: "What is your advice to someone starting out with additive manufacturing?"
A new approach to structural coloration is more freeform than you might expect.
Blog: Manufacturing & Prototyping
How to Evaluate a Vision System Integrator
Many manufacturers are relying on vision system integrators to implement machine vision. Our expert tells a reader how to find the right one for you.
For social robots to become commonplace in clinical settings, engineers will need to build both technology improvements as well something slightly more complicated: Trust.
Researcher Nikhil Gupta tells Tech Briefs why "exploding" a QR code inside a 3D-printed part makes counterfeiting practically impossible.
A reader asks our expert: As autonomous vehicles enter the market, where are the weak spots in simulation?

Simulation is a helpful go-to tool for assessing risk, but what if the event being simulated is an avalanche – a complex event with countless parameters and physical...

Blog: Robotics, Automation & Control
How to Power Robots with Popcorn

Cornell researchers have discovered a novel – and delicious – way to power simple robots: Popcorn.

Instead of attaching semiconductors to fabric, an MIT team has found a way to add the technology right into the fiber themselves.
A reader asks: “If autonomous vehicles are too expensive for an individual to own, how is the cost per mile so low to hail one?”
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.
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?

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