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Robotics & AI

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    Farmbot founder: Mr. Greenjeans with a pocket liner

     

    When Rory Aronson was studying mechanical engineering at California Polytechnic State University, he attended an elective course in organic agriculture where he learned about a tractor that used machine vision to detect and cover weeds, thus eliminating the need for herbicides or manual labor: the tractor cost over $1 million dollars.

    Inspired by a new vision for agriculture automation – and the DYI/Maker movement – Aronson published a white paper outlining the goals of a project to “Grow a community that produces free and open-source hardware plans, software, data, and documentation enabling everyone to build and operate a farming machine.”

    Aronson began working on the project full-time in 2014 thanks to funding from a grant from the Shuttleworth Foundation, aided by a firmware and software development team.

    Innovation

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      Discovery: bending semiconductors generates electricity

      Discovery: bending  semiconductors generates electricity

      In 1880 Jacques and Pierre (wife of Marie) Curie discovered that pressure generates electrical charges in some insulating crystals such as quartz and tourmaline, a phenomenon the researchers termed the”piezoelectric effect.” Later they noticed that electrical fields could deform piezoelectric materials. This effect is called the “inverse piezoelectric effect.”

      Now, in a recent development first reported in the journal Nature, a research team from the Institut Català de Nanociència i Nanotecnologia (ICN2) in Barcelona have discovered that semiconductor materials also generate electricity in response to bending, an effect the scientists termed “flexoelectric.” Such materials, they found can generate more charge than insulators, and, like the reverse piezo effect, electrical fields also deform “flexo” materials.

      The Energy Imperative

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        SiC technology shrinks charger 10x, cuts weight by 80%

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        Remember the “Little Box Challenge”?

        Sponsored by industry and IEEE, the Challenge spurred power and system design engineers to explore new and emerging wide-bandgap semiconductor materials like Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Gallium Nitride (GaN) to shrink the size, and boost the output of power inverters.

        Engineering teams from around the world rose to the challenge; one walked away with $1 million in prize money.

        The Connected Automobile

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          U.S. presses for safer autonomous vehicle technology

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          Autonomous vehicles have been involved in some serious road accidents recently, most newsworthy: two widely reported driver deaths earlier this year in technology-packed, auto-piloted Teslas.

          No technology is perfect, but, inexorably, improvements and refinements will follow, and the benefits of self-driving vehicles, especially when it come to improved safety, will outweigh the risks – in theory.

          Efficiency: The First Fuel

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            Solar inverter: Before and after GaN

            The inherent low switching losses of the GaN power stage make it possible to reach efficiencies of 99% and higher. Higher efficiencies mean smaller heat sinks and less need for cooling, and facilitate designs that are more compact and very cost-effective

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            Rethink your solar inverter with GaN – On the Grid – Blogs – TI E2E Community

             

            Solar inverter: Before and after GaN

            “PG&E has called a SmartDay event for Thursday, 07/28/2016 for your residence.

            Internet of Things

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              Keep the power on with the right battery holder design

              September 15, 2016

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              The tiniest parts in electronic systems need extra scrutiny these days.

              The reason is that the Internet of Things is creating important new uses for all kinds of small sub-assemblies, like the battery holders that house millions of coin-sized Li-Ion batteries packs in often-remote IoT network nodes everywhere.

              Until recently, these tiny assemblies went largely unnoticed, but today coin batteries are being used in everything from RFID tags, to toll tags, Bluetooth receivers, bank security tokens, and smart locks for hotels and home automation, where they provide critical power.

              Internet of Things

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                IoT, chip design services drive India technology acquisitions

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                The Internet of Things is a powerful driver of semiconductor and electronic design technology. It’s also a powerful business driver, which these days means consolidation, merger, and acquisition for many old-line, and new, chip makers.

                The same inexorable forces behind consolidation in the chip business are also at work in the third-party semiconductor and VLSI design sector – otherwise know as the design outsource business.

                Internet of Things

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                  When it comes to battery holder design, don’t just flip a coin

                  September 12, 2016

                  screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-1-44-57-pmElectronic design challenges come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors when it comes to the Internet of Things. That’s because end markets like security, surveillance, healthcare, transportation, and product safety, all have unique requirements for systems development.

                  Not all design challenges are this lofty however, but no matter. The art of design is about mastering detail, often to the nth degree, sometimes in strange places, often using new technology.