CUR Engineering Division Announces 2021 Mentoring Awardees, Student Video Competition Winners

The Engineering Division of the Council on Undergraduate Research announces the 2021 recipients of its Mentoring Awards and winners of its Student Video Competition.

How An Elephant’s Trunk Manipulates Air to Eat and Drink

New research from Georgia Tech finds that elephants dilate their nostrils in order to create more space in their trunks, allowing them to store up to nine liters of water. They can also suck up three liters per second — a speed 50 times faster than a human sneeze. The findings could inspire different ways to building robots that manipulate air to move or hold things.

Argonaut project launches design effort for super-cold robotics

A new robotics project named Argonaut at the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory will share that same name and spirit of adventure. Argonaut’s mission will be to monitor conditions within ultracold particle detectors by voyaging into a sea of liquid argon kept at minus-193 degrees Celsius — as cold as some of the moons of Saturn and Jupiter.

This system helps robots better navigate emergency rooms

Computer scientists at the University of California San Diego have developed a more accurate navigation system that will allow robots to better negotiate busy clinical environments in general and emergency departments more specifically. The researchers have also developed a dataset of open source videos to help train robotic navigation systems in the future. The team detail their findings in a paper for the International Conference on Robotics and Automation taking place May 30 to June 5 in Xi’an, China.

NAU mechanical engineers develop new high-performance artificial muscle technology

The study, led by professors Michael Shafer and Heidi Feigenbaum, demonstrates that ‘cavatappi’ artificial muscles, which are based on the shape of Italian pasta, exhibit specific work and power metrics 10 and five times higher than human skeletal muscles, respectively, and up to about 45 percent efficiency.

Nanotech scientists create world’s smallest origami bird

Cornell University researchers have created micron-sized shape memory actuators that enable atomically thin two-dimensional materials to fold themselves into 3D configurations. All they require is a quick jolt of voltage. And once the material is bent, it holds its shape – even after the voltage is removed.

SLU Receives $500,000 Grant to Create a Faculty Position in Robotics and Autonomous Systems for a New, Early-Career, Female Professor

Saint Louis University was awarded a $500,000 grant from the Clare Boothe Luce program of the Henry Luce Foundation to create a tenure-track assistant professor position in Robotics and Autonomous Systems for a new, early-career, female faculty member within Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology.

Robots sense human touch using camera and shadows

Cornell University researchers have created a low-cost method for soft, deformable robots to detect a range of physical interactions, from pats to punches to hugs, without relying on touch at all. Instead, a USB camera located inside the robot captures the shadow movements of hand gestures on the robot’s skin and classifies them with machine-learning software.

Chula Engineers Deliver “Pinto” Robots to COVID-19 Outbreak Areas Nationwide

The Faculty of Engineering and Chulalongkorn University Alumni Association dispatched 200 “Pinto” robots and over 1,000 “Mirror” long-distance communication systems to the areas affected by the new COVID-19 outbreak. Prof. Supot Teachavorasinskun, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, and Asst. Prof. Witaya Wannasuphoprasit, Director of the International School of Engineering and Head of the Robotics and Medical Support Equipment Team for COVID-19 pandemic (CURoboCOVID), joined the presentation ceremony on Monday, December 28, 2020, at the Engineering Centennial Memorial Building, Chulalongkorn University.

FAMU-FSU College of Engineering professor will teach robots concept of risk with Toyota grant

For Florida State University engineering professor Christian Hubicki, robots aren’t just a tool for the future. They’re a way to understand everything around us. Hubicki, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, will continue that quest thanks to a $750,000 Young Faculty Researcher grant from the Toyota Research Institute (TRI).

Fastener with Microscopic Mushroom Design Holds Promise

A Velcro-like fastener with a microscopic design that looks like tiny mushrooms could mean advances for everyday consumers and scientific fields. Currently available fasteners are called hook and loop fasteners and require harder, stiff material. In Biointerphases, researchers describe a design that can use softer materials and still be strong enough to work. The team believes a 3D mushroom design can be made with softer, more flexible materials and provide sufficient interlocking force on the fabric and hold strong.

Research News Tip Sheet: Story Ideas From Johns Hopkins Medicine

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Johns Hopkins Medicine Media Relations is focused on disseminating current, accurate and useful information to the public via the media. As part of that effort, we are distributing our “COVID-19 Tip Sheet: Story Ideas from Johns Hopkins” every other Tuesday.

Stretchable ‘skin’ sensor gives robots human sensation

Cornell University researchers have created a fiber-optic sensor that combines low-cost LEDs and dyes, resulting in a stretchable “skin” that detects deformations such as pressure, bending and strain. This sensor could give soft robotic systems – and anyone using augmented reality technology – the ability to feel the same rich, tactile sensations that mammals depend on to navigate the natural world.

