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EL Highlights May 2012

EL Highlights for May 2012

Programmatic/Technical Accomplishment

EL Led an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Workshop on Regulatory Approaches to Smart Grid Investment and Deployment

NIST Engineering Laboratory organized and led an APEC Workshop on Regulatory Approaches to Smart Grid Investment and Deployment, held in Quebec City, Canada on May 16 and 17, 2012. The workshop garnered sixty participants from 14 APEC economies. The workshop is part of a high-level APEC work program focused on increasing regulatory understanding of smart grid, following recommendations of the APEC Regulatory Cooperation and Advancement Mechanism Dialogue on smart grid held in Big Sky, Montana in May 2011. This Workshop focused on the standards and conformance issues associated with the deployment of the Smart Grid.  Participants discussed issues associated with ensuring that regulations facilitate trade and the use of relevant international standards and conformity assessment programs that support good regulatory practices.

Dr. George Arnold of NIST's Engineering Laboratory co-chaired the workshop with Paul Centolella, former commissioner of Ohio Public Utilities Commission. Dr. Arnold also led a panel session on international standards development.  The workshop included keynotes by the President of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), Chairman of Canada's Energy and Utility Regulators (CAMPUT), and Chairman of the Korea Electricity Commission.  Panel sessions were held on interoperability standards and the role of energy regulators, international standards development, lessons learned from smart grid projects, cybersecurity, consumer data access and privacy, and APEC economies' visions for the 21st century grid.  Dr. David Wollman of NIST's Engineering Laboratory gave a presentation and participated on the panel session on consumer data access and privacy.  Mr. James St. Pierre of NIST Information Technology Laboratory presented and participated on the Cybersecurity panel session. 

Key outcomes and conclusions from the workshop are: 1) The efficient development of standards and interoperability will reap key benefits for electricity regulators; 2) There is a need for more robust engagements between the standards community and regulators; 3) The standards community could benefit from an analysis of the needs of regulators, more effectively engaging regulators in the standards development process, and the implications of regulation for the modernization of electric grids and the trade in smart grid technologies; 4) There is a need for the development and communication of best practices for regulators in providing input to the standards community; and 5) Continued education and outreach on standards interoperability issues will be beneficial and organizations and forums that are well-positioned for this task should be identified. A complete report of the workshop was presented the following week by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative at the APEC Senior Official Meeting in Kazan, Russia.

More information on the workshop including final agenda and copies of presentations is available on the workshop website at:

Contact:Cuong Nguyen, (301) 975-2254

EL Developed Device to Measure Robot Forces Tested

NIST Engineering Laboratory staff collaborated with Heartland Robotics (Boston, MA) to test a NIST-developed device that measures the forces exerted by a robot. This work supports development and evaluation of a new industrial robot safety standard that requires robots that work with people to follow power and force limiting (PFL) restrictions. The collaboration with Heartland Robotics served to verify the measurement device's operation and to obtain feedback on its use, while testing the force limiting capabilities of Heartland's pre-production prototype collaborative robot. PFL is a mode of collaborative robotics where a robot is allowed to contact a human and still maintain its automatic operation, provided that the robot limits the forces on the human to within a documented set of biomechanical requirements. The PFL device was developed by NIST through an Engineering Laboratory Exploratory Project on the topic of improved robot safety. The device replicates the deformation constants of various human body regions and measures static and dynamic collision forces. NIST and Heartland Robotics will jointly present the results of this collaboration at the upcoming ISO TC184/SC2 WG3 standards meeting in Mainz, Germany.

