Mechatronics Zone Blog

NASA X-Plane Aims to Stifle Sonic Booms

By Kevin Clemens | April 9, 2018

The Concorde was fast. Indeed, it was capable of speeds up to just over twice the speed of sound (Mach 2.04 or 1,354 mph) and flying from New York to Paris took just over 3.5 hours. But that speed came with issues, the biggest of which were the loud sonic booms created by the Concorde when flying faster than the speed of sound. The FAA banned overland supersonic commercial flights in 1973 because of the noise and complaints created by sonic booms. This meant supersonic flight was only allowed over oceans and sparsely populated areas.

The Top 5 Dangerous Assumptions Embedded Software Engineers Make

By Jacob Beningo | April 6, 2018

Whether we like it or not, we all make assumptions that form the foundation on how we think about and design embedded systems. In many cases, the assumptions we make are trivial and will have a minor impact on the systems we design or the companies we work for. Sometimes though, the assumptions that we make can be dangerous and affect whether our product or even our company will be successful. Let’s examine five dangerous assumptions that I often see teams in the embedded systems industry make.

Assumption #1 – The Hardware Works Perfectly

Benchtop Injection Molding Boosts Sumo Robot Production

By Charles Murray | April 6, 2018

Using a unique manufacturing strategy, entrepreneur Eric Parker can now scale up production and spread the influence of his Sumo Robot League farther and faster than he originally dreamed.

Parker, whose vision was to develop a product that brought software coding skills to middle school students, now sees a path to production volumes that are sometimes beyond the means of startup manufacturers. Today, he says, he can build ten Sumo Robots per hour, a figure that was once beyond his greatest hopes.

Are Small-Displacement Turbo Engines Reliable in the Long Term?

By Charles Murray | April 5, 2018

Small-displacement turbocharged engines made their biggest splash yet in January when the Honda Accord won the 2018 North American Car of the Year award, but experts are still split on the effect the technology will have on very long-term reliability.

Some say there isn’t enough data yet to determine how the smaller turbocharged units will behave for a growing number of consumers who want to keep their cars well beyond the US average of 11.6 years.

This Flexible, Piezoelectric Fabric Turns Kinetic Energy Into Electricity

By Elizabeth Montalbano | April 5, 2018

Our backpacks and workout clothes potentially have a new way to provide mobile power thanks to a team of researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, in collaboration with the Swedish School of Textiles in Sweden. The researchers have developed an elastic fabric that is turns kinetic energy into electricity. The fabric is flexible, soft and works more efficiently when more weight is placed on it or it’s wet or under a heavy load.

Wireless Power with a DIY Tesla Coil

By Drew Paul | April 4, 2018

If you have a newer-model smartphone it probably comes with built-in wireless charging. There's even talk of wireless charging coming to electric vehicles in the future. Image someday having a home with no plugs or wires, where everything just works. It’s not magic, it’s no mystery, it’s science!

How to Develop AI on a Raspberry Pi With Google Colaboratory

By Don Wilcher | April 4, 2018

Last year Google partnered with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to survey users on what would be most helpful in bringing Google's artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to the Raspberry Pi. Now those efforts are paying off.

3D Printing Used to Fill in Cranium-Bone Defects Like Tooth Fillings

By Elizabeth Montalbano | April 4, 2018

Medical applications have benefited greatly from 3D printing technology. Researchers continue to innovate, offering a continual stream of 3D printing advancements in medical treatment. Recently researchers demonstrated a new method that paves the way for live 3D printing of regenerative bone materials inside the human cranium designed to repair severe traumatic injuries—the first of its kind.

Can Blockchain Help Revolutionize Energy Production?

By Kevin Clemens | April 3, 2018

A revolution in the energy industry is coming. Blockchain is an open and distributed ledger system that can create and update records on an encrypted database that is available to all users on a network. No longer just a dream by producers of renewable wind and solar energy—the big legacy producers of traditional fossil-fuel-based energy are scrambling to be a part of transaction networks driven by Blockchain. How does it work and what will it mean? Here is an example: