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Latest Robotics News


In a request for information released on July 6, the US Navy is seeking proposals for small and medium close-range armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). The Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane Division is eyeing potential procurement of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) UAVs that could carry small arms, rockets, grenades, and less-than-lethal weapons and devices.
The RFI states that the sought UAVs are those that are developed but not yet in production, but can reasonably be expected to be in the status of test-ready articles for comparative testing on or about April of 2019.

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BBC.com news reported on a new rover design that will fetch “bottled” rock samples from a collection unit for transport back to earth, where scientists will analyze the specimens. The European Space Agency (ESA) has issued requests for proposals (RFPs) for bidding by contractors on the robot rover. The project has multiple phases over several years and is jointly supported by the ESA and NASA. The sample return gear will be sent to Mars to collect the samples in 2026. "It will be a relatively small rover - about 130kg; but the requirements are very demanding," said Ben Boyes who will lead the feasibility team at Airbus.

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On June 18, David Place, CDR (Ret.) USN, moderated an MIT Enterprise Forum on the topic of drones (UAVs) at the Knobbe Martens law firm in San Diego. A distinguished panel of leading experts discussed drone applications from commercial, military and technical perspectives. Their comments on the latest developments in drone technology in San Diego are extraordinarily interesting.

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In a conventional Wankel engine, a delta-shaped piston with a triangular profile rotates in an “epitrochoid” (figure-8 shaped) combustion chamber. Historically, Wankel engines experienced significant temperature differences in adjacent parts of the engine, arguably a sign of somewhat inefficient fuel combustion.

The piston in the new LiquidPiston Wankel design takes on the epitrochoid shape, and three independent combustion chambers more evenly distribute combustion heat across the entire motor. These innovations increase engine efficiency. The new LiquidPiston Wankel configuration also has more efficient side-seals that reduce leakage where the rotating Wankel piston touches the walls of the combustion chamber. . LiquidPiston believes the new design will help manufacturers potentially double drone flight times.

LiquidPiston engineers hollowed out the inside of the rotary piston to introduce a new cooling system, and developed two versions: one water-cooled and the other, air-cooled. As the figure 8-shaped piston (see photos) rotates inside the engine, air or water is pumped through the rotary piston to evenly cool the system. Fins on the exterior of the engine case further cool the system by radiating heat into the air.

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France-based Parrot unveiled its new Anafi, a foldable drone you can carry in a coat pocket that it is based on a “wish list of user feedback and a biomimetic design inspired by insects.” The Anafi packs a 4K HDR videocam plus a 21-megapixel gimbal-mounted still camera. With a duration of about 25 minutes, the drone is quieter than previous models.

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