160-MPH Electric Cars, Flame-Throwing Robots, Automated Air-Hockey, Oh My! Lots of Videos

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Along with our stop at Willow Garage on Monday, Bill Wong, Terry Knight and I stopped at Nuvation, an engineering services company I’d become aware of through the efforts of the folks at Maxim. Maxim’s ICs are used in the battery-management system for the E-REX plug-in race car, a electrification of Comnpagna Motors’ gas-powered T-REX. E-REX has turned in 160-mph top speeds at Laguna Seca, with measured 0-to-60 acceleration times on the order of 5 seconds. Nuvation uses the EV it to demonstrate its design capabilities, demonstrated in the Battery management system. Bill got the full story, on video from Nuvation CEO Michael Worry. The two Engineering TV videos, one on all of the car’s systems, the other specifically on battery management, are quite detailed. The URLs are http://www.engineeringtv.com/video/E-Rex-Three-Wheel-Electric-Vehi and http://www.engineeringtv.com/video/E-Rex-Battery-Management-System .

We got some other neat videos at Nuvation. Worry also demonstrated an air-hockey-playing robot arm that is almost unbeatable--what gives it its edge is the ability to read spin, and account for it in collisions. (This requires a piece of rectangular tape on top of the puck.) The robot arm even has a personality -- how aggressively it plays can depend on a number of factors, including how aggressive it feels its opponent is. You can watch that video at http://www.engineeringtv.com/video/Air-Hockey-Bot-1000-at-Nuvation . The arm was a customer-requested project that’s now used to demonstrate the company’s capabilities. As a demo, it includes a visual display that graphically shows how the robot is calculating trajectories and its responses.

Finally, we shot a short video about how the engineers at Nuvation play, which is pretty spectacular. They’re into combat robots, and the demonstrated one in the Nuvation parking lot that has a flame-thrower with a 5-foot reach – just what you need for blinding your opponent’s visuals and thermal sensors. It’s not as subtle as an air-hockey-playing robot arm with a personality, but well, a flame thrower embodies a certain personality of its own. The link is: http://www.engineeringtv.com/video/Combat-Robotics-and-the-Garage .

In my Design West blog yesterday, I wrote about Willow Garage and its advanced robots. You can now view that video, with CEO Steve Cousins explaining the PR2 robots and the ROS operating system to Bill Wong, at http://www.engineeringtv.com/video/The-PR2-Personal-Robot-from-Wil .

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Don Tuite

Don Tuite covers Analog and Power issues for Electronic Design’s magazine and website. He has a BSEE and an M.S in Technical Communication, and has worked for companies in aerospace,...
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