In a first-of-a-kind cooperative effort, Ford Motor Co. and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are developing a hydraulic hybrid automotive power train. "It's a little unusual," says Ford advanced-engineering spokesperson John Harmon. "The EPA actually holds the patent for the technology." Harmon said that it is too soon to determine how efficient the power train is. However, he did say it is somewhat like electric hybrid power trains, but instead of batteries it uses hydraulic reservoirs for storing power. Eaton Corp. is providing power train product development expertise. For more information, go to www.eaton.com, www.ford.com, or www.epa.gov.
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.