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
Farmers in Europe are increasingly turning to robotic weeders. A specialist from University of California, Davis tested out the technologies.
Blog: Energy
A Beverly Hills city official tells Tech Briefs how the city is changing its infrastructure to accommodate a growing number of electric vehicles.
Blog: Electronics & Computers
As electric vehicles take the road, a new kind of EV infrastructure has emerged to power them. A Tech Briefs reader asks our expert about an emerging, “smart” idea: Intelligent Charging.
Blog: Manufacturing & Prototyping
ORNL staff scientist Adam Rondinone explains how his team made the tiny toy.
Blog: Energy
Is the future electric? A reader asks an expert from Mercedes-Benz.
Blog: Aerospace

With another year of Tech Briefs almost in the books, it's time to look at our most-read news articles of 2017.

Top stories included a look back at the life of Robert Goddard, and a look forward to...

Blog: Sensors/Data Acquisition
During the historic Apollo 11 mission, the astronauts, mission control specialists, and back-room support staff did plenty of communicating. The University of Texas at Dallas launched a project to make all of the moon-mission audio accessible.
Blog: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Will Ethics Training be Essential for Tomorrow's Design Engineers?

In our second INSIDER story, Patti Kreh demonstrated that colleges and universities will need to take an "interdisciplinary" approach to train the design engineers of the future.

"What we're seeing is the need for the blending of disciplines – a combination of...

Blog: Software
Simulation allows NASA researchers to better understand and predict the changes that contribute to aircraft noise.
Blog: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Thinking Ahead with 3D Printing: Five Technologies to Watch

A 3D printer's moving parts can lead to vibrations and a flawed final product. Engineers at the University of Michigan anticipated the problem — and now, thanks to their algorithms, machines can do the same.

Blog: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Trick or Treat: Spooky Space Sounds from NASA, and 7 Techs that Creep and Crawl

Getting into the Halloween spirit, NASA released a collection of the spookiest sounds ever recorded by the agency's spacecraft instruments. Captured radio emissions reveal whistling helium, howling planets, and other mysterious noises from the depths of space.

The Road to Lightweight Vehicles

With a steady rise in fuel prices and increasing restrictions on emissions, automakers face difficult challenges as they are forced to find ways of making their cars lighter and more fuel-efficient. One way to achieve this goal is to incorporate strong, lightweight, and durable composite materials to replace...

Good News and Bad News

The bad news: the U.S. Government is shut down.

The good news: the deadline has been extended to enter the Speed2Design Exploration & Discovery contest for a visit to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

In August, I was able to attend the Speed2Design event at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, and...


NASA’s post-Shuttle era has demonstrated that the agency continues to achieve amazing engineering feats – not the least of which is the Mars rover Curiosity, which has met the main goal of its 2-year...


Earlier this year, Mouser Electronics pulled off a marketing/branding coup. They won the Indy 500, arguably the biggest, most famous automobile race in the world.

As an official partner of driver Tony Kanaan’s KV...

Cyber-War – Have I Been Attacked?

Today we are pleased to have a guest blog on embedded device security from Alan Grau, president of Icon Labs.

In July of 2011, Bloomberg Business Week’s cover story was ”Cyber Weapons: The New Arms Race.” Media reports of cyber-attacks by China on military targets and military contractors are...

Laser Eye Beams

As the editor of Photonics Tech Briefs, I cover laser technology for a living. They’re pretty fascinating devices, but that doesn’t mean I ever wanted to have a laser beam shot into my eye. Unfortunately, Father Time and our own bodies do not always give us a choice.

I was recently diagnosed as a prime candidate for...

Explore & Discover with NASA

NASA is one of the top research entities in the world, producing technologies that range from electronics and new materials, to state-of-the-art robotics and sensors. Readers of NASA Tech Briefs get a firsthand look at these new technologies every month. But how many of you have had the chance to go behind the scenes...

On the Floor at SPIE Defense, Security & Sensing

The SPIE Defense Security & Sensing Show in Baltimore, which began on Monday and ends today, provided attendees with an exhibit hall full of new products and technologies. If you weren’t at the show, here’s some of what you missed:

LaserMotive (Kent, WA) had the first public flight...

MIL/Aero Backplanes - SFF vs. OpenVPX

Today we are pleased to have a guest blog on military backplane technology from Justin Moll, vice president of U.S. market development for Pixus Technologies.

3U OpenVPX is the 800 lb gorilla in all types of heavy signal processing Mil/Aero applications for SIGINT, C4ISR applications, etc. that are...

U.S. Manufacturing Needs A Brand Makeover

Today we're pleased to have a guest blog from Eileen Markowitz, president of Thomas Industrial Network.

To engage this new generation of manufacturers, we must restore — and elevate — the perception of manufacturing in America.

When I was growing up, it seemed like everyone believed...


Back in 1975 I was in my final year of engineering school, preparing for what I assumed would be a long and fruitful career solving problems and designing new ones. Meanwhile I was spending most of my free time honing my...

Shock Challenge

If you’re a racing fan who has always thought that, given the opportunity, you could match your technical skills wheel-to-wheel with some of the best engineers in the sport, you’ve got one last chance to make your dream come true.

Mega-distributor Mouser Electronics has been conducting a unique competition this year...


Racing fans who read NASA Tech Briefs already know about a unique contest being run by circuit protection manufacturer Littelfuse called Speed2Design that gives five lucky engineers the chance to win an all-expenses...

Fantasy Camp for Engineers

You’ve no doubt heard about fantasy camps that give ordinary, everyday people the opportunity to step out of their routine 9-to-5 lives and live out their dreams for a few days in the company of those who have done it – and in some cases are still doing it – at the professional level. There are baseball fantasy...

Speed Sells

In my last blog entry, I told you about a unique promotional campaign Littelfuse initiated this year called “Speed2Design” that gives working engineers like you the chance to win the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not just attend one of four IndyCar races, but to go behind the scenes into the pits and garage area, meet the...

The Race Is On!

Most people know me as the editor of high-tech engineering magazines such as Defense Tech Briefs, Embedded Technology, Photonics Tech Briefs, and Lighting Technology. What they don’t know is that for the past 39 years I’ve maintained an exciting part-time career as an auto racing writer and photographer. In that time I’ve...

US Army Corps of Engineers Deploys Complex Math

Today, we're pleased to have a guest blog from Lindsey Christensen, Marketing Project Manager at PTC, which delivers Product Lifecycle Management and design software solutions.

Most people don’t think about the complexity behind the electricity that’s supplied to their home or work. We...

Meet Our Readers: Keeping the Noise Down

Noise barriers are often used to shield sensitive community areas from roadway, railway, and industrial racket. These structures are built based on the careful measurement of noise levels and environmental conditions.

Did you know that there are over 100 miles of barrier in the state of...