Thursday, April 5, 2012

Humanoid Robot that does push ups!!

Hello Future Engineer,

It has been a long time since I last blogged. I will disguise my procrastination under the pretext of waiting for some quality topic. In any case, what I saw today on Hizook compelled me to blog about it.

DARPA has constantly been stoking the fire of research, and this time DoD wants a humanoid robot in the driver's seat. To get a grasp on state of humanoid robot research and technological progress, let us meet Petman. Petman is a humanoid robot that walks like a human, even does push ups...!!. Click on Petman above to watch it walk and do push ups.

In case if you wanted to keep abreast of progress on robotics, use Hizook.

Hope you enjoyed viewing Petman, as much as I enjoyed blogging about it.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Self healing circuits

Hello future engineer,

Mankind has now inched a tad bit closer to making a closer replica of robots that mimic living beings. One of the essential differences was the robot's inability to heal itself. The University of Illinois material science and engineering professors have now made a breakthrough in this direction. No, they were not working with robotics applications in mind, but rather saving the downtime that goes in replacing the integrated circuits if the circuit board develops a crack or such.

What they did was to place tiny microcapsules (as small as 10 microns in diameter) filled with liquid metal on top of a gold line functioning as a circuit. When the circuit develops a crack, the microcapsules break open, releasing the liquid gallium-indium alloy into the gap and restoring the current. This is accomplished in blink of an eye (or less), with a success rate of 99% in most cases.

You can read more about it at, CNET

Hope you enjoyed it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Meet the man who invented email

The name, V. A. Shiva Ayyadurai may not ring a bell, but perhaps some of you might figure that "shiva" gives away the name as of Indian origin. It was in 1978, as a 14-year high school student in New Jersey that Mr.Ayyadurai invented email. He was part of a select group of students who were working as interns at Brookhaven National Laboratory with top notch scientists (Les Michaelson in this case).
"He was given a room to put his first computer in and start the lab for computer science, which was one computer and one HP mainframe. And Les said, “Hey, would you like to create an electronic mail system?” So I said, “Yeah,” and I was just nodding my head, thinking he meant sending electricity through paper, because this guy’s a particle physicist." (excerpt from Time, see the link below for more interesting details)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How Google's Self-Driving Car Works

Once a secret project, Google's autonomous vehicles are now out in the open, quite literally, with the company test-driving them on public roads and, on one occasion, even inviting people to ride inside one of the robot cars as it raced around a closed course.

Google's fleet of robotic Toyota Priuses has now logged more than 190,000 miles (about 300,000 kilometers), driving in city traffic, busy highways, and mountainous roads with only occasional human intervention. The project is still far from becoming commercially viable, but Google has set up a demonstration system on its campus, using driverless golf carts, which points to how the technology could change transportation even in the near future.

You can read more (and watch relevant videos) by clicking on IEEE Spectrum.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Direct Conversion from Heat to Electricity using Multiferroic materials

Hello future engineer,

Multiferroic materials are the materials that exhibit more than one ferroic properties, the ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties being the most popularly known.

Recently, research workers (working with Prof. Richard James) at the University of Minnesota, discovered a new multiferroic material that can convert heat to electricity directly. This has huge implications on generating electricity from waste sources of heat that could not otherwise be tapped. You can read the entire article here.

Just in case if you are not aware about how electricity is obtained from heat, I would like to point out that typically, the conversion of heat to electricity in commercial power plants is by way of mechanical work by a prime mover (like driving a turbine using steam, combustion products, or some other vapor). The prime mover is coupled to an electric generator that converts the mechanical work to electricity (or electrical energy to be more precise).

Friday, June 3, 2011

Inver Hills Rocketry Team earns 5th place in prestigious NASA USLI competition

Inver Thrills, the rocketry team from Inver Hills Community College, earned 5th place (overall) in the NASA USLI (University Student Launch Initiative) rocketry competition. There were 28 teams from different educational institutions (mostly universities, and three community colleges) from within USA. The overall rankings were as follows:
1) Utah State University
2) MIT
3) Vanderbilt
4) North Carolina State University
5) Inver Hills Community College
You can read more about our rocketry team's accomplishments here. Please also click on other links (video of our team's rocket launch in Alabama) at that website. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Generating electricity from depleted uranium

Hello Future Engineer,

TerraPower claims to have come up with an idea to generate electricity from depleted uranium. Depleted uranium is a by product of enrichment process and is popularly known for its use in armor piercing shells.

According to TerraPower's website, the Traveling Wave Reactor (TWR) converts depleted uranium into usable fuel without need for further enrichment or reprocessing. Considering huge stockpiles of depleted uranium resulting from nuclear fuel enrichment, there is virtually an inexhaustible source of energy waiting to be used!

You can read more about it at TerraPower's website. You can also watch a video clip about it at the bottom of the aforementioned link.