Question of the Week

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Will 'Biomorphic' Batteries Support a Future of Tiny Robots?

A Tech Briefs TV video highlighted a rechargeable zinc battery from the University of Michigan that integrates into the structure of a robot to provide much more energy. The “biomorphic” battery, according to researchers, could provide 72x more energy for robots.

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Are You OK With a Robot Taking Your Vitals?

The "Spot" robot, developed by Boston Dynamics, can measure skin temperature, breathing rate, pulse rate, and blood oxygen saturation in healthy patients, from a distance of 2 meters.

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Will Sound Support Valuable Robotics Tasks?

Our lead story today demonstrated how Carnegie Mellon researchers are building a dataset of sounds to help robots detect specific objects.

Question of the Week: Aerospace
Will Rovers Find Life Below the Surface of Mars?

Our lead story today highlighted a hypothesis from astrophysicist Dimitra Atri. Atri believes that the sub-surface conditions of Mars could be home to organic molecules.

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Will SpaceBok Someday Reach the Moon?

Our lead story today highlights the jumping space robot known as SpaceBok.

“We are at the stage where we want to go into more challenging environments: caves, craters, highlands, areas in which we would find water or other volatiles, or information about the geological history of a certain...

Question of the Week: Imaging
Do the Advantages of Tiny Cameras Outweigh Privacy Risks?

A recent Tech Briefs TV video showcased a wireless camera from the University of Washington – a device that is small enough to fit on an insect’s back, literally.

While the imaging advancement offers potential applications in biology and exploration, the UW team acknowledged...

Question of the Week: Aerospace
Will Electric Aircraft Take-Off in Everyday Aviation?

In May of 2020, the “eCaravan” aircraft, powered by a 750-horsepower electric motor and more than 2000 pounds of lithium-ion batteries, flew to a height of over 2500 feet, at over 100 miles per hour. The all-electric airplane was built by magniX, Seattle-based electric propulsion...

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Will ‘Roboats’ Catch On?

Our July issue of Tech Briefs highlighted a fleet of “roboats” that could someday transport people, collect trash, and self-assemble into floating structures.

The Roboat autonomous robotic boats — rectangular hulls equipped with sensors, thrusters, microcontrollers, GPS modules, cameras, and other...

Question of the Week: Materials
Will Morphing Wings Take Off?

Our lead INSIDER story today showcased a morphing MADCAT aircraft wing.

“From a first glance, it literally doesn’t look like anything that anyone’s ever seen before,” said MIT researcher Ben Jennet in our Here's an Idea episode.

How about you? Will Morphing Wings Take Off?

Question of the Week
Can Camera Systems Replace the Wall-Mounted Thermostat?

Our lead INSIDER story today showcased an autonomous 'HEAT' camera system that uses facial temperatures to determine a room's optimum temperature.

What do you think? Can Camera Systems Replace the Wall-Mounted Thermostat?

Share your questions and comments.

Question of the Week: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Do You See Yourself Someday Printing in 4D?

You’ve heard about 3D printing, but what about 4D?

A Tech Briefs TV video this week showcased how Rice University researchers’ new way of making shape-shifting materials. The “4D-printed” objects can be manipulated to take on alternate forms when exposed to changes in temperature,...

Question of the Week: Energy
Will We Ever See Humidity Panels Alongside Solar Panels?

Our lead INSIDER story featured an experiment from Tel Aviv University that supports the idea of water vapor as an alternative energy source.

What do you think? Will We Ever See Humidity Panels Alongside Solar Panels?

Share your questions and comments.

Question of the Week: Transportation
Will On-Demand Octane Improve Fuel Economy?

A video on Tech Briefs TV this month demonstrated a Pacific Northwest National Laboratory technology that enables on-demand octane by portioning ethanol from gasoline. PNNL researchers believe their invention could increase fuel economy and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Do you agree? Watch the video...

Question of the Week: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Will More Manufacturers Go With Metal 3D Printing?

