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May News in Brief

07 May, 2007

º  Colorado-based UQM Technologies is providing a motor to propel Boeing’s electrically-powered plane which is due take off in Spain later this year. The single-seater plane will use fuel cells and batteries to cruise at a speed of about 100km/h. UQM has also received an extra $1m contract from the US Air Force to convert a pick-up truck to all-electric operation using silicon carbide power modules. The $2.8m project is due to be completed by November 2008.

º  Adept Technology has announced a compact six-axis robot controller which, it claims, has a footprint one eighth the size of its nearest competitor. The MotionBlox-60R eliminates the need for costly cabling and cabinets by being located within the robot’s working envelope.

º  The US-based PackML group and the German-based Weihenstephan standards working committee have agreed to collaborate on harmonising their standards for packaging machinery. Both groups are developing processes that will make it easier to integrate packaging lines and make their operations more efficient.

º  EA Technology, based at Capenhurst near Chester, has developed an early warning system that monitors medium voltage switchgear continuously for signs of deterioration. A series of alarm nodes placed on switchgear panels is linked to a central hub. If a node detects critical levels of partial discharge, is displays a warning light and alerts the hub which also shows a warning.

º  The EtherCAT Technology Group has announced the availability of a slave controller chip with four Ethernet ports which will support flexible topologies and redundant drop lines. ETG says that the ET1100 chip, which has 32 digital I/O ports, is "a major step" that "demonstrates the finalisation of the technology development phase".

º  This year’s €100,000 Hermes technology award, announced at the Hannover Fair, has gone to Bayer Technology Services and Ingenia Technology for their joint development of a technology for detecting and avoiding forged products. Their ProteXXion Laser Surface Authentication system scans a product’s surface characteristics to authenticate it.

º  Tesla Motors has revealed that its all-electric sportscar will be at least 45kg heavier than originally estimated, reducing its range on a single charge of its battery to around 320km rather than the 400km originally claimed. More than 380 people have put down $50,000 deposits for the $100,000 car, dues to enter production later this year.

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