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.
The new composites manufacturing innovation center is intended to be a source of grand challenges for industry, like the kind that got us to the moon under JFK. These aren't the words its new CEO Craig Blue used, but that's the idea and the vision behind the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI).
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.