Popular Mechanics this month announced the recipients of its 2013 Breakthrough Awards. This year’s list honors innovators in the military and aerospace (mil/aero) community, including engineers at NASA JPL, Northrop Grumman Corp., and more.
A growing number of mil/aero engineers are focused on advancing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and sensor technologies. Innovations in these areas are also turning the heads of Popular Mechanics staff members, as evidenced by the following two award recipients.
Popular Mechanics staff singled out the BioTac Sensor from Gerald Loeb of the University of Southern California, Jeremy Fishel of SynTouch, and additional team members. The BioTac senses things—including force, vibration, and temperature—the way human fingertips do, and has similar mechanical properties. In one of its first applications, the BioTac outperformed blindfolded humans at identifying materials according to their texture. The novel sensor is expected to pave the way for a new generation of industrial, medical, and military robots, as well as prosthetic limbs.
The 2013 Breakthrough Awards also honors Swarm Micro-UAVs from Vijay Kumar, Shaojie Shen, and Matthew Turpin of the University of Pennsylvania; Nathan Michael of Carnegie Mellon University; and Daniel Mellinger and Alex Kushleyev of KMel Robotics. These small, autonomous quadrotor helicopters, also called quadcopters, can fly in squadrons and spontaneously create maps or assemble a miniature truss structure. “UAVs may change how we respond to disaster, perhaps even preventing losses beforehand by mapping challenging environments,” recognizes the Popular Mechanics staff.
This mil/aero geek loves seeing scientists, researchers, and outstanding projects gain the recognition they deserve for the incredible work they perform. Each one of these recipients continues to push the boundaries of technology and propel their respective fields forward. This geek cannot wait to see what comes next!