From wireless wallets to cloud-based services, app integration, digital health and fitness devices and beyond, the 2013 International CES® will feature an array of top consumer technology products and trends, including inspiring innovations across a range of hot products and categories. Owned and produced by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®, the 2013 CES, the world’s largest annual innovation event, will take place January 8-11, 2013, in Las Vegas.
“The 2013 International CES will showcase the latest innovations and trends that will capture the hearts and minds of consumers over the coming months and years,” said Karen Chupka, senior vice president, events and conferences, CEA. “More, our conference sessions cover the most important issues and trends across our industry, further cementing CES’ position as a can’t-miss event for industry professionals.”
The 2013 CES will draw 150,000 industry professionals to witness the next generation of consumer technology. More than 3,000 exhibitors will debut 20,000 new products across 1.8 million net square feet of exhibit space. In addition to hundreds of conference sessions covering top issues and trends crossing the full spectrum of the consumer technology and related industries, the 2013 CES experience will feature the following representative sampling of exhibitors, keynotes and TechZones.
For more information, visit: www.cesweb.org
Business leaders, space enthusiasts, students and the public are invited to attend NASA Technology Days. The free, three-day public technology showcase will take place at the Cleveland Public Auditorium and Conference Center Nov. 28-30. Participants from industry, academia and the U.S. Government will discuss strategy development, partnerships and methods to foster technology transfer and innovation.
The showcase will feature NASA-funded technologies available for transfer to the aerospace, advanced-energy, automotive, innovative manufacturing and human-health industries. The venue will provide opportunities for networking, business development and forging new relationships, including dialogue with NASA technology program leadership.
NASA officials will discuss the agency's upcoming technology initiatives, technology transfer and strategic partnerships. NASA centers also will provide exhibits and information on how businesses can partner with the agency for technology development, transfer and innovation. Attendees also can learn about leading technologies contributing to American economic growth and innovation.
NASA Technology Days is free and open to the public, but registration is required.
For more information or to register, visit: www.aiaa.org/nasatechdays
It is often the case with new military technologies that warfighters need to adjust to their equipment to access needed capabilities. As missions shift, however, and warfighters are required to work in smaller teams and access more remote locations, it is technology that must adapt if it is to remain useful. Desirable features for many new man-portable systems include small size, light weight, minimal power consumption, low cost, ease of use, multi-functionality and, to the extent possible, network friendliness.
DARPA created the Pixel Network for Dynamic Visualization program, or PIXNET, to apply these features to the cameras and sensors used by dismounted warfighters and small combat units for battlefield awareness and threat detection and identification. PIXNET aims to develop helmet-mounted and clip-on camera systems that combine visible, near infrared, and infrared sensors into one system and aggregate the outputs. PIXNET technology would ingest the most useful data points from each component sensor and fuse them into a common, information-rich image that can be viewed on the warfighter’s heads-up display, and potentially be shared across units.
The base technologies DARPA proposes to use already exist and are currently used by warfighters. However, these devices typically have dedicated functionality, operate independently of one another and provide value only to the immediate operator. Through PIXNET, DARPA seeks to fuse the capabilities of these devices into a single multi-band system, thus alleviating physical overburdening of warfighters, and develop a tool that is network-ready, capable of sharing imagery with other warfighters.
“Existing sensor technologies are a good jumping-off point, but PIXNET will require innovations to combine reflective and thermal bands for maximum visibility during the day or night, and then package this technology for maximum portability. What we really need are breakthroughs in aperture design, focal plane arrays, electronics, packaging and materials science,” said Nibir Dhar, DARPA program manager for PIXNET. “Success will be measured as the minimization of size, weight, power and cost of the system and the maximization of functionality.”
To help boost processing power while minimizing size and energy use, PIXNET sensors will interface wirelessly with an Android-based smart phone for fusing images and for networking among units. Although the primary focus of PIXNET is on sensor development, proposers are instructed to develop whatever apps are necessary to achieve the desired functionality for phone and camera.
In addition to technological innovation, proposers are encouraged to develop plans for transitioning the low-cost camera system into manufacturing. In the case of the helmet-mounted system, DARPA’s preferred cost goal in a manufacturing environment producing 10,000 units per month is $3,300 per unit.
