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DARPA creates program to promote robotic actuation efficiency

July 5, 2012 7:41 am | News | Comments

Humans and animals have evolved to consume energy very efficiently for movement. If robotic actuation can be made to approach the efficiency of human and animal actuation, the range of practical robotic applications will greatly increase. To help this progression, DARPA has created the M3 Actuation program with the goal of achieving a 2,000% increase in the efficiency of power transmission and application.

Technique allows simulation of noncrystalline materials

June 22, 2012 3:36 am | by David Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A multidisciplinary team of researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and in Spain has found a new mathematical approach to simulating the electronic behavior of noncrystalline materials, which may eventually play an important part in new devices including solar cells; organic LED lights; and printable, flexible electronic circuits.

System improves automated monitoring of security cameras

June 4, 2012 9:27 am | News | Comments

Police and security teams guarding airports, docks, and border crossings from terrorist attack or illegal entry need to know immediately when someone enter a prohibited area. A network of surveillance cameras is typically used to monitor these at-risk locations. Now, a system being developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology can perform security analysis more accurately and in a fraction of the time it would take a human camera operator.

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An invention with impact

May 31, 2012 8:40 am | News | Comments

What do you get when you combine a slingshot, a fish tank, a stack of 2 by 4s, and five engineering students determined to help the United States Air Force? For Team CADET at Rice University, the answer is a device to stop high-velocity projectiles without destroying them.

Lower energy could lead to more biological imaging at LCLS

May 29, 2012 11:15 am | News | Comments

While SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory's Linac Coherent Light Source was designed to push the limits as a high-energy X-ray laser, users' requests led staff at the facility to successfully step it back to a lower minimum energy for some experiments. And a successful test proved that the X-ray laser could dip more deeply into the so-called "water window," an energy regime useful for biological imaging.

Coalition to develop world’s cleanest passenger train

May 22, 2012 12:57 pm | News | Comments

Plans to create the world's first carbon-neutral higher-speed locomotive were unveiled this week by the Coalition for Sustainable Rail, which has the goal of proving the viability of solid biofuel—torrefied biomass—and modern steam locomotive technology. The first step in those plans is to break the world speed record for steam trains.

Rover on the move after surviving Martian winter

May 10, 2012 6:28 pm | News | Comments

After spending nearly five months conducting experiments in one spot, the NASA rover moved for the first time this week, rolling off the rock outcrop where it hunkered down for the Martian winter. Engineers will check its power supply before directing it north to study dust and bedrock.

Improved lubrication from polymers and water, not oil

May 8, 2012 11:34 am | News | Comments

Mineral oil is typically used as a cooling lubricant for machining hard metals and for tool-making machinery on which tools are manufactured, but engineers are now offering an alternative to fossil fuel-based oils that often transport very little heat. The new aqueous biopolymer solutions are actually based on water, which is no worse a lubricant than oil if the right additives are used.

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Testing technology finds assembly errors quickly

April 30, 2012 9:36 am | News | Comments

If errors creep in during the assembly of components for automobiles, costly post-processing is often the consequence. Automatic testing is difficult, especially where individual products are concerned. Now, researchers in Germany are new testing system that is flexible and economical, even for smaller production runs.

Leak Testing System Shortens Cycle Time

April 30, 2012 9:02 am | Product Releases | Comments

InterTech Development Company has designed an in-line solution around the versatility of their M1075 leak tester. The new system shortens test cycle time and saves costs for diesel engine production lines by finding leaks faster.

Nanotech gets boost from nanowire decorations

April 27, 2012 5:59 am | News | Comments

Engineers at Stanford University have found a novel method for decorating nanowires with chains of tiny particles to increase their electrical and catalytic performance. The new technique is simpler, faster, and provide greater control than earlier methods and could lead to better batteries, solar cells, and catalysts.

Students automate process of lengthening children’s limbs

April 24, 2012 6:04 am | by Mike Williams | News | Comments

A team of Rice University students has invented a machine designed to improve the process of correcting bone deformities in children. Typically, bone correction devices are manually operated, which children must remember to use and which introduces the possibility of damaging fragile tissues and nerves. The new automated linear lengthener avoids these risks.

New Life for 3D Printing

April 19, 2012 12:03 pm | by James F. Bredt, PhD, Chief Materials Scientist, Viridis3D LLC, Lowell, Mass. | Articles | Comments

Mature additive manufacturing technologies present new opportunities for R&D prototypes, high-end manufacturing facilities, and hobbyists alike.

