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Fiber optic sensors are being installed along all of Hong Kong's commuter rail lines (Phot...

A team from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University is to release details of a seven-year program to monitor a 36-km stretch of high-speed rail line using a series of special fiber optic sensors . According to a press release put out by the Optical Society, the system has detected "anomalous vibrations" on 30 occasions, allowing the early rectification of emerging problems that could conceivably have gone on to cause rail accidents.  Read More

Cars and lasers, together again (Photo: pop culture geek)

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques have come up with a car-mounted laser scanner the size of a shoe box, that can survey the contours of road surfaces at speeds of up to 100 km/h (62 mph). The system detects potholes and other road damage in need of repair. According to the Institute, the Pavement Profile Scanner (or PPS) has surveyed 15,000 km of road since mid-2012, in which time it has proven cheaper, faster and more accurate than existing systems which require hefty attachments to the carrier vehicle.  Read More

The SkySweeper robot that inches along a cable using a motorized pivoting 'elbow'

If you look up at a power line in a few years and see something skittering along the wires, it (hopefully) won't be a mutant crab monster, but a powerline inspection robot costing less than US$1,000. A prototype of such a robot, called SkySweeper, was presented this month at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Jacobs School of Engineering's Research Expo. The robot was built with off-the-shelf electronics and plastic parts printed on an inexpensive 3D printer.  Read More

Team of robots decoating a cargo plane

If you think stripping paint off an end table can be a messy, time consuming job, imagine removing paint and other coatings from an aircraft like the C-130 transport plane. Tasked with developing a robotic system that would take such a chore out of the hands of maintenance personnel, Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) and Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC) of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, developed a team of robots that gets the job done – using laser beams, no less.  Read More

The Lubricheck analyzes the capacitive and resistive properties of engine oil samples, to ...

Imagine if every time you bought a pair of socks, you automatically threw them out after six months, regardless of their condition. While you would certainly always have newer socks, you would also likely end up throwing away quite a few pairs that could have lasted a while longer. When it comes to changing the oil in our vehicles, most of us do take the “every X miles” approach, however, as there’s no easy way of telling if that oil really needs to be changed ... or is there? The designers of Lubricheck claim that their device will save money and minimize discarded oil, by analyzing samples of engine oil and letting drivers know if it’s still good.  Read More

The MAGDRIVE project is tasked with developing a touchless transmission

Satellites and other spacecraft, like most machines, have parts that move against one another. Unlike most machines, however, they operate in extremely cold conditions, their power source is often very limited, and lubricating or repairing them are not exactly easy tasks. It is for these reasons that researchers at Spain’s Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) are coordinating the three-year MAGDRIVE project – an international effort to create a mechanical transmission with no touching parts, that doesn’t need any lubrication.  Read More

Projectiondesign's FR12 projector has a lamp that can be located up to 30m from the projec...

Today’s projectors are great at bringing to life big screen movies in the home or creating large visual point-of-sale displays for the general public in retail environments. However, a couple of downsides to projectors are the noise the fans inside them make as they cool the lamp, and then there’s the difficulty in changing a blown lamp because of inaccessibility to the unit (which usually means balancing on a ladder with your head pressed against the ceiling. Norwegian projector manufacturer Projectiondesign has created the FR12 Remote Light Source (RLS) projector – launched at Integrated Systems Europe 2010 (Feb 2-4) - which relocates the lamp from the projector to a rack-mount enclosure up to 30m from the projector head. Light from the RLS illuminates the projector head via an innovative Liquid Light Guide (LLG) lead.  Read More

The FN Herstal Black Box can fit any weapon and provide useful information to the armed fo...

Weapons manufacturer FN Herstal has created a "Black Box" that detects, discriminates, counts shots, measures burst rates and burst lengths, records firing sequences and detects stoppages due to failures to cycle. Designed to fit any weapon type, the molded FN Black Box improves maintenance processes and can deliver critical information to mission commanders including, when coupled to a GPS, ID and location data.  Read More

Windows IceBox plugs into an USB port and freezes the data in your hard drive protecting i...

Almost every PC user knows about the importance of making regular data backups — often from their own, unfortunate personal experience. But, due to laziness and technical difficulties, only a small percentage of users actually performs regular maintenance other than updating antivirus software. The Windows IceBox is a convenient solution to this problem that plugs into your USB port and immediately freezes changes on your selected hard drive partitions, virtually eliminating the need for maintenance.  Read More

Dr Chan inspecting a small piece of the nanocomposite material.

One of the promising applications for the emerging field of nanotechnology is the monitoring of large-scale infrastructures, such as bridges. The latest foray into this field comes from the Queensland University of Technology's (QUT) School of Engineering – it is studying a new nanocomposite material that could improve the maintenance of large-scale infrastructure and provide early warning of any deterioration.  Read More

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