For more information, visit: www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=6bca8b710332b6467f92fcf717d68875&tab=core&_cview=0
DARPA’s Advanced Wide FOV Architectures for Image Reconstruction and Exploitation (AWARE) program is currently developing a gigapixel camera. As part of the program, DARPA successfully tested cameras with 1.4 and 0.96 gigapixel resolution at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, DC. The gigapixel cameras combine 100-150 small cameras with a spherical objective lens. Local aberration correction and focus in the small cameras enable extremely high resolution shots with smaller system volume and less distortion than traditional wide field lens systems. The DARPA effort hopes to produce resolution up to 10 and 50 gigapixels—much higher resolution than the human eye can see. Analogous to a parallel-processor supercomputer, the AWARE camera design uses parallel multi-scale micro cameras to form a wide field panoramic image.
The AWARE program is developing new approaches and advanced capabilities in imaging to support a variety of Department of Defense missions.
As part of the Obama Administration’s blueprint for an American economy built to last, the Energy Department today announced new investments that support American leadership and global competiveness in manufacturing. The Energy Department awarded more than $54 million – leveraging approximately an additional $17 million in cost share from the private sector – for 13 projects across the country to advance transformational technologies and materials that can help American manufacturers dramatically increase the energy efficiency of their operations and reduce costs. These projects will develop cutting-edge manufacturing tools, techniques, and processes that will be able to save companies money by reducing the energy needed to power their facilities. These projects are a part of the Administration’s strategy for investing in emerging technologies that create high-quality domestic manufacturing jobs and enhance the competitiveness of U.S. companies in today’s global markets.
“By investing in breakthrough technologies that can drastically reduce the amount of energy consumed during manufacturing, the Energy Department is supporting President Obama’s blueprint for an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, and skills for American workers,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “When it comes to clean energy, our motto should be: ‘Invented in America, made in America, and sold around the world.’ The projects announced today will improve the competitive position of U.S. industry and help manufacturers produce more while saving energy, saving money and protecting our air and water.”
As President Obama made clear in his State of the Union address, an economy built to last depends largely on American manufacturing and American energy. With sustained job growth for the first time since the 1990’s and the addition of nearly 500,000 jobs over a little more than two years, the American manufacturing sector has begun to rebound. At the same time, the U.S. reclaimed the position as the world’s leading investor in clean energy and has nearly doubled clean, renewable energy use in the country over the past few years. To continue this progress, President Obama has called on Congress to extend the clean energy manufacturing tax credits that have helped create jobs and maintain America’s competitive edge in this multi-trillion dollar global industry.
Today’s awards build on that foundation. Manufacturing is so central to the American economy that industrial processes consume about one-third of all energy produced in the United States, representing a huge opportunity to boost American competitiveness through advances in energy-saving technologies.
From improving manufacturing processes that reduce the energy needed to make components for aircraft and vehicles, to lowering the production costs of carbon fiber for a wide range of clean energy products, these projects represent a major investment in the solutions that will transform energy-intensive manufacturing technologies and materials used by industry here in the U.S. The results of these projects could produce large improvements in energy productivity, reduce pollution, and boost product output, while creating jobs and helping American companies expand export opportunities globally.
Each project will advance technologies early enough in their development cycles to permit the full scope of their technical benefits to be shared across a broad cross-section of the domestic economy. Collectively, these projects are part of the Obama Administration’s effort to support the creation of good jobs by helping U.S. manufacturers reduce costs, improve quality, and accelerate product development. By strengthening the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing, these projects will help lay a foundation for an American economy built to last.
The projects selected for awards include:
A full list of project descriptions, visit: www.eere.energy.gov/pdfs/imi_project_descriptions.pdf
Warfighters who encounter enemy forces on the ground benefit from overhead aircraft support. Some capabilities are lost, however, when cloud-cover obscures the view. Typically, airborne weapon systems that use electro-optic (EO) sensors during support missions can’t “see” through clouds. DARPA’s Video Synthetic Aperture Radar (ViSAR) program seeks to develop and demonstrate an Extremely High Frequency (EHF) targeting sensor which operates through clouds as effectively as today’s infrared (IR) sensors operate in clear weather.
