Staying Ahead of Sensor Failure in Extreme Environments

Although materials used in the construction of components for modern aircraft are built for durability, the extreme conditions sometimes imposed on them create the potential for part failure. Thus the need for increasingly sophisticated systems to monitor the health of the machines and their parts.

As the U.S. National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health reported in a publication called “Overview of Fiber Optic Sensor Technologies for Strain/Temperature Sensing Applications in Composite Materials,” the threat of material failure “necessitates the requirement for non-destructive structural health monitoring techniques throughout the lifetime of the composite structural part.”

This report examines the characteristics of fiber optics, which are low-cost and can be embedded in materials and continue to send information while monitoring strain and temperature in extreme conditions in issues such as such as bend loading in aircraft wings.

The Sikorsky Entrepreneurial Challenge is looking to reward advances in sensors that remain robust in extreme operational temperature range, wet, high vibration while measuring strain, vibration, temperature and other modalities. Learn more about the E-Challenge guidelines here.


Real innovation thrives on a combination of viewpoints and talents

Walter Isaacson, in his book, “The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution,” shows that brilliant individuals were key to the development of the age of the Internet and personal computer. But the most important milestones, Isaacson argued, were achieved when bright and motivated people worked in groups, exchanging ideas and building incrementally on each other’s innovations. It was true for the modern computer, the transistor, the microchip and the video game industry, as well as the Internet and personal computer.

In that same spirit, Sikorsky has created the Entrepreneurial Challenge, now in its fifth year. The challenge is a competition for ideas that might someday be incorporated by the company to improve helicopters and other flight systems.

The small team that judges submissions looks especially for new perspectives and ways of thinking – ideas that, when their creators start working with Sikorsky engineers, might be the seed of something even bigger.

Do you have one of those ideas? Lockheed has designated three focus areas for the 8th Entrepreneurial Challenge:

  1. Distributed, reconfigurable MEMS sensor network
  2. Adaptive communications for assured data exchange
  3. Advanced sensor fusion

Read more about the three focus areas at the Entrepreneurial Challenge website.

And follow the Techaloft blog for information about research and innovation in science and engineering. Through July 14, we will concentrate on advances in the Entrepreneurial Challenge focus areas.


The Internet of Everything

Remote sensors make it possible to collect information from numerous hard-to-reach points for analysis. As the machines being measured become more complex and sensors collect more information, compiling the data into a coherent report that can be quickly understood increases dramatically. The only way to efficiently gather, translate and act on information in a fast-moving environment, says Dr. Ram D. Sriram, is for humans and computers to work together. Sriram, chief of Software and Systems Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, spoke at the 2016 conference on Ontological Approaches to Sensor Data Analysis. He predicted a future of biological, cognitive, semantic and social networks that will constantly sense, monitor, interpret and control our environment.

“A key technical challenge for realizing the ‘Internet of Everything’ is that the network consists of things (both devices and humans) which are heterogeneous, yet need to be interoperable,” Sriram said. “In other words devices and people need to interoperate in a seamless manner.”


NOTE:  This article is a reprint from the 3/30 edition of our bi-weekly TechAloft Newsletter.  To subscribe to the newsletter, click here.


Sensor Vendors at IOT Evolution Las Vegas

Carl Ford and the team at TMC Media did a great job with the 2015 IOT Evolution conference in Las Vegas this summer.  The sessions were outstanding and as usual, the real excitement and discovery was on the show floor.  Sensor vendors like Xensr and Monnit provided some cool ideas on how sensors can be used to solve a wide variety of business problems.

David Troup from Xensr
3d Motion tracking gps — started with extreme sports, now in discussions with a variety of industries.

Brad Walters from Monnit
45+ different sensors for every need. And gateways.  Brad is passionate about sensors and has great case studies.

If you are interested in Sensor or IOT solutions and the $25k Sikorsky Entrepreneurial Challenge, we’d like to hear from you.