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

Flexible’ Machine Vision: Sensors, Lenses, and Software

Machine vision has become indispensable in today’s highly automated manufacturing environments, which rely on accurate in spec tion to ensure high product quality and high process efficiency. Applications for the technology span industry, and include everything from validation of printed barcodes and text on consumer product labeling, to assembly verification of printed circuit boards, to dimensional measurement of automotive parts. The demand for vision inspection only continues to grow with increasing throughput requirements and stringent quality standards that necessitate full inspection and render manual product inspection unfeasible.

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Artificial intelligence, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Artificial intelligence, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Automation, Reliability, Reliability, Inspections
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Pixel-Scale Coated Sensors Bring Multispectral Imaging to New Users

The pixel-scale patterning of optical filters directly onto sensors has the potential to drastically simplify and scale down the cost of real-time multispectral imaging. Without moving parts, a more robust and compact system can be deployed into harsher environments than have been previously accessible for multispectral imagers.

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Optics, Sensors and actuators, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Optics, Sensors and actuators
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A New American Space Age

NASA and industry are working together to ensure safe, reliable, and affordable space transportation launching from U.S. soil by mid-decade.

NASA and its industry partners are developing a U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability with the goal of achieving safe, reliable, and cost-effective access to and from low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station. Through a program begun in 2006, NASA is investing financial and technical resources to stimulate efforts within the private sector to develop these capabilities.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Air transportation facilities, Research and development, Spacecraft
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Linear Guide Systems Streamline Aircraft Seat Assembly and Operation

Linear guide rails are an important component within aircraft interiors. Following are some of the places where they are used:

• For seat adjustments — forward and back seat movements, footrests, sliding armrests, and tables.
• Rails enable 180° positioning for super first class seats that flatten for sleeping.
• Sliding privacy screens between passengers.
• Kitchen slide-outs, such as garbage compactors.
• Sliding lavatory doors.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Seats and seating, Seats and seating, Assembling, Aircraft
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Fiber Delivery of Lasers in Bioinstrumentation

In many laser-based types of bioinstrumentation, including flow cytometers, confocal microscopes, and array readers for proteomics, laser output is delivered to the system’s final optics regime via fiber coupling. Over the past few years, this fiber delivery has evolved from simple remote delivery to finally encompass plug-and-play use of multiple lasers with sub-micron beam positioning accuracy. This capability is supporting a new generation of instruments that combine state-of-the-art performance with ease of use.

Posted in: Features, Articles, Photonics, Fiber optics, Lasers, Microscopy, Fiber optics, Lasers, Microscopy, Medical equipment and supplies, Test equipment and instrumentation
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Turbomachinery Solutions for Green and Renewable Energy

For more than two decades, nearly all renewable energy endeavors have incorporated the latest advances in turbomachinery design and turbomachinery manufacturing technology in an evolving effort to achieve and even surpass the economics of utility scale. Even mature turbomachines continue to be optimized for increments of better performance, efficiency, and energy conservation.

Posted in: Articles, Energy, Renewable Energy, Sustainable development, Solar energy, Wind power
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Space-Inspired Trailers Encourage Exploration on Earth

Space Station living quarters inspire custom RVs.

Garrett Finney moved the office coffeemaker into the full-size, cardboard mockup of the new trailer he was designing. The need for caffeine — and the threat of hot coffee accidentally dumped on a coworker — provided motivation and means for assessing the feasibility of a confined living space. Finney has what he calls a “nonstandard expertise in people in small spaces.” He developed it while part of a NASA team designing living quarters for the International Space Station (ISS).

Posted in: Articles, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Design processes, Human factors, Recreational vehicles and equipment
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Energy Harvesting Wireless Lighting Control Systems

Energy can be found everywhere — in the movement of doors and windows or machine components, the vibration of motors, changing temperature or variances in luminance level. These energy sources, which usually remain unused, can be tapped by means of energy harvesting to power electronic devices and transmit wireless signals. This principle is the basis of energy harvesting wireless technology. In the course of ten years, the technology has opened up three different sources of energy to power wireless modules: motion, light and temperature differences.

Posted in: Articles, Lighting, Electronic control systems, Switches, Wireless communication systems, Electronic control systems, Switches, Wireless communication systems, Solar energy, Automation
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Ensuring Fixture Compatibility for LEDs

Lighting, as an industry, has seen very few significant innovations in the basic technology of light production in the past century. As a result of this static situation, lighting companies have largely been concerned with novel ways to bend metal and shape glass. Current mature technologies such as incandescent and fluorescent have given rise to a lighting infrastructure that is inefficient, overbuilt, and mostly focused on mitigating the overproduction of light from highly inefficient sources.

Posted in: Articles, Lighting, Light emitting diodes (LEDs), Light emitting diodes (LEDs)
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Driving The Future of LCD Backlighting

One of the most pervasive challenges in the world today is increasing energy efficiency. The consumer electronics industry is evolving towards higher efficiency due to newer and stricter energy standards as well as consumer awareness. The demand for higher efficiency drives innovative companies to develop technology with smarter power management. One of the fastest growing areas is in display backlighting. Whether it is in mobile phones, MP3 players, portable gaming consoles or GPS systems, the light source behind LCD screens helps bring the colors to life. Powering these screens, like so many engineering challenges, comes in various solutions depending on the specific application. In the portable display backlighting market, a newer and smarter solution will revolutionize the way LCD screens are lit.

Posted in: Articles, Lighting, Energy conservation, Displays, Displays
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