“The goal is a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) that provides high-resolution, full-motion video to engage maneuvering ground targets through clouds or in the clear, without having to change tactics, techniques and procedures,” said Bruce Wallace, DARPA program manager. “Ultimately, we intend to demonstrate a cloud-penetrating EHF sensor in a moveable gimbal that could be mounted on a variety of aerial platforms.”
DARPA seeks technology proposals in flight-worthy electronics, including power amplifiers and integrated receiver and exciters that are small enough to fit easily aboard aircraft. Another key proposal area is the development of new algorithms which could exploit the features of this sensor technology.
“We’re looking for proposers with advanced expertise in scene simulation software to simulate realistic synthetic EHF radar data sets,” Wallace said. “We anticipate that the system developer will use these raw data sets to test image formation, autofocus, detection and geolocation algorithms.”
The ViSAR system expects to create SAR images of the background at frame rates greater than currently available. In addition, the system should have Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) capability to detect moving targets and reposition their returns in the correct location within the scene. The GMTI processing is done in parallel with SAR processing.
For more information, visit: https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&;mode=form&id=a8e8cba76bd5e6e1d5bd2f9370c8c1b4&tab=core&_cview=0
EON Reality, the world's leading interactive 3D software provider, today announced the release of the new EON Icube Mobile, a portable multi-sided immersive environment in which participants are completely surrounded by virtual imagery and sound. It offers the most user-friendly interface - from hardware setup to software deployment. This high impact 3D immersion solution benefits many different markets such as energy, aerospace, healthcare, AEC, education and entertainment.
The hardware construction truss frame is in a lightweight sturdy aluminum material that is easy to set up and it comes with a reusable shipping container for easy transport. It is a front projected system consisting of 120” Diagonal Size Screens with 4:3 aspect ratios. Ceiling height required is 9 feet (2.7 m) and display foot print required is 10 x 10 feet (3 x 3 m). The system cost starts at less than 30% compared to traditional Icube cost.
“For the first time ever we can offer a fully immersive motion tracked interactive 3D experience at about 1/3 of the cost compared to traditional Icubes while at the same time taking up roughly 1/5th of the floor space and fitting within a 9 foot ceiling height. This combination will allow full immersion to be used in areas and applications that we have never reached before,” said Mats W. Johansson, President, EON Reality, Inc.
EON Icube software utilizes high-end active stereo projectors, with stereoscopic glasses and motion tracking position trackers and allows users to be completely immersed in a virtual world. 3D objects float in space with high quality graphics and can be manipulated by users in real-time.
Motion trackers are implemented to monitor the user’s position and orientation and are used to calculate a stereoscopic perspective view. This allows the user to freely move into and around floating objects. Peripheral devices, such as wands and optional gesture gloves, are integrated into the system. EON Icube software has the ability to rapidly deploy 3D interactive virtual simulations using a series of built-in classes of objects, drivers, and a large library of 3D models, textures, and easy to use built- in functionalities.
EON Icube Mobile can be used as a single or as multi-user experiences with EON Coliseum Icube option. The remote collaboration system option is ideal for safety and technical training, architecture, and construction purposes.
For more information, visit: www.eonreality.com/products_icube_mobile.html
For Icube videos, visit: www.youtube.com/user/EonReality/videos?query=icube
Recognizing that advancement in the way things are made is critical to the success of manufacturing, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) announces its 2012 list of Innovations That Could Change the Way You Manufacture.
Selected by SME’s Innovation Watch Committee, the new and emerging technologies on this list are already being used in manufacturing settings and have shown successful implementation. It is expected that many other manufacturers will see the value and will begin adopting these materials and processes into their products in the near future.
“Innovation keeps U.S. manufacturing strong. By constantly re-inventing itself, developing new materials, technologies and processes, manufacturing increases its productivity while creating products that enhance our lives,” said LaRoux Gillespie, 2012 president of the Society. “That is why SME is seeking out, acknowledging and sharing these innovations with the larger manufacturing community.”
The Innovations That Could Change the Way You Manufacture will be a featured session track at the SME Annual Conference scheduled June 3-5, 2012, in Cleveland. The conference brings together manufacturing professionals and leaders from throughout North America and beyond who are interested in innovations and exchanging ideas in one place.
