When BMX racing makes its Olympic debut at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, the riders will kick off each race on a new pneumatic starting gate that features advanced electronic controls. ProStuff LLC builds this eight-rider gate, as well as a line of smaller practice models, mostly from a collection of standard Parker Hannifin components. What's most interesting about the gate isn't so much the componentry as ProStuff's design philosophy. ProStuff's founder, Pierce Barker III, has a day job as vice-president of Barker Rockford, a systems integrator that been building industrial machines for about 50 years. "We approached BMX gates the same way we would approach any machine-building project–with a focus on safety, performance, and reliability," he says. And that machine-builder's mentality has resulted in BMX gate designs that are arguably the most advanced in the world. Read the full story here.
Two researchers from Cornell University have won a $100,000 grant from NASA to continue work to develop an energy-harvesting robotic eel the space agency aims to use to explore oceans on one of the moons of Jupiter.
Is the factory smarter than it used to be? From recent buzzwords, you’d think we’ve entered a new dimension in industrial plants, where robots run all physical functions wirelessly and humans do little more than program ever more capable robotics. Some of that is actually true, but it’s been true for a while.
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