Robotic eyes can only see so much—some sensors don't operate well in low light, and sonor systems can be confused by polished surfaces. But thanks to a mechanical engineering student, robots that are sent into dangerous locations may soon be able to scurry in the dark like roaches. Owen Y. Loh of Johns Hopkins University has built a man-made antenna that is made of cast urethane and six strain gage sensors that change resistance as they are bent. Like a cockroach's appendage, the antenna sends signals to the robot's controller, enabling it to sense its position relative to the obstacles and maneuver around them. To view a short video about the cockroach-inspired research, go to http://rbi.ims.ca/4390-532.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.