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.
One way to keep a Formula One racing team moving at breakneck speed in the pit and at the test facility is to bring CAD drawings of the racing vehicle’s parts down to the test facility and even out to the track.
Most of us would just as soon step on a cockroach rather than study it, but that’s just what researchers at UC Berkeley did in the pursuit of building small, nimble robots suitable for disaster-recovery and search-and-rescue missions.
Design engineers need to prepare for a future in which their electronic products will use not just one or two, but possibly many user interfaces that involve touch, vision, gestures, and even eye movements.
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