Wednesday, April 18, 2001
Orlando, FL--More and more Web-based tools are becoming
available to designers in diverse fields. The first morning of this week's
AeroSense symposium in Orlando highlighted two of them.
Designers of medical equipment and diagnostic systems should check out progress on the Virtual Human project being lead by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (www.ornl.gov/virtualhuman). This collection of assets on the Internet is aimed at modeling organs and their behavior on the systems level. The project looks to establish servers with resources, including libraries of physiological models, anatomical data (for developing equivalent physical "phantom" models of various organs that can be made for device testing), actual patient data (such as EKG and EEG traces), and databases of metabolic and bioprocesses. These would all be linked by a "client" user interface. The system could be used to study, for example, how the organs in the chest would respond to and be affected by a blunt-object or accident trauma. Organ exposure to toxins, such as mercury vapor inhalation, and treatment, could also be modeled. With precise models of "well" and "problem" physiological characteristics, safety, medical-imaging, and diagnostic systems designers will be able to evaluate effectiveness of products earlier in the design cycle.
For robotics engineers looking for fertile areas to develop, the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command should have ready in a few weeks a database of the technologies available and in development (and their relative importance and maturity) that are needed to realize future military robotics requirements, according to Virginia "Suzy" Young, who is in charge of the effort. Systems, such as unmanned air and ground vehicles and unattended ground sensors and weapons, will rely on critical technologies such as mobility, sensors, intelligence, C3 (command, control, and communications), as well as human-machine interfaces (HMI). Young says that as robots become more autonomous over the next 25 years, HMI and C3 will become less important, while sensors, mobility, and intelligence will see greater utilization.