Novel Devices that Utilize Strain Energy in Automobiles

Regenerative Brake and Launch Assist Prototype
The team worked with General Motors Research (located in Warren, Michigan) to develop two new devices that reduce the negative environmental impact of automobiles. The first of these two devices is a mechanical regenerative brake and launch-assist. During braking, the device stretches a spring to store the kinetic energy of the vehicle. The launch-assist comes when the stretched spring releases its energy to accelerate the vehicle. The design challenge of the regenerative brake and launch-assist is that the device needs to be able to hold the energy in the stretched spring without affecting the power passing through the drive train. The second of the two devices is a spring-based mechanical starter that would significantly reduce the size of the motor and battery currently needed to start an IC engine.

Part-Orienting Devices

Part-Orienting Linkage ModelA POD, Part Orienting Device, is a low degree-of-freedom machine capable of producing spatial trajectories and rotations. A single “part orienting device”, or POD, can be used in a task that might otherwise require a robot or multiple single degree-of-freedom mechanisms. A simple example of a POD might be a robot wrist customed design to for a single operation that needs to be performed thousands or millions of times. Such a wrist could be faster, more accurate, and operare with significantly lower energy requirements than a traditional robot wrist. This project was funded by the National Science Foundation and developed in conjunction with Dr. Pierre Larochelle of the Florida Institute of Technology.