2012 Innovations That Could Change the Way You Manufacture
In reviewing submissions for the Innovations That Could Change the Way You Manufacture, the committee also highlights an Innovation Watch List. These technologies are showing great promise but, as yet, are unproven in the manufacturing setting. This year’s list includes:
The vision of a vehicle interior without buttons and switches is becoming increasingly real. Visitors to NPE 2012, being held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, can stop by the ENGEL booth and sit in the driver’s seat of the future to experience the reality of cutting-edge automotive control functions. The NPE 2012 exhibit halls will be open to guests April 2-5, 2012. ENGEL North America will be located at Booth #943 in the West Hall of the convention center.
Activating control functions through the center console of the simulation cell is as simple as lightly touching one of the functional elements of the completely enclosed surface. Thanks to ENGEL clearmelt technology and the integration of a capacitive foil using in-mold labeling, vehicle controls will be just as elegant as smartphone controls in the future.
"This trend not only gives automotive interior designers a new level of freedom, it also reduces the cost of producing functional elements," stresses Mark Sankovitch, President of ENGEL North America. "We are already talking to various OEMs and automotive companies. In four to five years, the first vehicles will be equipped with this sensitive surface technology," adds Franz Füreder, head of ENGEL Automotive at ENGEL Headquarters in Schwertberg, Austria.
ENGEL is presenting this exhibit in cooperation with various system partners. Magna Exterior & Interior Systems from Munich, Germany is supporting the processing technology side of the project.
ENGEL duo range expanded
At NPE, an ENGEL duo 350 injection molding machine will be producing the piano black center consoles. This is the first showing of this new machine size in North America, which brings the power of the duo large-scale machines – maximum power on a small footprint – to the lower clamping force range.
Using spin-stack technology, the thermoplastic center console top carrier made of ABS-PC is injected while the pre-molded part created in the previous cycle is overmolded with polyurethane in the second half of the mold. This process is based on the ENGEL combi M method but with a polyurethane system connected to the mold, instead of a second injection unit. The capacitive foil is insert-placed into the mold before injecting the first component. ENGEL viper 20 and ENGEL viper 40 linear robots take care of component and part handling.
In the ENGEL clearmelt process, the layer of PUR fulfills multiple functions at the same time. The primary task is that of protecting the part's class A surface against chemical and mechanical exposure. The coating's excellent degree of glossiness and the 3-D effect that it creates provides added value to the part's appearance.
Servohydraulics save costs
This exhibit not only has a high level of technology but it is also extremely energy efficient in its operation. The ENGEL duo machine is equipped with the servohydraulic ENGEL ecodrive which reduces energy loss to such an extent that hydraulic machines can achieve consumption values that can compete with fully electric machines. The key to this impressive level of efficiency lies in reducing loss of energy through the full molding cycle. While the machine is idle during cooling phases, for example, no energy is consumed. Additionally, ecodrive reduces – and in some cases even eliminates -- the requirement for oil cooling. With most hydraulic machines, the supplied electrical energy not used for various machine movements in the form of kinetic energy is usually converted into heat, and this heat energy is supplied to the hydraulic oil. Therefore, a key indicator of energy efficiency in hydraulic machines is the oil temperature.
Complimentary seminar during NPE
ENGEL in Florida with a total of seven manufacturing cells
ENGEL will prove its great system-solution competence at the NPE 2012 with a total of seven highly-integrated and automated manufacturing cells, demonstrating a wide range of applications. Apart from the automotive industry, ENGEL will have exhibits that focus on the Packaging, Medical, and Technical Molding, industries. “At ENGEL it’s not just about equipment,” says Mark Sankovitch. “It’s about helping our customers bring their ideas to life – discovering new approaches, engineering innovations, developing new process technologies. By doing so, it is possible to achieve long-term cost advantages and to increase competitiveness.”
NASA's Spinoff 2011 publication, now available online, reveals how the space agency's ingenuity and partnerships have saved thousands of lives, generated billions of dollars, and created thousands of American jobs.
The latest edition of Spinoff records 44 journeys of NASA's most innovative technologies. It chronicles their origins in NASA missions and programs and their transfer to the public in the form of practical commercial products and benefits to society.
