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82 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I NOVEMBER 2019 Andy Shaughnessy is managing editor of Design007 Magazine. He has been covering PCB design for 19 years. He can be reached by clicking here. with increasingly smaller form factors, and when reliability becomes a big problem, flex starts to look better and better. This is another case of the OEM and the final product leading the way. One senior designer who does a mix of flex and rigid boards told me that his company had to go to Korea to find a flex fabricator who could handle their next- generation flexible circuits. They really want- ed to keep everything in the U.S., but it just wasn't possible. Flexible circuit technology is changing so rapidly that flex developers sometimes wind up revamping their business plans. Case in point: CelLink, a company founded eight years ago with a plan to make large, high-conductance flexible circuits for the solar, battery and LED segments. But the universe had other plans. Now, BMW has invested $22.5 million in the California company, along with Ford Motor Company and Robert Bosch Venture Capital. CelLink is poised to begin developing cutting- edge flexible circuits that will replace the an- tiquated wire harnesses in the Bavarian com- pany's cars. According to reports, these flex- ible circuits are low in cost, reliable, and light- weight, potentially reducing the weight of the car's circuitry by up to 90%. If you had told a group of PCB technolo- gists 20 years ago that a car's wire harness- es could be replaced by flexible circuity, they would have laughed at you. I've said it before: Flex is like the Wild, Wild West right now. PCB designers and design engineers have a lot of questions about flex and rigid-flex, but Flex007 has the answers. This month, we begin with a column by Tara Dunn of Omni PCB. Tara discusses why she be- lieves that technologists will have to embrace change more quickly than ever before, and not just with flexible circuits, in order to keep up with innovations in the industry. Next, Domi - nique Numakura of DKN Research shares his thoughts on the use of electroless plating to produce high-density flexible circuits, and why the time is right for companies to consider elec - troless plating. Then, Joe Fjelstad explains why additive manufacturing may be on the verge of taking off, and how additive processes can help companies save one very precious commodi - ty: Time. And Outi Rusanen, et al., of TactoTek make the case for smart molded structures, and the need for updated standards that can keep up with this evolving technology. We'll be covering productronica 2019, and before you know it, we'll be heading to IPC APEX EXPO and DesignCon. I hope to see you on the road. See you next month! FLEX007 Standard approaches for robotic navigation involve mapping an area ahead of time, then using algorithms to guide a robot toward a specific goal or GPS coordinate on the map. While this approach might make sense for ex- ploring specific environments, such as the layout of a par- ticular building or planned obstacle course, it can become unwieldy in the context of last-mile delivery. MIT engineers have developed a navigation method that doesn't require mapping an area in advance. Instead, their approach enables a robot to use clues in its envi- ronment to plan out a route to its destination, which can be described in general semantic terms, such as "front door" or "garage," rather than as coordinates on a map. For example, if a robot is instructed to deliver a package to someone's front door, it might start on the road and see a driveway, which it has been trained to recognize as likely to lead toward a sidewalk, which in turn is likely to lead to the front door. The new technique can greatly reduce the time a robot spends exploring a property before identifying its target, and it doesn't rely on maps of specific residences. This research is supported, in part, by the Ford Motor Company. (Source: MIT) Technique Helps Robots Find the Front Door

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