Working under contract with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Bob Englar and other researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are helping reduce the aerodynamic drag on tractor-trailer truck by at least 35%. Englar's work involves a pneumatic systems called Circulation Control that creates lift on the trailer by blowing compressed air over curved surfaces on the trailer, smoothing airflow and decreasing drag. He also found that blowing air from the bottom of the truck has the opposite effect, multiplying downward force on the tires to improve traction and braking when needed. The system uses valves that respond to driver changes in a fraction of a second, augmenting force as needed. "The driver wouldn't have to think about how it works," says Englar. He estimates that, if applied to the entire U.S. fleet of tractor-trailers, the pneumatic system could save 1.2 billion gallons of fuel each year. For more information, contact Englar at (770) 528-3222 or e-mail gtri.gatech.edu.
In a bid to boost the viability of lithium-based electric car batteries, a team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has developed a chemistry that could possibly double an EV’s driving range while cutting its battery cost in half.
Using Siemens NX software, a team of engineering students from the University of Michigan built an electric vehicle and raced in the 2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. One of those students blogged for Design News throughout the race.
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.
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.