Researchers at GE Global Research in the US are developing a technology that will allow machine designers to use special “inks” to print miniature sensors inside machinery and in other hot, harsh and hard-to-reach places. They say that the technology, called Direct Write, will allow them to put sensors where they’ve never been before, and could speed up the transition to link up machines to the Internet of Things.
A Florida company claims to have developed “the world’s lightest electric vehicle” – a 9.9lb (4.5kg) skateboard powered by a 2kW brushless DC motor which can propel the board at speeds of up to 20mph (32km/h) for an hour or more. In less than a month, a Kickstarter campaign to back the development has more than doubled its initial funding target of $90,000.
A group of German organisations – including Festo and the fortiss research institute – have developed an open software architecture for automation systems that allows factory production components to network and configure themselves intelligently and autonomously.
Researchers at the University of Birmingham in the UK have developed a way of teaching robots to pick up unfamiliar objects without dropping or breaking them.
Toyota and the automotive parts supplier Denso have developed a silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductor for use in automotive power control units (PCUs) which, they say, will boost hybrid vehicle (HV) efficiencies by 10% and reduce PCU sizes by 80%, compared to systems based on silicon devices. Toyota plans to start test-driving vehicles fitted with the new PCUs within a year.
US researchers have developed a switched reluctance motor with two stators that, they claim, produces significantly more power and torque for a given size and weight than traditional motor technologies, without using permanent magnets or rare-earth materials.
A British manufacturer of electric golf trolleys has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise £28,000 ($47,000) to design and build a universal motor controller for DC brushed and brushless motors. The company, called CompactCaddy, realised the need for such a controller when it could not find a suitable controller for testing an axial flux motor that it had developed.
A consortium of 30 organisations from nine European countries have built a prototype of a compact electric vehicle motor that needs no rare-earth materials, yet is smaller, lighter and more powerful than conventional EV motors. The motor has been developed as part of the €36m MotorBrain project which aims to improve the efficiency of EV drivetrains by up to 20%.
The Ethernet Powerlink Standardisation Group (EPSG) has issued a new version of the Powerlink stack which, it says, has a simplified architecture and improved modularity.
Swiss researchers have programmed a robot to catch a variety of spinning objects – including tennis rackets, hammers and half-full bottles – when they are thrown towards it.
The US networking equipment supplier B&B Electronics has formed a partnership with an Internet-of-Things (IoT) specialist, SeeControl, to offer predictive monitoring systems for industrial applications. This is the first of several strategic relationships that B&B is planning with cloud-based data analysis companies.
The European plane-maker Airbus has flown an battery-powered plane that could be the forerunner of a new generation of small electric and hybrid powered aircraft, as well as hybrid airliners capable of carrying 80 passengers.
The organisation that developed the tiny, low-cost Raspberry Pi computer has announced the development of an even smaller version aimed at industrial and commercial applications. The Rasbperry Pi Compute module, which is expected to cost around $30 in batches of 100, is essentially a Raspberry Pi shrunk down to fit onto a SODIMM board, along with onboard memory.
At the 2014 Hannover Fair, ABB has unveiled a new version of its high-efficiency synchronous reluctance (SynRM) motor technology which reduces losses by a further 20%, potentially allowing it to comply with as-yet-unpublished IE5 (“ultra premium”) efficiency norm.
UPDATED: A group of German open-source motion engineering enthusiasts has raised more than €20,000 via the crowd-funding site Indiegogo to produce a motion control board that could be used to create a 3D printing platform for less than $700. By the time the appeal ended on 1 May, they had raised €20,621.