Mechanical/​Mechatronics

Stay updated on advancements in mechanical components and mechatronics systems. New technologies in MEMs, fluid systems, and propulsion are driving breakthroughs in transportation, electrification, autonomous driving, and manufacturing.

News : Electronics & Computers
Aircraft with Hybrid Engine Can Recharge in Flight

Researchers from the University of Cambridge, in association with Boeing, have successfully tested the first aircraft to be powered by a parallel hybrid-electric propulsion system, where an electric motor and gas engine work together to drive the propeller. The demonstrator aircraft uses up to...

Articles : Aerospace
Variable-Sweep-Wing Aircraft Configuration

Efficient aircraft designs are increasingly desired in order to support the continued growth of the air transportation industry. Continued expansion of this vital mode of transportation is threatened due to concerns over ever-increasing emissions, noise, and the demand for fuel. Current airport runway,...

News : Propulsion
Two-Stroke Engine Features Low Consumption and Fewer Emissions
Two-Stroke Engine Features Low Consumption and Fewer Emissions

Researchers have developed a new two-stroke engine notable for its low consumption and low level of pollutant emissions. The engine is the result of Powerful, a European project...

Two-Stroke Engine Features Low Consumption and Fewer Emissions
News : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
NASA Advances Next-Generation 3D-Imaging Lidar

Building, fixing, and refueling space-based assets or rendezvousing with a comet or asteroid will require a robotic vehicle and a super-precise, high-resolution 3D imaging lidar that will generate real-time images needed to guide the vehicle to a target traveling at thousands of miles per hour. A...

Articles : Motion Control
NASA's Hot 100 Technologies: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

This flexible joint provides two degrees of freedom and a tremendous amount of compliance. The overstrain sensor joint has a passive and restoring force that allows the joint to return to a default position, and is also proportional to the amount of lateral deflection the spring has...

Application Briefs : Test & Measurement
Reverse Engineering Helps NASA Analyze Icing Conditions
ROMER Absolute Arm with integrated laser scanner
Hexagon Metrology
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While air travel is considered the safest form of transportation, research continues to better understand ice buildup and its affects...

News : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
NASA Tests Revolutionary Shape-Changing Aircraft Flap

NASA's green aviation project is one step closer to developing technology that could make future airliners quieter and more fuel‑efficient with the successful flight test of a wing surface that can change shape in flight. Researchers replaced an airplane’s conventional aluminum flaps with...

News : Aerospace
Supersonic Laser-Propelled Rockets Could Help Aircraft Exceed Mach 10

A new method for improving the thrust generated by laser-propulsion systems may bring them one step closer to practical use. The method, developed by physicists Yuri Rezunkov of the Institute of Optoelectronic Instrument Engineering, Russia, and Alexander Schmidt of the Ioffe...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Hydraulic High-Pressure Valve Controller Using the In Situ Pressure Difference

Various applications exist where high-pressure valves are required, but the problem for control of such valves lies in that they have to move against a strong pressure differential that may require significant force, energy, and large actuators. The solution to this...

Briefs : Information Technology
Titan Lake and Shore Sampler

A lake and shore sampling and sample distribution system was developed for a Titan lake environment (93.7 K, in liquid hydrocarbons). The Titan Lake and Shore Sampler (TLASS) would enable the chemical analysis of hydrocarbon lake samples via a Dual Rectilinear Ion and Orbitrap Mass Spectrometer and Nuclear Magnetic...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Safely Testing Parachute-Based Extraction Systems

This invention relates to the safe, reliable, and repeatable testing under external load of the Extraction Force Transfer Coupling (EFTC) currently used in the extraction of airdrop platforms from both the C-17 and C-130 cargo transport aircraft. The invention enables functional testing of the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Hybrid Gear

Reducing stiffness-induced gear noise and making lighter-weight gearing components would be a substantial advantage over the current all-metallic configuration. The use of composites to join metallic hubs to the metallic gear rim would reduce manufacturing costs of large aerospace gears, with weight reductions and modified...

Articles : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Cabin Pressure Monitors Notify Pilots to Save Lives

NASA Technology

Typical cruising altitudes for business and commercial aircraft are up to 50,000 feet or more. At such altitudes, the oxygen concentrations in the air are much lower than on the ground. Occupants could not survive in this environment without pressure inside the aircraft...

News : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Pulley Mechanism Improves Hand Function After Surgery

Engineers at Oregon State University have developed and successfully demonstrated a simple pulley mechanism to improve hand function after surgery. The device is one of the first instruments ever created that could improve the transmission of mechanical forces and movement while implanted...