Contact: Joe Falco, (301) 975-3455


EL Brings Stakeholders Together to Discuss Need for New Standard for Characterizing the Performance of Ultra-Precision Positioning Systems

Many new compact, ultra-precision linear positioning systems with positioning resolutions on the order of a nanometer and ranges of motion on the order of tens of millimeters are finding their way into emerging global micro- and nano-technology applications. Measuring and certifying the performance of these systems with off-the-shelf instrumentation and existing standard test methods can be very challenging, particularly if the test uncertainty ratio is greater or equal to 4:1. Manufacturers and users of these systems are recognizing this challenge and have begun to develop their own internal standards and methods for characterizing these systems. However, performance specifications based on these diverse and vendor-specific methods leads to customer confusion and uncertainty. For these reasons, NIST and industry have recognized the need for new or improved standard test methods that specifically address the performance evaluation of ultra-precision positioning systems.

In response to this need, EL researcher Ronnie Fesperman organized and conducted a kick-off meeting on May 2 to discuss the need for development of a new standard for characterizing the positioning performance of ultra-precision positioning systems. Representatives from industry, government, and academia participated in the teleconference meeting, including participants from Alio Inc., Pratt & Whitney, Aerotech Inc., Corning Inc., nPoint Inc., Kriterion, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, University of Rochester, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and NIST. Measurement challenges and industry concerns pertaining to this class of positioning system were identified. The group's consensus was that a new standard or an addition to an existing standard is needed to address the issues and concerns of this community. Options for the most appropriate standards developing organization were reviewed and a sub-group was tasked to develop the scope for a new standard. Other companies, including Moore Tool Inc., Carl Zeiss IMT, Newport Inc., Moore Nanotechnology Systems, Hardinge Inc., Lion Precision, Molecular Imprints, 3M Corporation, and Precitech, have also expressed interest in this standards development. Ronnie is currently leading the task group to develop the scope statement for the new effort.

Contact: Ronnie Fesperman, (301) 975-3620

NIST Staff Contribute to Space Family Day and Science Outreach

NIST staff contributed to Space Family Day held at the National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, on Saturday, May 5. During the event, NIST researchers Greg Vogl (EL), Kang Lee (EL),

Joe Chalfoun (ITL), and Robert Shull (MML) interacted with museum visitors to highlight the Adventures-in-Science Program. The NIST team presented various Adventures-in-Science activities and conducted a hands-on learning activity illustrating the Adventures-in-Science robotics program to visitors of all ages. Enthusiastic responses were received as museum visitors learned by operating several robotic devices, including a talking robot head, robots with sensory feedback built from LEGO blocks, a multi-axis robot arm, a basketball-shooting robot, and a sophisticated 18 degrees-of-freedom humanoid robot. The centerpiece of the Space Family Day was the Space Shuttle Discovery that was added to the museum collection in April. Visitors were able to see the shuttle up close and learn about the 39 missions of the longest-serving orbiter, spanning more than 20 years of service. The day featured three astronaut guest speakers, science performances for children, hands-on activities, and book signings.

The NIST team also contributed during the science outreach day sponsored by Johns Hopkins University on May 23 at the Montgomery County Campus. NIST and nine other organizations each presented two 45-minute hands-on science sessions to more than 400 elementary school students to highlight practical science applications.

Contact: Kang Lee, 301-975-6604


EL Authors Hit Top 25 Most Downloaded Papers from Computer-Aided Design

Computer-Aided Design is a leading international journal that provides academia and industry with key papers on research and developments in the application of computers to design.  The journal invites papers reporting new research, as well as novel or particularly significant applications, within a wide range of topics, spanning all stages of design process from concept creation to manufacture and beyond.  Several papers authored by staff of the Engineering Laboratory have the distinct recognition of being on the list of top article downloads.  Among the top 25 papers recognized, at number nine, "An integration framework for product lifecycle management," published May 2011 by Dr. Vijay Srinivasan; at number 18.  "A product information modeling framework for product lifecycle management," published November 2005 by Drs. Rachuri, Fenves, Sriram, and Wang; and at number 23, "OntoSTEP: Enriching product model data using ontologies," published June 2012 by Barbau, Krima, Rachuri, Narayanan, Fiorentini, Foufou, and Sriram .

Contact: Sudarsan Rachuri, (301) 975-4264

Created July 5, 2012, Updated November 21, 2012