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Finding ET may require giant robotic leap

April 18, 2012 12:36 pm | News | Comments

Autonomous, self-replicating robots—exobots—are the way to explore the universe, find and identify extraterrestrial life and perhaps clean up space debris in the process, according to a Penn State engineer, who notes that the search for extraterrestrial intelligence—SETI—is in its 50th year.

Digital manufacturing leaders Stratasys and Objet to merge

April 18, 2012 5:52 am | News | Comments

Stratasys, Inc., a manufacturer of 3D printers and production systems for prototyping and manufacturing applications, and privately-held Objet Ltd., a manufacturer of 3D printers for rapid prototyping, have approved a definitive merger agreement under which the companies would combine in an all-stock transaction worth approximately $1.4 billion.

Report: Diesel technologies drastically cut emissions

April 18, 2012 5:34 am | News | Comments

New research from North Carolina State University shows that federal requirements governing diesel engines of new tractor trailer trucks have resulted in major cuts in emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides—pollutants that have significant human health and environmental impacts.

Engine testing company to open facility in Purdue Research Park

April 13, 2012 4:25 am | News | Comments

The 725-acre Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette is the largest university-affiliated incubation complex in the country, and will soon get larger as Automotive Robotics Proving Labs Inc. plans to open a nearly 50,000-square-foot engine test facility and create 30 jobs.

Study ties oil, gas production to Midwest quakes

April 9, 2012 8:28 am | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

According to findings by the U.S. Geological Survey, the rate of earthquakes in the United States’ midsection has jumped six-fold from the late 20th century through last year, and the changes are "almost certainly man-made." Most of the earthquakes resulting from drilling activities are relatively mold, falling into the magnitude 3 range on the Richter scale.

Robotic hand is powerful yet delicate

April 2, 2012 4:58 am | News | Comments

Pouring juice into a plastic cup can be a great challenge to a robot, which must hold a glass bottle firmly, yet gently grasp the cup. Researchers at Saarland University in Germany together with associates in Bologna and Naples have developed a robotic hand that can accomplish both tasks with ease using a device scarcely larger than a human arm.

Amazon CEO plans to raise sunken Apollo 11 engines

March 29, 2012 1:42 pm | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Using sonar, an expedition spearheaded by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos has discovered what he claimed were discarded engines from the 1969 Apollo 11 mission lurking 14,000 feet deep. In an online announcement Wednesday, Bezos said he is drawing up plans to recover the sunken engines, jettisoned from the mighty Saturn V rocket just minutes after launch.

Cameron: Earth's deepest spot desolate, foreboding

March 26, 2012 7:57 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

The Deepsea Challenger successfully reached the bottom of the Marianas Trench recently, a place only two others had ever gone. On board the vessel, filmmaker James Cameron spent more than three hours at the bottom, longer than the 20 minutes Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard spent in the only other visit 52 years ago.

James Cameron, others to explore the real abyss

March 16, 2012 5:39 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Earth's lost frontier is about to be explored firsthand after more than half a century. In the next several days, James Cameron, the director of "Titanic," ''Avatar" and "The Abyss," plans to dive to the deepest part of the ocean, so deep that the pressure is the equivalent of three SUVs sitting on your toe.

3D printer with nano precision

March 13, 2012 5:41 am | News | Comments

Printing 3D objects with incredibly fine details is now possible using two-photon lithography. With this technology, tiny structures on a nanometer scale can be fabricated. Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna) have now made a breakthrough in speeding up this printing technique: The high-precision 3D printer at TU Vienna is orders of magnitude faster than similar devices.

Robotic cheetah sets speed record

March 6, 2012 8:39 am | News | Comments

It won’t keep up with the real thing, but a robotic cat build for DARPA has just set a speed record for legged robots by cruising at 18 miles per hour. Boston Dynamics, known for its Big Dog and Petman projects, built the robot and intends to demonstrate a free-running prototype later this year.

Mass-production technique enables robotic insects to spring to life

February 15, 2012 10:28 am | News | Comments

A new technique inspired by elegant pop-up books and origami will soon allow clones of robotic insects to be mass-produced by the sheet. Devised by engineers at Harvard University, the layering and folding process enables the rapid fabrication of not just microrobots, but a broad range of electromechanical devices.

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