The transformation of global auto engineering continues at a dizzying pace. In the latest spin, Chrysler engineers are making monthly trips to a huge Fiat plant in Tychy, Poland. Small cars come off the assembly line at the plant every 55 seconds, double the production rate 13 years ago. The plant is considered a model of efficiency, and flexibility, and the Chrysler engineers are there to learn. Chrysler engineering is going on a massive diet now that the company is being run by Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of Fiat. It was only 18 months or so ago that Chrysler planned to import small car technology from China. It also wasn’t so terribly long ago that Fiat left the USA market as a failure. It wasn’t so long ago that Poland was behind the Iron Curtain-the home of the world’s worst cars. Things change fast. Maybe that can work in the favor of American car OEMs today.
A self-propelled robot developed by a team of researchers headed by MIT promises to detect leaks quickly and accurately in gas pipelines, eliminating the likelihood of dangerous explosions. The robot may also be useful in water and petroleum pipe leak detection.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has built and successfully hot-fire tested an entire 3D-printed rocket engine. In other news, NASA's 3D-printed rocket engine injectors survived tests generating a record 20,000 pounds of thrust. Some performed equally well or better than welded parts.
Researchers at MIT's d'Arbeloff Laboratory are developing shoulder- and hip-mounted robotic arms to help workers in aircraft manufacturing perform difficult or complex assembly tasks that would normally require two people.
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