An informal survey of some big engineering companies reveals that a down economy and security concerns are keeping more engineers tied to their desks these days. Many firms say they have restrictions in place, allowing travel only when it involves meeting with customers or other essential can't-be-done-over-the-web-or-phone activities. Texas Instruments, for example, clamped down on nonessential travel two years ago as a cost-savings measure. Recently, it has started to further restrict travel based on security issues and foreign travel advisories. But once the economy perks up, don't reach for your carry-on bag. E-learning, video conferences, and collaborative tools are gaining traction as effective alternatives to travel.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
The IEEE Computer Society has named the top 10 trends for 2014. You can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in health care data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
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.