"This year's Spinoff demonstrates once again how through productive and innovative partnerships, NASA's aerospace research brings real returns to the American people in the form of tangible products, services and new jobs," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "For 35 years, Spinoff has been the definitive resource for those who want to learn how space exploration benefits life on Earth."
NASA spinoffs have proven benefits in health and medicine, transportation, public safety, consumer goods, energy and the environment, information technology, and industrial productivity, stimulating the economy and creating new jobs and businesses.
In Spinoff 2011, readers can discover:
This year's Spinoff includes a special section to celebrate the commercial technologies that resulted from NASA's 30-year Space Shuttle Program. Also featured are spinoffs that have come from the construction of the International Space Station and work aboard the orbiting outpost. An additional section discusses the potential benefits of NASA's future technology investments.
"NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist has more than a thousand projects underway that will create new knowledge and capabilities, enabling NASA's future missions," NASA Chief Technologist Mason Peck said. "As these investments mature, we can expect new, exciting spinoff technologies transferring from NASA to the marketplace, providing real returns on our investments in innovation."
Spinoff 2011 includes features about NASA's aeronautics and space research; award-winning technologies; diverse partnerships; and support for science, technology, engineering, and math education. The publication also provides reference and resource information about NASA.
An archive of Spinoff features and a searchable database of more than 1,750 NASA-derived technologies featured in past issues of the publication also are available at the Spinoff site.
For more information, visit: spinoff.nasa.gov
Objet ltd., the innovation leader in 3D printing for rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing, announced today that its Objet30 Desktop 3D Printer was filmed for brand new Channel 4 series, Home of the Future.
What happens if you ask a normal family to boldly go where no-one has gone before - to live in the future? This five-part Channel 4 series, co-funded by one of the UK's leading energy companies E.ON, and produced by Twofour, transforms the lives of a family, filling their home from top-to-bottom with forefront technology and gadgets.
As well as having cutting-edge technology and gadgets to play with, the Perera family in Sheffield will be challenged by scenarios likely to come in the next twenty to fifty years.
Overseen by expert Chris Sanderson, the Pereras will discover how we may work, rest and play - as well as eat, travel, stay healthy and power our homes.
"The highlight, for me, was the moment the 3D printer arrived," says Sanderson. "It was hugely exciting to be able to design an object and see it being made in front of your eyes."
In an episode looking at home offices, the Perera family use the Objet30 Desktop to produce 3D printed pens.
The series looks at the effects of working from home and living in multi-generational households and asks: what will we eat when cheap food is gone and mass-produced meat is unsustainable? And the family face being shamed by their bin if they don't recycle enough and being temporarily banned from short car journeys (electric and hydrogen-powered, naturally).
But the future is not all bad news as the Pereras discover mind-controlled games, domestic power stations that slash their bills, robots they can control from the other side of the world, waterless washing machines, cars, lawnmowers and vacuums that drive themselves and the joys of growing your own fish supper.
The second episode of Home of the Future airs on February 19th, 7.00pm on Channel 4.
For more information, visit: www.channel4.com/programmes/home-of-the-future/4od#3290489
NASA officials will meet with aeronautics industry, academia and government leaders Feb. 21-22 for the second in a series of roundtable discussions about future directions for aeronautics research and technology.
The Aeronautics Research and Technology Roundtable is sponsored by NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate in Washington and organized by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering.
The 25-member panel includes a broad range of executives, entrepreneurs and experts representing airframe and engine manufacturers, general aviation companies, academia, industry associations and other federal agencies. Its purpose is to facilitate candid dialogue among participants, to foster greater partnership among the NASA-related aeronautics community, and, where appropriate, carry awareness of issues to the wider public.
"We are grateful to the National Research Council for helping us expand our communication with our colleagues in industry," said Jaiwon Shin, NASA's associate administrator for aeronautics research. "The Aeronautics Research and Technology Roundtable has provided an excellent forum for us to exchange ideas, explore research concepts, and discuss more vigorous public-private collaboration outside the competitive arena."
The two-day meeting will be conducted by the National Research Council's Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board and will be held at the National Academies' Keck Building at 500 Fifth St. NW in Washington.
