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.
Are they robots or androids? We're not exactly sure. Each talking, gesturing Geminoid looks exactly like a real individual, starting with their creator, professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University in Japan.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.