I just returned from my visit to Sandia National Laboratories, where I saw some amazing new energy technologies. Much of the activity at this National Lab is classified research and development, the so-called “black world”, that cannot be seen by visitors. However, the unclassified research is truly impressive and provides a hint of the amazing developments that must be going on behind closed doors.
The most impressive facility I visited was the MESA Center. MESA stands for “Microsystems and Engineering Sciences Applications”. According to Sandia, this center is a “computationally-intensive environment for the design, integration, prototype fabrication, and qualification of integrated microsystems into weapon components, subsystems, and systems for the U.S. nuclear weapon stockpile”. In other words, MESA engineers apply CMOS processes pioneered by the electronics industry to making sensors and components that enhance the functionality of nuclear weapons. One aspect of this work is energy scavenging to provide power to these microsystems; see my post, The Walls are Crawling with Energy, for more details.
Unlike industrial robots, which suffered a slight overall slump in 2012, service robots continue to be increasingly in demand. The majority are used for defense, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs); and agriculture, such as milking robots.
Festo's BionicKangaroo combines pneumatic and electrical drive technology, plus very precise controls and condition monitoring. Like a real kangaroo, the BionicKangaroo robot harvests the kinetic energy of each takeoff and immediately uses it to power the next jump.
Design News and Digi-Key presents: Creating & Testing Your First RTOS Application Using MQX, a crash course that will look at defining a project, selecting a target processor, blocking code, defining tasks, completing code, and debugging.
These are the toys that inspired budding engineers to try out sublime designs, create miniature structures, and experiment with bizarre contraptions using sets that could be torn down and reconstructed over and over.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.