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A cyclocopter is a weird sort of aircraft that uses airfoils rotating around a horizontal axis to generate lift and thrust. The concept was developed about a century ago, but these things are tricky to build and fly, so they haven’t, taken off as much as helicopters have. In fact, there’s only a small handful of research groups working on cyclocopters at all, and at the moment, they’re focusing on small scales. Professor Moble Benedict and graduate students Carl Runco and David Coleman at Texas A&M’s Advanced Vertical Flight Laboratory has been testing the smallest cyclocopter ever developed: It’s just 29 grams in mass, and could be a tiny step towards replacing helicopters and multirotors with something better.

A single cycloidal rotor, or cyclorotor, consists of multiple airfoils attached to a frame that turns around in a circle very fast. The airfoils produce lift and thrust as they move through the air, and because each blade can pivot, that thrust that can be directed in any direction perpendicular to the cyclorotor. Or, as Benedict explains, “With the blades cyclically pitched such that each blade has a positive geometric angle of attack at the top and bottom of the circular trajectory, a net thrust is produced.” The thrust vectoring is instant, making the cyclocopter very maneuverable, and (among other advantages) the vehicle can transition from, say, stable hovering to high-speed forward flight without needing to pitch itself over like a helicopter or multirotor aircraft. The little rotor on the back stabilizes the pitch.

Benedict has been working on cyclocopters for years; we wrote about a quad-cyclocopter that he developed at the University of Maryland a while back. That was, in fact, the first successful flight test of a cycloidal-rotor based aircraft and along with Dr. Benedict, other people involved in that effort were Elena Shrestha, Dr. Vikram Hrishikeshavan and Dr. Inderjit Chopra. At 800 grams, it wasn’t what you’d call large, but cyclocopters get particularly interesting at very small scales because of their combination of very high maneuverability and potential for excellent efficiency. They’re also more stable, more space efficient, and they’re theoretically quieter and capable of a higher top speed than helicopters are.

Ms. A. Sherin Nimila, III ECE


Until now the hardest known material is DIAMOND which is an allotrope of carbon. The known traditional lightest material is STRYOFOAM.A material which is 100 times stronger and lightest than stryofoam is GRAPHENE. Graphene is also an allotrope of carbon which has honeycomb,2-Dimensional structure, indefinitely large aromatic molecule the ultimate case of family of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. One of the interesting properties of graphene has paved the way for this high-tech invention to use graphene in the field of optical electronics.

Optical Electronics

One particular area in which we will soon begin to see graphene used on a commercial scale is that in optoelectronics; specifically touchscreens, liquid crystal displays (LCD) and organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs). For a material to be able to be used in optoelectronic applications, it must be able to transmit more than 90% of light and also offer electrical conductive properties exceeding 1 x 106 Ω1m1 and therefore low electrical resistance. Graphene is an almost completely transparent material and is able to optically transmit up to 97.7% of light. It is also highly conductive, as we have previously mentioned and so it would work very well in optoelectronic applications such as LCD touchscreens for smartphones, tablet and desktop computers and televisions.

Currently the most widely used material is indium tin oxide (ITO), and the development of manufacture of ITO over the last few decades time has resulted in a material that is able to perform very well in this application. However, recent tests have shown that graphene is potentially able to match the properties of ITO, even in current (relatively under-developed) states. Also, it has recently been shown that the optical absorption of graphene can be changed by adjusting the Fermi level. While this does not sound like much of an improvement over ITO, graphene displays additional properties which can enable very clever technology to be developed in optoelectronics by replacing the ITO with graphene. The fact that high quality graphene has a very high tensile strength, and is flexible (with a bending radius of less than the required 5-10mm for rollable e-paper), makes it almost inevitable that it will soon become utilized in these aforementioned applications.In terms of potential real-world electronic applications we can eventually expect to see such devices as graphene based e-paper with the ability to display interactive and updatable information and flexible electronic devices including portable computers and televisions.

Ms. Pravarthana.P, II ECE


Insurance companies are implementing smartbox technology so good drivers can benefit from cheap insurance rates.

The smartbox, similar to a black box for airplanes, records details about how your car is driven, which can result in cheap car insurance for responsible drivers.

The device is connected to the electronics in your car and collects a wide criteria of information such as time, speed, braking, cornering, acceleration and location.

The smartbox data is wireless transferred in real time to the insurance company and provides a profile of when, where and how you drive. This profile is then used to compare insurance rates and to reward low-risk driving behaviour with cheap insurance rates.

Drivers are high-risk when they drive irresponsibly such as speeding, frequent lane changing, driving in high-risk locations or at high-risk times such as in heavy traffic or late at night.

These new electronic inventions are intended to replace the standard practice of categorizing drivers into group behaviour to determine insurance coverage and premium payments.

For example, young drivers are more likely to drive fast, drive at night. and use a cell phone while driving. Statistically, young drivers are more likely to cause an accident so insurance companies charge them higher rates to cover the costs of accident claims.

So even if you're a young, responsible driver, you will pay high insurance rates because of group behaviour.

This technology allows you to provide proof that your driving behaviour doesn't fit the pattern of your demographic group.

All the information collected about your driving can be viewed online - including what you're doing well and what could be improved. Your insurance premium is then calculated according to your driving profile.

Ms. Subashree.S , III ECE

SMART WATCH (charge itself using heat from your skin)

I actually like tracking my steps, but I’m not wearing my Fitbit right now because I’ve forgotten to charge it too many times over the past couple of months, blowing my step average and my motivation to quantify myself. Thermoelectric devices harvest energy using a temperature difference between their two sides to generate a voltage.