News : Transportation
2-in-1 Motor Increases Range of Electric Cars
2-in-1 Motor Increases Range of Electric Cars

Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and German Aerospace Centre (DLR) have invented a 2-in-1 electric motor that increases the range of electric vehicles. The engine integrates...

2-in-1 Motor Increases Range of Electric Cars
News : Semiconductors & ICs
3D-Printed Power Inverter Enables Lighter Electric Vehicles

Using 3D printing and novel semiconductors, researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have created a power inverter that could make electric vehicles lighter, more powerful, and more efficient.

At the core of this development is wide bandgap material...

News : Transportation
Fast-Charging Batteries Have 20-Year Lifespan

Scientists at Nanyang Technology University (NTU) have developed ultra-fast charging batteries that can be recharged up to 70 percent in only two minutes.

The new-generation batteries also have a long lifespan of over 20 years, more than 10 times compared to existing lithium-ion batteries.

In...

News : Robotics, Automation & Control
Underwater Robot Skims for Port Security

MIT researchers unveiled an oval-shaped submersible robot, a little smaller than a football, with a flattened panel on one side that it can slide along an underwater surface to perform ultrasound scans.

Originally designed to look for cracks in nuclear reactors’ water tanks, the robot could also...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Hovercraft Landing System

A concept for recovering reusable spacecraft or capsules, or reusable rocket boosters, has them land on an airbag-based, cushioned platform positioned on a highly maneuverable hovercraft. This landing method would have performance advantages over conventional approaches to reusability by placing most of the landing...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Method for Improved Gun-Drilled Cold Plate Fabrication and Inspection

A method was developed for obtaining proper fluid distribution through parallel gun-drilled passages and for being able to inspect the actual drilled passages to guarantee that the designed minimum wall thickness is not violated. This invention uses one feature that addresses...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Novel Catalytic Reactor System for CO2 Reduction via Sabatier Process

A novel, short-contact-time Microlith Sabatier reactor system for CO2 reduction offers a significant advance in support of manned spaceflight. Compared to the current and prospective alternatives (including microchannels), the reactor is much smaller and lighter,...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Technology for a Comet Sample Return Mission Version 2

A standoff sample collection system would be capable of quickly obtaining a sample from environments as varied as comets, asteroids, and permanently shadowed craters on the Moon from vehicles ranging from traditional planetary spacecraft to platforms such as hovering rotorcraft or balloons...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Nitrous Oxide Ethane-Ethylene Engine

The Nitrous Oxide Ethylene-Ethane (NEE) engine uses nitrous oxide as an autogenously pressurizing oxidizer, and a mixture of ethane and ethylene is used in the same manner as fuel. Initially, the ethane and ethylene mixture has the same vapor pressure as the nitrous oxide. By using the autogenous...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Powder Handling Device for Analytical Instruments

A new technology provides for automated sample handling and movement of coarse-grained powder or other solid materials to enable analysis by a robotic or totally automated computer system. Currently, many analytical instruments require a powder sample to control the shape and/or volume of the...

News : Photonics/Optics
'Cloaking' Device Uses Ordinary Lenses to Hide Objects

Inspired perhaps by Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, scientists have recently developed several ways to hide objects from view. The latest effort, begun at the University of Rochester, not only overcomes some of the limitations of previous devices, but also uses inexpensive, readily...

News : Motion Control
Untethered Soft Robot Walks Through Flames

Developers from Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have produced the first untethered soft robot — a quadruped that can stand up and walk away from its designers.

The researchers were able to scale up earlier...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Universal Mechanical Testers for Tribology Testing in the Automotive Industry

Very few industries are as affected by strict test standards as the automotive sector. Nearly every automobile component (engine parts, accelerators, clutches, brakes, tires, seatbelts, etc.) must exhibit adequate tribological properties in accordance with ASTM, DIN,...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Fail-Safe Accumulator for Internal Active Thermal Control Loops

Spacecraft internal active thermal control systems (ATCSs) typically use water or a water mixture as their working fluid. A gas-charged bellows accumulator pressurizes the system and provides liquid inventory control. If only a single internal ATCS loop is used, the accumulator...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Rocket Vent Design With Variable Flow Control and Rain Protection

This innovation is a rocket purge vent design that can control and balance flow across multiple vents and across very large gas flow ranges while keeping water or other undesirable gases from entering into the vented space. When changing purge rates, this device adapts to the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Turbo-Brayton Converter for Fission Surface Power Applications

Producing electric power for space applications is challenging. Although short-term missions can use batteries or fuel cells, these sources are not practical for durations longer than one month. Photovoltaics become less attractive as the distance from the Sun increases, and they are...