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Mechanical Engineering. 2006;128(07):26-33. doi:10.1115/1.2006-Jul-1.
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This article presents details of a research that aims to make automobile industry run more efficiently. In order to reduce mass, Toyota is looking for new, lighter materials to replace traditional ones of comparable strength. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is studying techniques to reduce the fuel burned for air conditioning of automobiles, and getting help from a dummy that sweats. The lab's heat test dummy is called ADAM (from ‘advanced automotive manikin’), a one-of-a-kind creation built by Measurement Technology Northwest in Seattle to the laboratory's specifications. The manikin communicates with a finite element analysis model of the human body developed by the lab using software from Ansys in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. The model predicts the body's response to its environment-skin temperatures, for instance, and other physiological information-and communicates it to the manikin, which can actually sweat. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado is winding up its work in a research project to develop hybrid technologies for heavy vehicles, especially the ones that spend much of the time running short distances between stops to deliver packages, to bus passengers, or to pick up the trash.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2006;128(07):34-37. doi:10.1115/1.2006-Jul-2.
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This article describes evolution of the hybrid cars involving an electrical outlet. The modifications made to the Prius at the Maker Faire take the hybrid concept to the next level. With an added battery back, new electronics, and a socket, the car becomes what is known as a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. The conversions performed by CalCars have involved installing either lead-acid or nickel-metal hydride battery packs in the rear compartments of stock Priuses. The engineering for these conversions has followed an open-source model, with the design being discussed and improved through collaboration with volunteers on an Internet message board. EDrive Systems, an automotive company based in southern California, and Hymotion, a Toronto-based automotive supply company, have unveiled full conversion kits, including auxiliary battery packs, electronics, and control systems. According to experts, with a Hymotion plug-in pack, a Prius can run as much as 30 miles on electricity alone.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2006;128(07):38-40. doi:10.1115/1.2006-JUL-3.
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A research group at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA, is at work on a scheme to devise robots that would evolve both their electronic brains and their bodies to meet each user's prescribed needs. The robots would then build themselves by a rapid production method like 3D printing or rapid prototyping, a method of manufacturing objects, usually by depositing and curing successive layers of material. According to the researchers, the machines would not have to be built on an assembly line and thus have the potential to replicate exponentially, bringing down their production costs and making them more readily available. The research program at Brandeis is called the Genetically Organized Lifelike Electro Mechanic, or Golem, Project. A robot in the Golem Project starts out as a computer program. The software iterates its mechanism through matching parts, looking for the combination that will allow the robot to best move on its own for its intended application {CE: Please check whether this edit suits well for this sentence.}. The successful matches continue to mutate and improve. The computer search can be compared roughly to the process of natural selection.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2006;128(07):42-43. doi:10.1115/1.2006-JUL-4.
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This article discusses about latest developments in handling medical wastes. The article highlight features of Ecolotec, which is a large autoclave equipped with a system of blades to churn and chop the waste. The waste treatment system is in its final stages of testing and could be on the market soon. Currently, Ecolotec is studying blades of SAE 4140 chromium-molybdenum steel. The blades are sharpened daily with a belt sander, and the company may package one with the system when it reaches the market. Computer control is provided by an Allen-Bradley programmable logic controller (PLC) with a waterproof keyboard. The PLC has a wireless Internet card so, if a customer chooses, Ecolotec will be able to diagnose equipment from its headquarters. Ecolotec's executives say that, at an operating cost of 11 cents a pound, their machine costs considerably less than a waste disposal service.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2006;128(07):44-45. doi:10.1115/1.2006-JUL-5.
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This article presents the history of Alvin, the first US-built, manned deep-ocean submersible. The 42-year-old submersible, which is operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute is heading toward retirement. According to one of the expert, Alvin had one of its periodic overhauls recently; however, the craft cannot be upgraded to do much more than it does now. In its lifetime, the little submersible has located a lost hydrogen bomb in the Mediterranean Sea, explored deep-sea hydrothermal vents, surveyed and helped photograph the Titanic, and accidently gave scientists vital feedback about decay in the deep. Alvin has made more than 4000 dives. On a 1977 expedition, researchers aboard Alvin near the Galapagos Islands explored vents emitting superheated water at depths of 7000 feet. The lunches that spent the months in Alvin's hold remained strangely intact, including a barely decomposed bologna sandwich. This led researchers to the discovery that matter decomposed differently in the deep, which in turn gave conservationists arguments against dumping waste in the sea.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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