On the first day, roundtable members will participate in separate discussions on issues of interest to four aviation sectors. General aviation and commercial aviation will be the subjects of concurrent sessions from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EST. Vertical lift and unmanned aircraft systems will be featured in concurrent sessions from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST. On the second day, roundtable members will gather from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST for a plenary session featuring reports from the previous day's discussions.
Discussion topics were identified at the first roundtable meeting in August 2011. Four teleconferences, organized by sector, were conducted in December 2011. A third roundtable meeting is anticipated later this year.
NASA has a long history of aeronautics research for public benefit. Through scientific study, NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate works to find practical solutions to the problems of flight. In the past six years, the directorate has revitalized its aeronautics research investment portfolio with a back-to-basics philosophy balanced by a growing portfolio of systems-level research efforts that ensures excellence in broad-based fundamental research with robust mechanisms for community participation.
For more information, visit: sites.nationalacademies.org/DEPS/ASEB/DEPS_061276
An Autodesk software technology makeover for AutoCAD® customers using outdated software and hardware is ready to help small businesses gain or enhance competitive advantage. A new contest will award up to five Lenovo® ThinkStation® workstations together with five licenses of the Autodesk® Design Suite software of the winner’s choice. This contest is open to current AutoCAD small business customers (using version 2008 or earlier) based in the United States and Canada (with the exception of Quebec and Puerto Rico) employing 300 people or less.
One Grand Prize:
• The winner’s choice of up to five commercial licenses of Autodesk Design Suite software (not to exceed the total number of eligible noncurrent Autodesk software licenses held by the contest winner). Winner may choose from Autodesk® Building Design Suite, Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suite, Autodesk® Factory Design Suite, Autodesk® Design Suite, Autodesk® Infrastructure Design Suite, Autodesk® Plant Design Suite and Autodesk® Product Design Suite.
• Up to five Lenovo E30 ThinkStations, each with 22-inch LCD monitor (not to exceed the total number of software licenses awarded).
Four First Place Prizes:
• The winner’s choice of one commercial license of Autodesk Design Suite software.
• One Lenovo E30 ThinkStation with 22-inch LCD monitor.
Tell us why your company needs a technology makeover by completing the entry form on the AutoCAD Facebook page. Contestants can also submit photos and video for consideration.
All approved entries will be displayed on the AutoCAD Facebook page, to be viewed and voted on by AutoCAD Facebook fans. Ten finalists will be determined by fan votes. Winners will be chosen by Autodesk.
Submissions being accepted through February 23, 2012. The final winners will be announced through a live event on the AutoCAD Facebook page on March 22, 2012.
For official contest rules, visit: www.autodesk.com/techmakeover
NASA's Space Technology Program is looking for far-out ideas. The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts, or NIAC, program is seeking proposals for revolutionary concepts with the potential to transform future aerospace missions. Proposed concepts should enable new capabilities or significantly alter current approaches to launching, building and operating space systems.
NIAC projects are chosen for their innovative and visionary characteristics, technical substance, and early development stage -- ten years or more from use on a mission. NIAC's current portfolio of diverse and innovative ideas represents multiple technology areas, including power, propulsion, structures and avionics.
"NIAC is a forward-looking program that captures what's great about America's space program," said Michael Gazarik, director of NASA's Space Technology Program at the agency's headquarters in Washington. "NASA is looking for futuristic concepts that may enable leaps forward in how we work in and explore the space frontier. Equally important, we're asking for ideas from all sources: American citizen-inventors or educators working out of their garage to the visionary small business owners fueling our nation's economy."
This second call for proposals follows last summer's inaugural selection of Phase I concepts, which are now under study. Due to the tremendous response and large number of submissions received from last year's NIAC call for proposals, this year's Phase I solicitation will incorporate a two-step process.
NIAC will accept short proposals, limited to two pages in length, until Feb. 9. After review, NASA will invite those whose concepts are of interest to the agency to submit a full proposal of no more than ten pages. Full proposals will be due April 16.
NASA expects to fund approximately 15 proposals in this year's Phase I process. Those selected will receive up to $100,000 for one year to advance the innovative space technology concept and help NASA meet current operational and future mission requirements. Selection announcements are expected this summer. The solicitation is open to all U.S. citizens and researchers working in the United States, including NASA civil servants.
