Dragonfly: The Mysterious Insect Driving Engineering Innovation

Who hasn’t dreamt of flying like a bird? From Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings of flying machines to Otto Lilienthal’s gliders, inventors have focused, quite logically, on human transport. We now take flying on airplanes for granted. But mechanical flight on a smaller, insect-level scale is less well-known. Micro-air vehicles (MAVs) have gained popularity in recent years due to wide range of small-scale applications in areas such as military, transportation, electronics, security systems, search and rescue missions, video recordings and many more. Successful prototypes depend upon valid, yet imaginative, designs as a starting point.  Continue reading

Aerospace at the Cutting Edge: From Drones to 3D Printing

commerical aircraft using ansysThe aircraft industry is an exciting place to be today. The media is full of the potential for commercial drone applications. But in the here and now we have large commercial aircraft on the market made from over 50% composite materials. These aircraft represent decades of innovation and will make a significant and positive impact on lifecycle cost of operation and the environment. You may recall that we recently shared a case study from Terrafugia where they discussed the integration of composite materials into the airframe of a car-come-aircraft. Along similar lines, EADS Innovation Works have shared details of their experiences with ANSYS composite material design tools. Continue reading

The Convergence of Drones and 3D Printing

images of dronesDrones have been in the news a lot recently. The near miss between a commercial flight and an unidentified drone in Florida has been broadcast around the world and has opened lots of questions about how the issue of drones in civilian airspace will be handled as the number of drones increases exponentially. This has spawned discussion regarding the safety of aircraft in the event of a collision with a drone. What is for certain is that the FAA have got their work cut out to ensure the safe management of the exponential growth of the drone phenomenon. Continue reading

Amazon Drones to Deliver Goods We Order Online

I knew it was just a matter of time before the technology took off. This week, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced that his online store is developing a drone-based delivery service.” The Amazon drones, called octopeters, are expected to deliver products to customers only a half-hour after they click the “buy” button.

This “science-fiction” approach to deliveries is still a few years away, but it’s no longer out of the range of possibilities. And won’t it be fun to watch a recently ordered item literally drop out of the sky?

The Amazon Drones

The Amazon drone is the size of a flat-screen monitor powered by electric motors. It follows GPS coordinates to drop items off at target locations. “The hard part here is putting in all the redundancy, all the reliability, all the systems you need to say, ‘Look, this thing can’t land on somebody’s head while they’re walking around their neighborhood,'” Bezos told CBS 60 Minutes.

xmobots SCADE controlAnd this is where ANSYS engineering simulation comes in. Today, product differentiation increasingly depends on embedded software, including complex control code and user-friendly human–machine interfaces — which in turn increases product complexity and risk. So the latest ANSYS capability optimizes embedded code. SCADE Suite offers the unique capability to graphically design, verify and automatically generate embedded software for smart product applications — like drones. Continue reading

This Week’s Top 5 Engineering Technology News Articles

Happy Friday, folks! This week we look the past, present and future of technology: a 61-year-old computer that has been brought back to life, tiny robots that play Beethoven and using embedded systems in smartphones to operate personal drone and a piece that highlights Pittsburgh’s future in supercomputing and modeling!


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