Special Coverage

Soft Robot “Walks” on Any Terrain
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Using Microwaves to Produce High-Quality Graphene
Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines

Mapping Human Movement to Improve Rehabilitative Robotics

The Biomechatronics Group at MIT is using a data-driven approach to study the mechanics and control of human walking, with the goal of applying the findings to hardware control. PhD student David Hill is developing a model that could be used to improve assistive devices that can help maintain or correct the gait of people recovering from strokes. 

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Nanoclutch Transmits Torque at Small Scales

When driving a car, the clutch mechanically carries the torque produced by the engine to the chassis of the vehicle – a coupling that has long been tested and optimized in such macroscopic machines, giving us highly efficient engines. At microscopic length scales, different physics need to be considered. A model microscopic system consists of a ring of colloidal particles localized in optical tweezers and automatically translated on a circular path, transferring a rotational motion to an assembly of identical colloids confined to the interior region.

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NASA’s Green Propellant Spacecraft Moves Toward Launch

The propulsion subsystem for NASA's Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) has been integrated onto the spacecraft, moving the mission another major step toward scheduled launch in 2016. The propulsion subsystem will be the primary payload on the mission’s spacecraft. The mission will demonstrate the practical capabilities of a hydroxyl ammonium nitrate-based fuel/oxidizer propellant blend developed by the Air Force.

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Researchers Test Robot's 'Light Touch'

Using an air-fluidized bed trackway filled with poppy seeds or glass spheres, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology systematically varied the stiffness of the ground to mimic a variety of surfaces, from hard-packed sand to powdery snow. By studying how running lizards, geckos, crabs, and a robot moved through the varying conditions, the researchers found ideal parameters for appendage design.

Posted in: News, Automation, Robotics
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Embedded Optical Sensors Make Robotic Hands More Dexterous

Researchers have developed a three-fingered soft robotic hand with embedded, stretchable fiber optic strain sensors. By using fiber optics, the researchers were able to embed 14 strain sensors into each of the fingers in the hand, giving it the ability to determine where its fingertips are in contact, and to detect forces of less than a tenth of a newton.

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Wearable Electronic Health Patches Continuously Monitor the Body

A team of researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin has invented a method for producing inexpensive and high-performing wearable patches that can continuously monitor the body’s vital signs for human health and performance tracking.

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Sensors Detect Corrosion Risk in Concrete Structures in Real Time

Researchers from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) have developed a new sensor system that detects quickly and nondestructively the risk of corrosion in the concrete structure of the buildings. The information provided allows engineers to anticipate well in advance any action deemed necessary, while reducing the costs of repair and maintenance.

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Solar-Powered Water Purification System Supports Remote Village

For nearly two years, residents of the remote Mexican village of La Mancalona, most of whom are subsistence farmers, have operated and maintained a solar-powered water purification system engineered by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

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Making 3D Objects Disappear

Invisibility cloaks are a staple of science fiction and fantasy, from Star Trek to Harry Potter, but don’t exist in real life. Or do they? Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley have devised an ultra-thin invisibility “skin” cloak that can conform to the shape of an object and conceal it from detection with visible light. Although this cloak is only microscopic in size, the principles behind the technology should enable it to be scaled-up to conceal macroscopic items as well.

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New Spectroscopy Method Captures Reactions in Photosynthesis

A new spectroscopy method is bringing researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) closer to understanding – and artificially replicating – the solar water-splitting reaction at the heart of photosynthetic energy production. Understanding the step-by-step mechanism of photosynthesis could lead to methods of producing highly efficient solar energy. The spectroscopy method, a novel use of “2D HYSCORE,” is able to capture the reactions that split water and hydrogen peroxide in metal-containing proteins or metallo- enzymes in nature.

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