Machine Design

Looking Back 8/25/2011

10 YEARS AGO — 2001
Problem at MIT: Dinosaur footprints on the desktop: Walking robotic dinosaurs have become reality, thanks to research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Artificial Intelligence Lab. Five years of work by lab staffer Peter Dilworth paid off when an 18-in.-high, 4-in.-long robotic dinosaur named Troody walked across his desk. Dilworth’s goal: Letting children see walking 3D recreations of small dinosaurs, hopefully spurring them on to careers as scientists or engineers.

Troody weighs 10 lb and uses 16 joints and 36 sensors, with each joint incorporating a position and force sensor. A vestibular system, described by Dilworth as an equivalent to an inner ear, provides balance, and an onboard computer automatically runs a walking control diagram.

30 YEARS AGO — 1981
Ritmo Super 85: newest export model from Fiat, Italy, features a 1.5-liter, 85-hp (DIN) engine equipped with a double carburetor that is said to increase engine output and reduce fuel consumption by 5 to 10%. With the standard five-speed transmission, top speed is 163 km/hr and acceleration time from 0 to 100 km/hr is 12.2 sec, according to the automaker. Fuel consumption is reported at 6.1 liter/100 km at 90 km/hr, 8.1 at 120, and 10.7 under city-driving conditions.

1961 Piezoelectric ignition system on Clinton Engines Corp.’s new 3.5-hp Dynaspark engine eliminates breaker points, coil, condenser, and magneto. Heart of the system is a Spark Pump developed by Cleveland Graphite Bronze Div., Clevite Corp. The engine is smaller and weighs less than one with a conventional ignition system. Other advantages are operating economy and low maintenance — as well as freedom from failure due to ignition trouble. First applications of the new engine will be on riding lawnmowers, farm equipment, generators and pumps, and auxiliary drives.

© 2011 Penton Media, Inc.

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