CAD Tech News (#6)

20 Nov, 2014 By: Cadalyst Staff

▶ Robot Designers Take Cues from Nature

In the world of biomimetics, scientists and engineers model their creations after living creatures.

By Cabe Atwell

Biomimetics, in its most basic form, is the imitation of systems and elements that have evolved in nature to help solve complex problems. When it comes to design, nothing can top nature — and rightfully so, as It has had roughly 3.8 billion years to get plant and animal life to where they are today. Consequently, many scientists, researchers, and engineers use those well-honed designs as inspiration in their efforts to make robots and other devices more functional and efficient.

A prime example is aircraft wing designs that are inspired by birds. Soon-Jo Chung, an assistant professor in the University of Illinois Aerospace and Engineering Department, and his colleagues seek to better understand birds' flight characteristics. Their findings could lead to applications such as specialized drones and aircraft capable of vertical landing, beyond what planes like Lockheed Martin's F-35B are capable of today.

Chung and his colleagues are developing a robotic bird that closely mimics the way our avian friends fly. Ornithopters — aircraft that flap their wings for flight — have been around since the late 1800s. Their mechanical wings, however, can't compare to the more sophisticated wing morphology and angling capabilities that allow birds to maneuver in flight, glide, and stall so they can dive for prey and land gracefully. "The robotic falcon we are developing will leverage the modern advances in materials, batteries, and electric actuators to construct the most sophisticated engineered flapping motions that anyone has tried," said Chung.

It is not uncommon for robotics researchers to consult with biologists and zoologists to get a better understanding of the functions they wish to emulate. Chung and his team took inspiration from prominent bat researchers Sharon Swartz and Kenneth Breuer at Brown University, who have designed a robotic bat wing that functions uncannily like its biological counterpart.

The 3D-printed robotic bat wing uses motors and cable-linked joints to emulate the flapping motions of a dog-faced fruit bat.
The 3D-printed robotic bat wing uses motors and cable-linked joints to emulate the flapping motions of a dog-faced fruit bat.

Read more »

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Cabe Atwell is an engineer and freelance writer covering product design.

▶ Herrera on Hardware: Know Your Processors — Intel Core and Xeon

A primer on workstation CPUs for CAD.

By Alex Herrera

Xeon and Core — you know the names, but what's the real difference between the two workstation CPU families from Intel? Which is the right choice to power your particular CAD workflow? Which offers the features, performance, and price point that best meet your needs?

Intel offerings are the only CPU choices available for professional workstation customers. Intel and AMD have long held a duopoly in the market for CPUs in mainstream consumer and corporate PCs, but the same is not true in the workstation market. After a promising surge a decade ago, AMD's CPUs are, for all intents and purposes, absent from workstation platforms today.

Workstations are Intel's game for now, with the company pitching two lines of CPU products that are suited to CAD applications: Core and Xeon. The two share a common foundation in processor technology but have been shaped for different users and applications. Each offers its own balance of performance, reliability, expansion, and cost to meet the needs of a broad range of client and server computing platforms, including the mobile and desktop workstations that today's CAD professionals rely on.

Mainstream corporate and consumer PCs form the primary market for Core, while servers (multisocket servers in particular) form the primary market for Xeon. Workstations are uniquely situated in Intel's product map — at the crossroads of the two CPU brands.

Core drives mobile workstations virtually on its own, whereas Xeon currently commands the lion's share of CPUs sold in traditional, desktop workstations. Core processors reside in about one-third of all branded desktop workstations, typically those with more modest hardware configurations and commensurately lower price tags. The remaining two-thirds, including all dual-socket workstations, ship with Xeon. Read more »

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Contributing editor Alex Herrera is a consultant focusing on high-performance graphics and workstations.


Cadalyst Labs Report: Mobile CAD Workstations Priced Under $2,500
Break away from your desk with seven portable, powerful models that can keep you productive wherever you go. Read more »

The MSI GT60 20KWS mobile workstation is reviewed as part of the Cadalyst Labs Report, "Mobile CAD Workstations Priced Under $2,500." Read more »

Lenovo ThinkPad W540
The Lenovo ThinkPad W540 is reviewed as part of the Cadalyst Labs Report, "Mobile CAD Workstations Priced Under $2,500." Read more »


Construction Technology Forecast: Harnessing Integration, Mobile, Sensors, and Augmented Reality
December 2, 2014
2 p.m. ET
Associated General Contractors (ACG) of America will present this webinar, the cost of which will be $99 for ACG members and $129 for nonmembers. James Benham, president and CEO of JBKnowledge, will talk about the latest trends in building technologies, identifying short-term fads and long-term game changers from mobile apps to augmented reality and drones. Read more »

Autodesk University 2014
December 2–4, 2014
Las Vegas, Nevada
This annual event for users of Autodesk software will offer 650 classes for designers and engineers, Innovation Forums, networking receptions, and an exhibit hall. Read more »

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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