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The evolution of bipedal robots may follow a road once traveled by living species – the inclusion of a tail. In the Robotics and Mechatronics Lab of Pinhas Ben-Tzvi, associate professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering, the tail has become a captivating solution for the problem of bipedal and quadrupedal robot stabilizing and maneuvering. “If you’ve seen robotic quadrupeds, they are very big and very expensive, with articulated legs incorporating multiple degrees of freedom,” said Ben-Tzvi. “The machines use...

BWX Technologies, Inc. presented a check for $4,000 to the department for the senior design program to go toward a project next year working alongside QL+. BWXT and non-profit QL+ joined forces this year as well, resulting in a push-up plank device to help a retired Army officer who lost her arm and shoulder maintain her fitness. In the photo above, Azim Eskandarian, department head and Nicholas and Rebecca Des Champs Chair, stands with Jodee Harris (BSME '16) and Jackson Sale...

The Virginia Tech AgBot team clinched first place in the third annual AgBot Challenge May 19 at Gerrish Farms in Rockville, Indiana, earning a top award of $30,000. The 2018 event, hosted by Gerrish Farms and airBridge LLC, was broken into two separate challenges – weed and feed, and harvesting – with university and industry teams competing head-to-head for $100,000 in prizes. Virginia Tech’s team won the watermelon harvesting challenge by creating an autonomous system that could identify, sort, and harvest ripe...

After a journey that involved a crash, a dead battery, and late-night coding sprints, a Virginia Tech engineering team took third place in the first year of an autonomous vehicle competition held by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and General Motors. Victor Tango AutoDrive was the only one of eight teams to successfully complete all three portions of the AutoDrive Challenge, held at the GM Desert Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona. The challenges were based on complex perception, navigation, and behavior...

For the past four years 16 teams from across the country have been working to turn a stock Chevy Camaro into an efficient hybrid vehicle as part of EcoCAR 3, a challenge sponsored by the Department of Energy and General Motors. The end of EcoCAR 3 marks the 30th year of Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions, going back to 1988’s Methanol Marathon. Since its inception in 1994, the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team (HEVT) has taken part in nine AVT competitions under the...

For graduate students, a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship is a rare thing with only 2,000 students nationwide receiving the award this year, including Lindsey Bass, a first year graduate student in mechanical engineering working in the lab of Christopher Williams, associate professor and John R. Jones III Faculty Fellow. The NSF graduate fellowships only allow graduate students to apply once and Williams, who received an Honorable Mention for the award as a graduate student, said Bass is the first...