Mechatronics Zone Blog

The Instagif NextStep-- Building a Camera That Takes Animated GIFs

By Abhishek Singh | September 14, 2017

I built a camera that snaps a GIF and ejects a little cartridge so you can hold a moving photo in your hand! I'm calling it the "Instagif NextStep." Don't ask me why I built it, it sounded like a fun challenge and I always wanted to hold a moving photo.

Apple's New A11 Chip is the Real iPhone X Innovation

By Chris Wiltz | September 14, 2017

On the 10th anniversary of the iPhone's release, Apple has decided to skip over nine and jump straight to 10 with the release of the iPhone X (pronounced “iPhone 10”). And while fans will be delighted with the larger “Super Retina” display, wireless charging, and improved cameras, the real innovation is going on under the hood, with a new chip, the A11 Bionic, that is optimized for next-gen technologies like advanced machine learning and augmented reality (AR).

New Thermoplastic Could Reduce Battery Pack Mass

By Charles Murray | September 14, 2017

A new thermoplastic material could enable battery makers to integrate cooling channels into a battery’s case, resulting in a lighter pack with higher energy density.

The new material, known as BayBlend TP4065, brings a new wrinkle to battery development because it can stand up to liquid coolants without degrading. As a result, battery makers can now mold channels into the plastic itself, instead of using metal conduits to carry the coolant throughout the pack.


Feds Aim to Streamline Autonomous Car Development

By Charles Murray | September 13, 2017

In an effort to speed development of autonomous vehicle technology, the US Department of Transportation on Tuesday rolled out an initiative that would help automakers put self-driving cars on public roads more quickly.

Microsoft Leverages FPGAs for Real-Time AI

By Chris Wiltz | September 13, 2017

No technology is immune to the draw of customization, and neither is artificial intelligence. Microsoft believes the solution to delivering real-time AI, artificial intelligence that processes data immediately as it comes in, lies in FPGAs. While competitors like Google and Nvidia have entered the AI computing space with dedicated processors optimized for deep learning algorithms, Microsoft says that FGPAs allows it to deliver a cloud-based deep learning platform that is ultralow latency, more powerful, and more easily scalable than other solutions.

Hacking Humans to Reach Company Assets

By Rob Spiegel | September 12, 2017

Cyber attacks have changed in recent years. Gone are the days when relatively benign bedroom hackers entered organizations to show off their skills. Attackers now are often sophisticated criminals who target employees who have access to the organization’s jewels. Instead of using blunt force, these savvy criminals use age-old human fallibility to con unwitting employees into handing over the keys to the vault.

New Chip Could Simplify V2X Development

By Charles Murray | September 12, 2017

NXP Semiconductors N.V. today is rolling out a single-chip, global platform solution for so-called “V2X” communication, which promotes highway safety by allowing vehicles to talk each other and to roadside infrastructure.

AI and Robotics Companies Ask UN to Ban 'Killer Robots'

By Chris Wiltz | September 11, 2017

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Google Deepmind Founder Mustafa Suleyman, and Universal Robotics Founder Esben Østergaard are among the 116 robotics and artificial intelligence founders and experts who signed a recent open letter to the UN asking for a ban on lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS), more colloquially known as, “killer robots.”

The letter reads in part:

Are Mirrorless Cars Inevitable?

By Charles Murray | September 11, 2017

If you’re like most drivers, you probably glance at your mirrors every few seconds. In the next decade, however, that may change.

Increasingly, concept cars are popping up without mirrors. At next week’s Frankfurt Motor Show, for example, Kia is expected to roll out a sleek station wagon with no side mirrors. Similarly, Tesla earlier this year provided a glimpse of its Model Y crossover concept, which featured no rear-view mirrors. And BMW unveiled a mirrorless design on an i8 concept car in 2016.


Making Collaborative Robots You Can Talk To

By Chris Wiltz | September 8, 2017

Thanks to everyday artificial intelligence like Alexa, Siri, and Google Home, users have come to expect to use simple sentences and queries to communicate with their devices. But while you can give your smart home device a simple statement to find out about weather, movie times, or other benign things, that same ease of communication hasn't translated into the industrial space, where more and more collaborative robots (cobots) are working alongside humans.