Matrix launched what it calls a thermoelectric-powered smart watch—and I call a fitness tracker—on Indiegogo today. The US $100 gadget—which has a step counter, calories-expended counter, a sleep monitor, and yes, a watch that tells time—is a little too clunky for me, and will likely only appeal to the “gotta have the cool gadget” early adopter who can show off the self-powering feature to his friends.

But that’s probably okay. Because, while I’m sure Matrix would love to sell a bunch of these gadgets, that’s really not its main goal. The company really just wants to convince other gadget makers to embrace its thermoelectric technology.

“We see ourselves as a thermal energy harvesting company,” Anne Ruminski, Matrix’s head of engineering told me, not a watch company. “We would like to see the technology be applied to other wearables, medical devices, and smart sensors.”

Boukai and Tham started working together on the technology in 2003, as graduate students at Cal Tech. They officially formed as Silicium Energy in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 2011, moving their operations to Silicon Valley in 2013. Silicium changed its name to Matrix this year.

Ruminski says the time is right for putting thermoelectrics into wearables. “We were surprised that, when we looked at applications for the technology, that everybody working with it was focused on putting it into cars, which isn’t feasible now. We were surprised nobody had put it into a watch.” Smart watches makes sense, because “the devices going into smart watches today use far less power than even just a couple of years ago.”

She would particularly love to see the technology migrate quickly into hearing aids. “A close relative wears hearing aids,” she says, “and it’s a pain for her to change the tiny batteries so often.”

The technology, Ruminski believes, is especially suited for implantables that sit just under the skin, like pacemakers. “They don’t require much power, and there is enough of a temperature gradient at the surface of the skin so it would work.”The company has filed patents in thermoelectrics and heat management. Figuring out how to shed heat so the cold side of the system doesn’t get too warm was a challenge, Ruminski says.

Ms. P.Varshini, III ECE


LA-based augmented reality company Daqri’s Smart Helmet gives workers additional layers of information about their surroundings. Intended to increase the productivity, efficiency, and safety, the helmet was specifically created for workers in industrial settings, such as oil rigs, water treatment plants along with manufacturing and construction sites. In other words, it can show the wearer stored information like safety guidelines and worker instructions.

It doubles as a hard hat and safety goggles making it ideal for working with heavy machinery or in technical fields. The headgear uses a combination of cameras and sensors to capture and record real-time information about the user’s surroundings, from valve readings to thermal data.

Moreover, to help to assess problems onsite and offsite, the helmet includes four cameras.

The device could be integrated with building information modeling (BIM) software. This could assist the users with explicit internal structural elements, such as the interior of a pipe.

The battery-operated design helps the helmet to work for longer hours. Moreover, the two USB ports help reduce the additional task of carrying extra things like flashlights or gas detectors, which can be attached to the helmet itself.

Ms.N.Swathi, III ECE


Move over, Arecibo. The title of “world’s largest single-dish radio telescope” now belongs to China’s Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST).

The telescope, which had its official launch on Sunday, has already received astrophysical signals, China’s press agency, Xinhua, reports. The almost 1.2-billion-yuan (US $180 million) project was spearheaded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Like the 305-meter-wide dish of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, FAST consists of a spherical reflector dish that collects radio signals and focuses them onto the receiver system suspended above it. But FAST, which was built in a natural hollow in southern Guizhou province, also boasts an active reflector surface: Triangular panels that make up its dish can be moved to form a smaller, transient reflector, in order to focus and target different locations on the sky.

Bo Peng et al, Proceedings of the IEEE (Volume: 97, Issue: 8, Aug. 2009) FAST’s dish can be deformed to target different areas of the sky. A subset of the mirror [left] can be used to create a parabolic surface [pink region, right].

According to the FAST site, the telescope will have double the raw sensitivity of the Arecibo Observatory. Among other things, it is expected to be able to hunt for the universe’s first stars, search for signals from an extraterrestrial intelligence, and enable the detection of new pulsars—the spinning remnants of dead stars—in our galaxy and others.

Ms. B.Hima Bindu, III ECE


Mitsubishi Electric is leading the project—dubbed Dynamic Map Planning—and is providing a new, compact version of its vehicle-mounted mobile mapping system.

The mobile mapping system (MMS) can be configured to take advantage of various combinations of lidar, cameras, and other sensors, along with a GPS antenna, depending on the application. The devices are assembled to form a single detachable unit designed for easy maintenance. The system, which can be mounted on even a compact car’s roof, draws power from the car’s cigarette lighter socket.

As the vehicle cruises at speeds of around 40 km an hour, the system uses a laser-scanning point cloud technique to gather 3D positioning data of roadside features such as traffic signals, road signage, and lane markings. It can capture objects up to 7 meters away with an absolute accuracy of 10 centimeters, according to Mitsubishi.

A point cloud is a collection of data points formed in space, the position of each point being identified by its X, Y, and Z coordinates. When light emitted by a laser scanner is reflected back from an object or surface, that information is recorded as a data point. Point cloud data alone would not be sufficient to identify objects clearly, so in post-processing, it is superimposed on synchronized camera images taken at the same time. This information-rich combination is then processed to create 3D maps. Color can also be added at this time.

With standard laser equipment, the Mitsubishi system collects 27,100 data points a second. With optional high-performance laser scanners, that number is raised to one million points a second. The mapping system can be equipped with long-range, high-density laser scanners that provide detailed images of cityscapes or roadside buildings.

To keep track of where these objects are in space, the system relies on GPS, an inertial measurement unit, and a wheel-mounted odometer to help calculate the position of the vehicle.

According to Mitsubishi, no specialist knowledge is required to operate the system or to run the post-processing software after the data is collected. The MMS 3D maps will provide such additional information as noise barriers, lane divisions and their widths and surface conditions, as well as the location of traffic lights, road signs and other useful information to help improve the safety of autonomous driving.

Ms. Subashree.S , III ECE