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Google grants £1m to prosthetic limb venture

Prosthetic limbs made with technology developed at Strathclyde University are to become more available through a $1m grant from Google.org. ProPortion, a Netherlands-based social enterprise, has received the funding for its LegBank venture that provides limbs to amputees on low incomes. The limbs use Majicast, a hands-free device used for manufacturing lower limb prosthetic sockets that has been developed by researchers in Strathclyde’s Department of Biomedical Engineering and engineers with design company Reggs. Majicast captures the unique shape of lower residual limbs with the use of plaster bandages or other direct casting materialThe Google.org funding will enable production by LegBank, and its distribution to developing countries, to be expanded. It is initially focusing o

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Plans progress for world’s biggest offshore wind farm at Hornsea

Dong Energy has announced that Hornsea Project Three, an offshore wind farm that could power over two million UK homes when built, has entered the consultation stage of its planning process. Situated about 120km off the Yorkshire coast, Hornsea Three is set to be the world’s biggest offshore wind project when completed, with a maximum capacity of 2.4GW. The 696 square kilometre site lies to the east of Hornsea One and Two, which will also be built by Danish state-backed energy utility Dong. “Hornsea Project Three is a huge infrastructure project which, if built out to full capacity, would be the world’s largest offshore wind farm and potentially twice the size of Hornsea Project One,” said Brent Cheshire, DONG Energy UK’s country chairman. “Moving forward with consulta

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Back to the Future 30 Years: MARTY shows off the skills of an autonomous DeLorean

As we celebrate 30 years of the Back To The Future movie franchise, Chris Gerdes, a professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford University, has enlisted his students to transform a 1981 DeLorean into a test bed for researching the physical limits of autonomous driving. The vehicle, built in collaboration with Renovo Motors and the Revs Program at Stanford, has been dubbed MARTY, which is short for Multiple Actuator Research Test bed for Yaw control. “We want to design automated vehicles that can take any action necessary to avoid an accident,” Gerdes said. “The laws of physics will limit what the car can do but we think the software should be capable of any possible manoeuvre within those limits. MARTY is another step in this direction.” Read more: http://www.theenginee

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‘Tricorder’ device will detect infection and immune response to it.

A portable device designed to detect not only the presence of an infection but also how the patient’s immune system is responding to it, could help doctors predict the likely severity of a disease. The point of care sensor, which is being developed by an EU-funded consortium, can detect not only invading pathogens, but also small molecules produced by the immune system in response to the disease. This can be used to predict how the disease will evolve in a particular patient, according to Leopold Georgi at the Technische Universitat Berlin, who is coordinating the Platform for ultra-sensitive Point-of-Care diagnostics for infectious diseases (PoC-ID) project. The human respiratory syncytial virus commonly affects young children, and can have serious consequences in severe cases

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Falken cut noise from car tyres by up to 10 decibels

Tyre manufacturer Falken has released a new design that could cut cabin noise levels by as much as four decibels and drive-by noise levels by up to 10 decibels. The patented Silent Core technology was developed in collaboration with Falken’s parent company Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI). It uses a layer of ether-polyurethane foam applied to the inner surface of the tyre to damp vibrations and resonance in the air trapped within the carcass. Left unabated, these vibrations travel through up through the suspension and into the cabin, where they’re heard as the characteristic tyre drone. Advances in powertrain design and aerodynamics mean this is often now the single biggest contribution to cabin noise, so any form of attenuation is useful. While Falken is not alone in using a foa

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Open Bionics wins UK leg of Dyson award

A low cost 3D-printed bionic hand for amputees has won the UK leg of the James Dyson Award, an annual prize established by the prominent industrialist’s charitable trust, The James Dyson foundation. Developed by UK design engineer Joel Gibbard, the Open Bionics hand can be 3D printed and assembled in just 40 hours and costs under £1,000, a fraction of the cost of other advanced prosthetics. As previously reported in The Engineer the device can perform the same tasks as more expensive systems including individual finger movement through the use of electromyographical sensors which are stuck to the amputee’s skin. “We’ve encountered many challenges in designing our hands,” commented Gibbard, “but the reactions of the individuals we help fuels our perseverance to bring the

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Robo-whiskers build picture of surroundings

Researchers at the University of Illinois’ Advanced Digital Sciences Centre in Singapore have developed a whisker-like sensor array that measures the fluid flow of its surroundings and creates tomographic images. Source: Hjvannes, Wikimedia Commons The results, published in the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, describe the array as consisting of five superelastic wires made from nitinol, an alloy of nickel and titanium. Each wire is covered with a plastic straw, making the whiskers about 15 cm long and 3 mm wide. Strain gauges attached at the base measure movement in each whisker, and these signals are used to build up an image of the fluid flow past the array. “When it is dark, whiskers play a key role for animals in exploring, hunting or even just living undergrou

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All together now

Various joining methods are being developed to help manufacturers of composite products save weight, time and cost. If a company can reduce the time and materials used to stick multiple composite components together, it will reduce total production time and cost. So all users of composite structures – manufacturers of aircraft, wind turbine blades, motorsport technology and, increasingly, mainstream automotive equipment – are eager to perfect the bonding process. But relying purely on adhesives is not easy. “Because we are always chasing weight and cost, bonding parts together is an efficient way of doing that and it could lead to lower-weight structures,” said John Cornforth, head of airframe and special product technologies  at GKN Aerospace. “In both metals and composite

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Electrospinning helps create protective coating around health-promoting food ingredients

Spinning a protective coating around health-promoting ingredients such as probiotics and vitamins could help shield them from the harsh conditions inside the human body. So-called functional ingredients, such as probiotics, prebiotics, and stanols and sterols are increasingly being added to foods to boost the immune system or reduce cholesterol, for example. However, protecting these sensitive materials as they pass through the upper gastro-intestinal tract and ensuring they are delivered safely to their target site within the body is no easy task, according to Dr Nick Tucker of the School of Engineering at the University of Lincoln. Source: Robert Lamberts - The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited Spinning a protective coating around health-promoting ing

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