Robotics, Automation & Control

LEARNING TO CRAWL: Origami Robot Moves Like an Earthworm

A team of engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign built a new kind of crawler robot. The wheel-less design takes inspiration from two unconventional sources: origami and the earthworm. Assistant professors Aimy Wissa and Sameh Tawfick, along with a team of graduate and undergraduate students, used “Kresling” paper-folding principles to create buildingblock actuators (Figure 1).

Posted in: Articles, Materials, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Automation, Robotics
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Innovators Recognized for "Creating the Future"

The Create the Future Design Contest has helped stimulate and reward engineering innovation over the past 16 years, drawing more than 14,000 product designs from engineers, students, and entrepreneurs worldwide. Top prizes in the 2017 contest — including the Grand Prize and winning designs in seven categories — were awarded on November 10 in New York City.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Aviation, Batteries, Electronics & Computers, Energy, Renewable Energy, Solar Power, Environmental Monitoring, Green Design & Manufacturing, Greenhouse Gases, Remediation Technologies, LEDs, Lighting, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling, Medical, Automation, Robotics, Measuring Instruments, Test & Measurement, Transportation
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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, WA, has been operated by Battelle and its predecessors since the lab’s inception in 1965. For more than 50 years, PNNL has advanced the frontiers of science and engineering, making fundamental scientific discoveries and solving problems in energy, the environment, and national security.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Defense, Energy, Energy Storage, Green Design & Manufacturing, Remediation Technologies, Displays/Monitors/HMIs, Imaging, Composites, Materials, Plastics, Implants & Prosthetics, Medical, Research Lab, Robotics, Detectors, Sensors
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2017 Create the Future Design Contest: Machinery Category Winner

EJBot: Versatile Climbing Robot for Industrial Vessel Inspection

Dr. Mohamed Gouda Alkalla and Mohamed Fanni
Mansoura University
Mansoura, Ad-daqahliyah, Egypt

The EJBot is a propeller-type climbing robot for climbing various types of structures to inspect industrial vessels made of various materials, including non-ferromagnetic material. The inspection process includes capturing images of important spots that are prone to corrosion, as well as measuring the vessel's wall thickness.

Posted in: Articles, Robotics
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Mineral Analyzer Shakes Answers Out of Soil and Rocks

On the Curiosity rover, a tool called CheMin (Chemistry and Mineralogy) is helping scientists determine what minerals make up the Martian landscape, and whether single-celled or more complex organisms could once have thrived there. CheMin sends an X-ray beam through tiny samples of Martian soil or rock, recording how the beam scatters as it bounces against atomic planes of the different minerals contained within. The technique, called X-ray powder diffraction (XRD), has been around for a long time, but the tools commonly used were not practical for a robotic mission millions of miles from the nearest human hands.

Posted in: Spinoff, Articles, Robotics, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Soils, Robotics, Test equipment and instrumentation
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Products of Tomorrow: November 2017

This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. To learn more about each technology, see the contact information provided for that innovation.

Posted in: Articles, Products, Batteries, Energy Storage, Fluid Handling, Implants & Prosthetics, Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy, Robotics, Ultracapacitors and supercapacitors, Ultracapacitors and supercapacitors, Air pollution, Medical equipment and supplies
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2017 Create the Future Design Contest Special Awards Section

The Create the Future Design Contest was launched 16 years ago by Tech Briefs Media Group (publishers of Tech Briefs magazine) to help stimulate and reward engineering innovation. Since then, the annual contest has drawn more than 14,000 product design ideas from engineers, students, and entrepreneurs worldwide. Sponsored by COMSOL, Mouser Electronics, and Tech Briefs Media Group, the 2017 contest rewarded innovation in seven categories: Aerospace & Defense, Automotive/Transportation, Consumer Products, Electronics/Sensors/IoT, Machinery/Automation/Robotics, Medical, and Sustainable Technologies.

Posted in: Articles, Aeronautics, Aviation, Automotive, Batteries, Imaging, Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy, Robotics
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Intelligent Robotics Safeguarding

Traditional robot applications limit operator access to hazards through hard-guarding and protective devices that either detect and stop the hazard, or prevent access into the safeguarding space until the hazard no longer exists. The introduction of power- and force-limited robots used in collaborative applications changes this environment. Reduced or nonexistent hard-guarding, along with continuous motion and interaction between the robot and the operator, makes the environment inherently dynamic and uncertain. Methods to reduce risks to a tolerable level include limiting forces and speed, but these measures can yield unacceptable production rates.

Posted in: Articles, Robotics, Artificial intelligence, Artificial intelligence, Risk management, Robotics
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Metallic Glass Shatters Gear Limitations

Gears play an essential role in precision robotics, and they can become a limiting factor when the robots must perform in space missions. In particular, the extreme temperatures of deep space pose numerous problems for successful gear operation. At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA, technologist Douglas Hofmann and his collaborators aim to bypass the limitations of existing steel gears by creating gears from bulk metallic glass (BMG).

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Metals, Mechanical Components, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Power Transmission, Robotics, Robotics, Alloys, Glass, Gears, Durability, Durability, Spacecraft
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2016 Create the Future Design Contest

The 2016 Create the Future Design Contest — sponsored by COMSOL, Mouser Electronics, and Tech Briefs Media Group (publishers of NASA Tech Briefs) — recognized innovation in product design in seven categories: Aerospace & Defense, Automotive/Transportation, Consumer Products, Electronics, Machinery/Automation/ Robotics, Med ical, and Sustainable Technologies. In this special section, you’ll meet the Grand Prize Winner, as well as the winners and Honorable Mentions in all seven categories, chosen from over 1,100 new product ideas submitted from a record 71 countries. To view all of the entries online, visit www.createthefuturecontest.com.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Automotive, Defense, Electronics, Alternative Fuels, Energy, Renewable Energy, Green Design & Manufacturing, Medical, Patient Monitoring, Automation, Robotics, Design processes, Collaboration and partnering
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