Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley, Calif.) reasoned that eliminating the need for a high-field magnet was the key to overcoming the MRI’s limitations and created Laser Detected MRI, (LMRI).LMRI uses laser-based detection to achieve high-resolution images without the need for high magnetic fields.
The Reconfigurable Engine Assembly Pallet (REAP) is an innovative concept for quickly rearranging a manufacturing fixture to accept a new part for processing. Developed by researchers at the General Motors R&D Center (Warren, Mich.), the REAP, which can be used as both an engine mount and a carrier between production stations, has economic and setup time advantages over commercial systems, while providing a high degree of flexibility in either a batch-mode job shop environment or high-volume, high-automation production systems.
The Explorer is a long-range-tetherless, self-powered robotic system for the live, visual inspection of natural gas and other pipelines. The system was created by researchers at the Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon Univ. (Pittsburgh, Pa.); Polytechnic Univ. (Brooklyn, N.Y.); NYSEARCH/Northeast Gas Association (New York, N.Y.); Strategic Center for Natural Gas and Oil, National Energy Technology Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy (Morgantown, W.V.); Jet Propulsion Lab, California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, Calif.); and ULC Robotics Inc. (Deer Park, N.Y.).
Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Livermore, Calif.), working jointly with researchers at Crystal Photonics, Inc. (Sanford, Fla.), have developed a Wavelength Converter for High-Average-Power Lasers. This novel technology efficiently changes the color of laser light, enabling large-aperture, high-average-power lasers to operate at wavelengths different than the wavelength set by the laser medium.
Since the word robot was coined eight decades ago, people have been asking the age old question, “When will there be a robot that washes my floors for me?” The answer is now. Developers from iRobot (Burlington, Mass.), the same company that brought the world the vacuuming robot Roomba, now present Scooba. This is the first fully autonomous, floor washing robot for home use. The small, 10-cm-high device simultaneously preps, washes, scrubs, and dries hard floors in one pass (although the robot will usually pass over the same area more than once.)
Aspen Systems, Inc. (Marlborough, Mass) and the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center have developed the Microclimate Cooling System. This cooling unit is the smallest vapor cycle system ever developed, weighing less than 5 kg.
Until now, robotic grippers needed end effectors specially designed for specific tasks, which limited the range of objects that robots could accommodate. However, the new Conformal Robotic Gripper/Conformal Automated Fixture, created at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (Greenbelt, Md.), enables robots to simply pick up any shaped object and manipulate it—including tools used to perform specific jobs—without changing end effectors.
Machinists are increasingly using femtosecond lasers for micromachining various materials due to their high quality and precision. However, femtosecond lasers are expensive and usually quite large in size. To overcome these limitations, General Atomics Photonics Division (San Diego, Calif.), introduced the SuperPulse to obtain the manufacturing quality of a femtosecond laser with the utility of a nanosecond laser.
In an effort to enhance the performance of a traditional air conditioning dehumidification system, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and TRANE Co. have created the TRANE CDQ system. The system is a drying agent and is ideal for building spaces in which 45 to 60% relative humidity is desired (such as hospitals and schools). This process is accomplished without the need for a separate thermal desiccant regeneration stream as the system transfers water vapor, and its cooling coil does all the dehumidification work in the system.
As global automobile sales increase, so do the demands for safer vehicles. This social mandate has driven researchers at Toyota Motor Corp. (Shizuoka, Japan) to create the world’s first commercial production of a mechanically active steering system that can simultaneously control both the steering angle and steering torque similar to a steer-by-wire system.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tenn., and SEMCO, Inc., Marietta, Georgia, have developed the SEMCO Revolution: Integrated, Active-Dessicant Rooftop Air Conditioner. The system controls both humidity and temperature independently while delivering any percentage of fresh, outdoor air required.
Researchers at X-Ray Optical Systems (XOS), East Greenbush, NY, developed the SINDIE, an X-ray fluorescence-based industrial sulfur analyzer enabling real-time detection of ultra-low sulfur concentration in fuel streams.
Conceived by physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Calif., the Inductrack Magnetic Levitation System uses a new type of maglev technology to create its levitating fields. Under development by General Atomics, San Diego, Calif., the prototype of this system uses Halbach arrays (a special configuration of neodymium, iron, and boron magnets) located beneath train cars.
Engineers from Toyota Motor Corp. and Aisin Seiki Co., Ltd. have developed the Intelligent Parking Assist (IPA) system. Using electric power steering, this technology steers cars for drivers performing difficult parking maneuvers in tight and restrictive spaces, such as parallel or garage parking, and may be of particular use for the beginner driver or physically challenged.
Oxford Diffraction, Wroclaw, Poland, and colleagues have created the XCalibur PX Ultra, an x-ray diffractometer for protein and molecular studies. Rather than using rotating anode generators, this tool enlists a proprietary conventional sealed-tube technology, dubbed EnhanceUltra, as its x-ray source.
Co-developed by Daryoush Allaei at QRDC, Inc., Chaska, Minn., and a team at Smart Screen Systems, Inc., Chisholm, Minn., the SmartScreenSystems 2003 replaces conventional vibratory/shaking screening machinery. Using "smart" electromagnetic motors and specially designed resonators to amplify motion, the SmartScreenSystems causes just the screen panel assembly to vibrate.
The Agile Machining Fixture was developed by researchers at General Motors (GM) R&D Center, Warren, Mich., mainly as a machining fixture that can be easily reconfigured to generate multiple product designs in a matter of minutes versus several months. This machining fixture system can be automated on a computer numerical control machining center or setup machine.
While security at U.S. airports have benefited from an infusion of new and advanced technologies, U.S. seaports and border crossings continue to lag behind, leaving virtual holes in our nation's security. This can be particularly distressing when one considers that almost 90% of all international cargo is shipped through the country's seaports. Developers at ARACOR, Sunnyvale, Calif., have created a response to this need with the Eagle Mobile Cargo Inspection System, a fully mobile platform, capable of traveling from point to point in crowded seaports and border crossing areas.
Developers at Toyota Motor Corp., Toyota, Japan and Toyoda Machine Works, Ltd., Okazaki, Japan, have created the Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS) System to enhance the steering system of the vehicle. In the system’s design, a steering angle sensor is coupled, with the aid of a computer, to an actuator nestled in the steering column of the automobile.
A group from the Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas, along with Anderson Electric Controls, Kent, Wash., and General Motors Powertrain, Ypsilanti, Mich., have taken virtual technology and created a response to the need for a safe and accurate portrayal of vehicle performance. The Virtual Vehicle Transmission Test Cell (VVTTC) allows users to simulate gasoline engines and vehicles around a transmission for product development.
The growing world of nanotechnology demands increasingly precise quality control in manufacturing. The Columbus Wafer Nanotopography System addresses this need. Daniel Neal and T.D. Raymond at WaveFront Sciences Inc., Albuquerque, N.M., took a technology originally used in aerospace and transformed it to fit another industry. They developed the Columbus system to detect nano-size variations in wafers and integrated circuits (IC).
A group of researchers developed the Actively Cooled Monolithic All-Ceramic High Pressure Turbine Vane with EBC, a cooled silicon nitride vane that is capable of operating at temperatures a few hundred degrees higher than any superalloy, requiring less cooling air than cooled superalloys.