Our most recent issue of Tech Briefs featured a roundtable discussion about the future of 3D printing. The industry pros, including Stratsys Direct Manufacturing CEO Kent Firestone, spoke about how metal additive manufacturing has yet to catch on, due to cost constraints and build limitations....

Question of the Week: Materials
How Would You Use Gecko-Inspired Adhesion?

A team at Georgia Tech has discovered a Velcro-like way of mass-producing gecko-inspired adhesives. Principal investigator Prof. Michael Varenberg believes his team’s technology can someday be used on pick-and-place industrial machines, wall-scaling cleaners, and even small repair robots that travel...

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Will Soft Robots Reach Cheetah-Like Speeds?

Our lead INSIDER story today featured a proof-of-concept robot that moves at almost 3 body lengths a second.

Question of the Week: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Will ‘Flexoskeletons’ Catch On?

Engineers at the University of California San Diego have found a new way to make soft, flexible, 3D-printed robots. The “flexoskeletons” are both made of a rigid material and a thin sheet of polycarbonate that acts as a flexible base. Watch the demo on Tech Briefs TV.

What do you think? Will...

Question of the Week: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Will Biosensors Be Used Effectively in Crowded Environments?

A team used to making pollutant-detection systems is adapting their technologies to spot coronavirus.

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Will 'Metal-Air Scavengers' Power Vehicles and Robots?

Penn Engineering researchers have introduced a "metal-air scavenger" vehicle, which gets energy not from a battery, but from breaking chemical bonds in the aluminum surface it travels over. The technology, which works like both a battery and an energy harvester, has 13 times more energy...

Question of the Week: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Can Solar-Powered Desalination Solve Water-Scarcity Challenges?

“Seawater is a very abundant resource for clean water, but the problem is how to desalinate it,” MIT researcher Lenan Zhang told Tech Briefs in our April issue.

Question of the Week: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Have You Cloud-Connected Your Equipment and Processes on the Shop Floor?

Our April Motion Design feature article highlights how manufacturers are reimagining robotics in a connected world, employing processes like real-time analytics, predictive maintenance, online support and diagnostics, and cloud backups.

Question of the Week: Automotive
Is Anonymization the Best Way to Protect Personal Data?

A Tech Briefs reader recently asked our industry expert:

Question of the Week: Wearables
Would You Use the Pedestrian Audio Wearable System (PAWS)?

Our “5Ws” article in the March issue of Tech Briefs highlights a wearable developed at Columbia University called “PAWS.” The Pedestrian Audio Wearable System detects and locates approaching cars. PAWS then warns the pedestrian in real-time by providing audio/visual feedback via...

Question of the Week: Test & Measurement
Would You Use a CurveBoard?

MIT researchers have invented a way to integrate “breadboards” — flat platforms widely used for electronics prototyping — directly onto physical products.

Question of the Week: Aerospace
What Name Would You Give the Next Mars Rover?

In a live event from Lake Braddock Secondary School (LBSS) in Burke, Virginia on Thursday, NASA professionals announced that the Mars 2020 rover will be called “Perseverance.”

Question of the Week: Energy
Will We Ever Recharge Electric Batteries As Quickly As We Get Gas?

Stanford University researchers have developed a machine learning-based method that cuts battery testing times by 98 percent. The team says that their A.I. technique could lead to a future where an electric battery is recharged in the time it takes to stop at a gas station. Watch...

Question of the Week: Energy
Will Rain Become a Viable Energy Source?

Our lead INSIDER story today demonstrated the power of a droplet energy generator – specifically the system’s ability to light up 100 LEDs with just a small amount of water.

Question of the Week: Energy
Will Cooling Coatings Catch On?

This month’s Tech Briefs featured a potential alternative to the air conditioner: A painted-on polymer coating that can cool down a building.

Question of the Week: Connectivity
Do the 5G Benefits Outweigh the Risks?

A feature article in this month’s Tech Briefs explored how the fifth-generation mobile network known as 5G will support the creation of increasingly “smart” factories – ones that allow manufacturers to further improve factory automation, human/machine interfaces, and mobility.

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