Agripper system for automatically handling tiny components, developed in the context of a Eureka project, uses the adhesive properties of ice to pick them up. The gripper first sprays a drop of water onto the object to be handled. It then closes in on the object. As soon as they touch, it freezes the water. The component can then be picked up and manipulated as necessary using the gripping strength of ice. This is around 1N/sq mm which is 20-100 times stronger than that obtained with vacuum grippers, says Mario El-Khoury, manager, industrial control at CSEM, the Swiss Centre for Electronics and Microtechnology, a partner in the European project. To release the object, the tip of the gripper is simply warmed up to the phase- change temperature of the liquid interface. The prototype version of Microgrip is capable of handling components measuring between 0.1 and 5 mm, with an accuracy of 1 micron, at a rate of 1,000 cycles per hour. The "ice" gripper is now undergoing industrialization by AP Technologies and Sysmelec, two other participants in the project. Meanwhile, El-Khoury's group is developing applications for the "ice" technology. A new Eureka project, in which Siemens and Philips are participants, will use Microgrip to manipulate micro-sized parts during low-distortion welding operations. For more information, call: Dr. Mario El-Khoury, at: +41-32- 720-55-96.
If you see a hitchhiker along the road in Canada this summer, it may not be human. That’s because a robot is thumbing its way across our neighbor to the north as part of a collaborative research project by several Canadian universities.
Stanford University researchers have found a way to realize what’s been called the “Holy Grail” of battery-design research -- designing a pure lithium anode for lithium-based batteries. The design has great potential to provide unprecedented efficiency and performance in lithium-based batteries that could substantially drive down the cost of electric vehicles and solve the charging problems associated with smartphones.
Robots in films during the 2000s hit the big time; no longer are they the sidekicks of nerdy character actors. Robots we see on the big screen in recent years include Nicole Kidman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Eddie Murphy. Top star of the era, Will Smith, takes a spin as a robot investigator in I, Robot. Robots (or androids or cyborgs) are fully mainstream in the 2000s.
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