Robotic Trunk Support Trainer Improves Upper Body Control of Children with Cerebral Palsy

Columbia Engineering researchers report their innovative robotic Trunk Support Trainer, when combined with active practice of postural movements, improves trunk and reaching control in CP children with impaired sitting control. TruST helps physical therapists to not only support the children in the region of the trunk where they suffer from weakness and incoordination but also challenge them to perform rehabilitation tasks outside their base of support to improve their movement and coordination.

This ‘squidbot’ jets around and takes pics of coral and fish

Engineers at the University of California San Diego have built a squid-like robot that can swim untethered, propelling itself by generating jets of water. The robot carries its own power source inside its body. It can also carry a sensor, such as a camera, for underwater exploration. The researchers detail their work in a recent issue of Bioinspiration and Biomimetics.

Material scientists learn how to make liquid crystal shape-shift

A new 3D-printing method will make it easier to manufacture and control the shape of soft robots, artificial muscles and wearable devices. By controlling the printing temperature of liquid crystal elastomer, researchers have shown they can control the material’s stiffness and ability to contract.

Virtual Trimble Lecture Series Features Spies, Kings, Robots, Fake News

A new Lyne Starling Trimble Science Heritage Public Lecture Series begins with six speakers, who are scheduled for online talks in late 2020-early 2021. The first lecture in the series will be held Sept. 30 and will be streamed online with an interactive question-and-answer period after the talk. During the series, science historians and writers will highlight important roles science has played in modern society, including in robotic development, WWII espionage, and technical accomplishments.

Robots to Help Children Touch the Outside World

A team of University of California researchers is working to improve telepresence robots and the algorithms that drive them to help children with disabilities stay connected to their classmates, teachers and communities. The effort is funded by a $1 million grant from the National Robotics Initiative at the National Science Foundation.

Plant scientists use robotics to study the interaction of heat stress responses in corn

A new study shows how two responses in separate locations inside plant cells work in concert to help corn plants respond to heat stress. The research was made possible by the Enviratron, an innovative plant sciences facility at Iowa State University that utilizes a robotic rover and highly controlled growth chambers.

Laser Inversion enables Multi-Materials 3D Printing

Selective laser sintering is one of the most widely used processes in additive manufacturing, but it is limited to printing with a single material at a time. Columbia engineers have used their expertise in robotics to develop a new approach to overcome this limitation: By inverting the laser so that it points upwards, they’ve invented a way to enable SLS to use—at the same time—multiple materials.

‘SlothBot in the Garden’ Demonstrates Hyper-Efficient Conservation Robot

For the next several months, visitors to the Atlanta Botanical Garden will be able to observe the testing of a new high-tech tool in the battle to save some of the world’s most endangered species. SlothBot, a slow-moving and energy-efficient robot that can linger in the trees to monitor animals, plants, and the environment below, will be tested near the Garden’s popular Canopy Walk.

These flexible feet help robots walk faster

Roboticists at the University of California San Diego have developed flexible feet that can help robots walk up to 40 percent faster on uneven terrain such as pebbles and wood chips. The work has applications for search-and-rescue missions as well as space exploration.

Making a Material World Better, Faster Now: Q&A With Materials Project Director Kristin Persson

Berkeley Lab’s Kristin Persson shares her thoughts on what inspired her to launch the Materials Project online database, the future of materials research and machine learning, and how she found her own way into a STEM career.

A Great New Way to Paint 3D-Printed Objects

Rutgers engineers have created a highly effective way to paint complex 3D-printed objects, such as lightweight frames for aircraft and biomedical stents, that could save manufacturers time and money and provide new opportunities to create “smart skins” for printed parts. The findings are published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Robot Uses Artificial Intelligence and Imaging to Draw Blood

Rutgers engineers have created a tabletop device that combines a robot, artificial intelligence and near-infrared and ultrasound imaging to draw blood or insert catheters to deliver fluids and drugs. Their research results, published in the journal Nature Machine Intelligence, suggest that autonomous systems like the image-guided robotic device could outperform people on some complex medical tasks.

New Robot Does Superior Job Sampling Blood

In the future, robots could take blood samples, benefiting patients and healthcare workers alike. A Rutgers-led team has created a blood-sampling robot that performed as well or better than people, according to the first human clinical trial of an automated blood drawing and testing device.

Rutgers Experts Available to Discuss How Robots Enable Chemical Exposure Assessment

New Brunswick, N.J. (Jan. 27, 2020) – Robots can be programmed to perform tasks such as painting to generate exposure data on potentially harmful contaminants, according to a study in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology that was co-led…

Spider-Man-Style Robotic Graspers Defy Gravity

Traditional methods of vacuum suction and previous vacuum suction devices cannot maintain suction on rough surfaces due to vacuum leakage, which leads to suction failure. Researchers Xin Li and Kaige Shi developed a zero-pressure difference method to enhance the development of vacuum suction units. Their method overcame leakage limitations by using a high-speed rotating water ring between the surface and suction cup to maintain the vacuum. They discuss their work in Physics of Fluids.