Rice University mechanical engineering students have built a prototype shoe fitting that generates enough energy to power portable electronics and recharge batteries.
The fitting, called PediPower, diverts the energy of heel strikes while walking, which would otherwise be lost into the ground, through a small gear system and generator. In bench tests, it delivered an average 400 milliwatts, enough to charge a battery or operate a cell phone. Their creation joins another body-powered generator developed by U.S. and Canadian scientists—a knee brace that can recharge up to 10 cell phones at once.
The Rice seniors hope their innovation will be improved upon by the next group taking it up to boost power output and decrease size. The goal is for the device to reliably produce enough energy to power artificial heart valves.
HT to Laughing Squid for spotting this one.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey released this dizziness-inducing video of construction workers installing the final section of spire atop One World Trade Center. Some seriously brave ironworkers erected the final piece of the building on May 10.
“Using a crane located high above street level, ironworkers lifted the final two pieces off a temporary work platform on the roof of One WTC and attached them to the previously installed 16 sections of spire,” the authority wrote on its Youtube post. “During the installation, ironworkers set and tightened 60 bolts at an altitude of 1,701 feet in the air.”
They report the building now stands at 1,776 feet high, making it the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and the third tallest in the world. Huzzah, engineering!
More and more, nature is becoming the wellspring from which engineers working on efficient robotic locomotion drink. Those creating machine flight are mimicking the action of bats, birds and insects. To overcome terrestrial obstacles, they are developing mechanical horses and canines. For the sea, they’re working on robotic jellyfish, rays and others.
One inspiration for future generations of agile robots is coming from an unlikely source: the tails of seahorses.
The marine creature’s prehensile appendage—capable of curling more than 360 degrees in on itself and gripping vegetation—displays unique mechanical properties that engineers at the University of California, San Diego, think could be the key to flexible, agile robots.
“The seahorse is an intriguing creature,” says Michael Porter, a UC San Diego materials science doctoral student who is leading the research. “We’re looking at this animal for both biological study and the engineering of materials.”