The International Space Station is being gradually constructed in orbit, with
astronauts and materials supplied by a succession of missions in the Space
But human space walks are risky, so much of the work is done by robotic
cranes. So far, it's all been done by the Little Arm, a 50-ft, 3-inch crane
carried aboard the Shuttle.
On April 19, the Shuttle will bring the station its first permanent crane,
the Canadian-built Canadarm2, also called the Big Arm (www.space.gc.ca/home/index.asp).
Astronauts will do two space walks to attach the 57-ft, 9-inch crane to the
station, and to switch it on (www.shuttlepresskit.com/STS-100/eva14.htm).
Next, a future shuttle flight will bring the arm's "fingers," allowing it to
construct and attach the space station's airlock, scheduled to be delivered on a
shuttle flight in June. In coming years, it will attach the station's solar
wings. It can also catch orbiting satellites, or serve as a mobile work platform
for spacewalking astronauts.
Like the five original Little Arms, the Big Arm was built by MacDonald
Dettwiler Space and Advanced Robotics (MD Robotics, Brampton, Ontario, www.mdrobotics.ca/). Aside from its longer
reach, the billion-dollar Big Arm can do more complex tasks than the Little Arm
since it can "walk" completely around the Space Station, using a "hand" on each
end to move like an inchworm. Although the new arm weighs in at 3,618 lbs, this
motion is possible because its joints have greater freedom of motion than either
the Little Arm or a human arm. It has no trouble supporting its own mass in
zero-gravity space, but since it's designed to lift as much as 255,000 lbs, it
must be made of high-strength aluminum, stainless steel, and graphite epoxy.
Truchard will be presented the award at the 2014 Golden Mousetrap Awards ceremony during the co-located events Pacific Design & Manufacturing, MD&M West, WestPack, PLASTEC West, Electronics West, ATX West, and AeroCon.
In a bid to boost the viability of lithium-based electric car batteries, a team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has developed a chemistry that could possibly double an EV’s driving range while cutting its battery cost in half.
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.