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Moon Express Hires NASA-mentored FIRST Robotics Champions to Develop Lunar Robots | SpaceRef

Moon Express Hires NASA-mentored FIRST Robotics Champions to Develop Lunar Robots | SpaceRef | Engineering | Scoop.it

Mountain View, CA (September 9, 2011) - Moon Express, a Google Lunar X PRIZE contender, announced today that it has established the "Moon Express Robotics Lab for Innovation" (MERLIN) and has hired a team of the nations' brightest engineering students who became international superstars through the FIRST Robotics Competition. MERLIN will develop robotic technology supporting the company's lunar exploration missions under the leadership of Marco Chacin, a graduate of the International Space University who holds a PhD in Aerospace Engineering and developed robotic solutions for the JAXA/ISAS "Hayabusa" asteroid sample return missions.


Via Stratocumulus
Trevor's insight:

My Goal 1-

In this article, the potential for clubs and engineering groups is shown through a robotic team who won a competition and was later hired by NASA.  A team of programmers were talented enough to be recognized and trained by NASA to develop machines and further our knowledge in technology.  This shows me the potential of joining groups, clubs, or teams of programmers to meet a common goal.  In college, it would be smart of me to go out and find groups of people who want to interact and participate in these types of competitions.  By doing so, I would learn from other talented programs and gain practice working in groups which is an extremely important skill in life.  This article has only encouraged me to become involved in activities such as this; groups become talented enough to be recognized nationally and assist our nation through their research.

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Electric cars without drivers: They can drive autonomously, park themselves and find a charging station

Electric cars without drivers: They can drive autonomously, park themselves and find a charging station | Engineering | Scoop.it

E-Mobile will park independently in the future and will also be able to find the next charging station without a driver. Researchers are working on electric cars that can travel short distances autonomously. On the basis of cost-effective sensors, they are developing a dynamic model that perceives the environmental situation.


Whoever got his driver’s license twenty years ago and is back in a car for the first time is going to be rubbing his eyes in amazement. Electronic helpers warn of a possible collision when parking and keep the necessary distance to the car ahead during traffic. There are lane departure, crosswind, blind spot and high beam assistants, not to mention the anti-lock system. The car is taking over step by step in the cockpit. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA are one step ahead: They are dedicated to automated driving and are working on the vehicles of tomorrow, which can drive through traffic without human assistance. In this process, the Stuttgart engineers are particularly keeping an eye on electric cars.

The specialty of the researchers at the IPA is the development of robots. In the institute building, there is a prototype that independently finds its way on its four wheels through unknown territory. The challenges that are to be mastered are similar to those for automated driving. Here, as well, sensors need to recognize the environment so that the vehicle can navigate around obstacles and find its goal. Why not take advantage of that experience and apply it to the car, say the engineers in Stuttgart. That is why, one and a half years ago, an interdisciplinary team of computer scientists, mathematicians, electrical engineers and mechatronics engineers launched the project Afkar (a German abbreviation for “autonomous driving and intelligent chassis concept for an all-electric vehicle”).

In a first step, the electric car is intended to learn to find a parking space and to park without a scratch. The idea behind this is that the car should be able to recharge itself with electricity without human help. This would be particularly important for car-sharing. Imagine the following scenario: The driver easily parks the car in a properly equipped parking garage on any randomly available parking space. The car takes care of everything else itself. It communicates via a wireless interface with the charging station and the parking garage management. In this process, it provides information about its charge level and its location. If the battery is empty and a charging station is free, it maneuvers in the corresponding parking bay and is charged inductively, without a cable. Then it makes room for the next electric car and rolls to a free parking space. In this way, the few existing charging stations can be used effectively.


“The technology needed for this scenario is already available,” says Afkar project manager Benjamin Maidel. He is referring to the robots of the institute that find their way easily in a known environment, such as a factory floor. Rebuilding a similar car does not take a lot of effort. Many modern cars already have most of the sensors that are required for this. The data that these devices collect just have to be combined and interpreted accordingly so that they provide a picture of the environment. The Fraunhofer experts are currently developing the necessary technology with the help of complex simulation programs. Soon, they want to test the results in practice on a demonstration vehicle.


The Afkar group will first go with their test car to a cordoned-off test area. For public roads, a special permit is required. “Whether autonomous driving makes a breakthrough will be decided, along with the right price, by customer acceptance and the legal framework. For example, the liability for accidents has to be re-regulated. The technology will probably conquer the market step by step”, says Maidel. The advantages are obvious – particularly for car-sharing vehicles. Any customer could use his smart phone to call a car, which would then drive to the desired location. Car-sharing companies could utilize their fleets more fully than they do today.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Trevor's insight:

My goal 1-

This article caught my eye because of the potential of self-driving electric cars.  For me to enter into this type of field would require an electrical and mechanical engineering degree.  The fact that technology is already advanced enough to develop such vehicles is such a crazy reality for me.  I am curious about how things work and this definitely attracts me because of its relevance to the world.  Engineers are already developing technology that allows for cars to be built, but there are still many other factors that are, currently, holding back the potential of these kinds of electric cars to become popular such as the cost and design.  Further research, however, will soon allow cars to be built efficiently at a reasonable price for the public.  I want to be a part of this design and research someday to help meet people’s needs.  Helping design or study technology that could alter how our world interacts is my dream job.  This article proves that there is so much that engineers are capable of: they can help shape lives, the economy, and the world.

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Chris Hill's curator insight, November 14, 2014 12:59 PM

 “Whether autonomous driving makes a breakthrough will be decided, along with the right price, by customer acceptance and the legal framework. " (from the article)

Rescooped by Trevor from @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy
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"Bilateral" adaptive cruise control could help reduce traffic jams | GizMag.com

"Bilateral" adaptive cruise control could help reduce traffic jams | GizMag.com | Engineering | Scoop.it

In 2007, mathematicians from the University of Exeter showed that the freeway traffic jams that appear to occur for no reason are actually the result of a "backward traveling wave" initiated when a driver slows below a critical speed. This sets off a chain reaction that ultimately results in traffic further down the line coming to a complete standstill. An MIT professor has now developed an algorithm that could be applied to a modified Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) system to help eliminate such traffic jams.

 

Last year, Honda announced plans to conduct public-road testing of technology that detects whether a person's driving style is likely to create traffic jams and encourages them to adopt a driving style that would avoid this. At the time, Honda said it would be possible to further improve this system by connecting it to cloud servers that would allow a vehicle's ACC system to automatically sync with the driving patterns of vehicles further up the road.

 

Berthold Horn, a professor in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, has come up with a somewhat similar approach that would also rely on a vehicle's ACC system, but without the need for the system to connect to the cloud. However, it would require current ACC systems, which only monitor the speed and distance of vehicles in front, to be modified to also take into account the speed and distance of the vehicle traveling directly behind.

 

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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
Trevor's insight:

My Goal 1-

This was such a fascinating article for me and gave me a good idea of how different types of engineering can work together.  To do such a job would require knowledge in electrical, mechanical, computer, and civil engineering.  Developing algorithms for reducing traffic jams to save people time and money is extremely interesting.  Studying road systems to develop a system in which a car would adjust its speed to keep traffic flowing is extremely useful and I see its applications every day; drivers being too cautious on the freeway has the potential to slow traffic for miles!  To develop such an algorithm would require lots of concrete math and equations.  Math is one of my favorite subjects which would help give me passion for a topic such as this, which would benefit society.  The possibilities after developing an Adaptive Cruise Control system are endless and this idea could be applied to other topics in the world.

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