The number of awards will depend on the strength of proposals and availability of appropriated funds. The number of Phase I awards also will be balanced with NASA's selection of Phase II awards. Phase II awards will be selected from Phase I concepts submitted last year that the agency decides to advance.
Past NIAC Phase I proposals have included a broad range of imaginative and creative ideas, including: changing the course of dangerous orbital debris; a spacesuit that uses flywheels to stabilize and assist astronauts as they work in microgravity; the use of 3-dimensional printing to create a planetary outpost; microbial fuel cell technology for powering tiny robot explorers; and other innovative propulsion and power concepts needed for future space mission operations.
NASA's early investment and partnership with creative scientists, engineers and citizen inventors will pay huge technological dividends and help maintain America's leadership in the global technology economy.
For more information, visit: www.nasa.gov/offices/oct/early_stage_innovation/niac
Tiny aerial vehicles are being developed with innovative flapping wings based on those of real-life insects.
Incorporating micro-cameras, these revolutionary insect-size vehicles will be suitable for many different purposes ranging from helping in emergency situations considered too dangerous for people to enter, to covert military surveillance missions.
Supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, world-leading research at the University of Oxford is playing a key role in the vehicles' development.
Dr Richard Bomphrey, from the Department of Zoology, is leading this research, which is generating new insight into how insect wings have evolved over the last 350 million years. "Nature has solved the problem of how to design miniature flying machines," he says. "By learning those lessons, our findings will make it possible to aerodynamically engineer a new breed of surveillance vehicles that, because they're as small as insects and also fly like them, completely blend into their surroundings."
Currently the smallest of state-of-the-art fixed-wing unmanned surveillance vehicles are around a foot wide. The incorporation of flapping wings is the secret to making the new designs so small. To achieve flight, any object requires a combination of thrust and lift. In manmade aircraft, two separate devices are needed to generate these (i.e. engines provide thrust and wings provide lift), this limits the scope for miniaturising flying machines.
But an insect's flapping wings combine both thrust and lift. If manmade vehicles could emulate this more efficient approach, it would be possible to scale down flying machines to much smaller dimensions than is currently possible.
"This will require a much more detailed understanding than we currently have of how insect wings have evolved, and specifically of how different types of insect wing have evolved for different purposes," Dr Bomphrey says. "For instance, bees are load-lifters, a predator such as a dragonfly is fast and manoeuvrable, and creatures like locusts have to range over vast distances. Investigating the differences between insect wing designs is a key focus of our work. These ecological differences have led to a variety of wing designs depending on the task needing to be performed. It means that new vehicles could be customised to suit particular uses ranging from exploring hostile terrain, collapsed buildings or chemical spills to providing enhanced TV coverage of sports and other events".
Dr Bomphrey and his team lead the world in their use of both cutting-edge computer modelling capabilities and the latest high-speed, high-resolution camera technology to investigate insect wing design and performance.
Key to the work is the calculation of air flow velocities around insect wings. This is achieved by placing insects in a wind tunnel, seeding the air with a light fog and illuminating the particles with pulsing laser light - using a technique called Particle Image Velocimetry.
The team's groundbreaking work has attracted the attention of NATO, the US Air Force and the European Office of Aerospace Research and Development. The research is expected to produce findings that can be utilised by the defence industry within 3-5 years, leading to the development and widespread deployment of insect-sized flying machines within 20 years.
"This is just one more example of how we can learn important lessons from nature," says Dr Bomphrey. "Tiny flying machines could provide the perfect way of exploring all kinds of dark, dangerous and dirty places."
Dr Bomphrey is using his EPSRC-funded Fellowship to pursue this research. The fundamental aim of the work is to explore how natural selection has impacted on the design of insect wings and how these designs have been affected by the laws of aerodynamics and other physical constraints. "Evolution hasn't settled on a single type of insect wing design," says Dr Bomphrey. "We aim to understand how natural selection led to this situation. But we also want to explore how manmade vehicles could transcend the constraints imposed by nature."
EPSRC is the main UK government agency for funding research and training in engineering and the physical sciences, investing more than £850 million a year in a broad range of subjects - from mathematics to materials science, and from information technology to structural engineering.
For more information, visit: www.epsrc.ac.uk