NI recognises innovation through graphical system design

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National Instruments has recognised 20 innovative applications developed by engineers, scientists and researchers from around the world at the second annual Graphical System Design Achievement Awards, held on 4 August. At the award ceremony, held during the annual NIWeek graphical system design conference and exhibition in Austin, Texas, winners from 10 categories ranging from academic/research to prototype/validation test were recognised for developing applications that meet complex engineering and science challenges using graphical system design. The 2009 Application of the Year Award was presented to a researcher from Ford Motor Company who developed an electronic control unit (ECU) for an automotive fuel cell system (FCS). Ford also received the Green Engineering Award and was named the winner in the automotive category.

'These awards honour the many ways innovators are using graphical system design to solve a multitude of increasingly demanding problems,' said Dr James Truchard, president, CEO and cofounder of National Instruments. 'By using NI LabView graphical system design tools in unique ways, engineers and scientists continue to make impressive advances throughout industry and academia and redefine how they address our world's biggest challenges.'

Ford was honoured for its achievement in designing and implementing a real-time embedded control system for an automotive fuel cell system (FCS) using the LabView Real-Time and LabView FPGA modules and an NI CompactRIO controller. The control system was verified using LabView and a real-time PXI chassis hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) system. The researcher's FCS has proved capable of demonstrating significant progress toward achieving a commercially viable FCS design that is competitive with conventional internal combustion-based power trains. The company's commitment to FCS research resulted in the development of vehicles such as a full-size, full-performance fuel cell car (P2000) and a fuel cell plug-in hybrid (Ford Edge with HySeries Drive).

The Multicore Award was presented to the Automation and Robotics Research Institute at the University of Texas at Arlington for its work in creating a modular test bed for rapid flight control development of autonomous micro air vehicles (MAVs). Additionally, the Humanitarian Award, which recognises the application that exhibits the greatest impact on improving the quality of life, was presented to KCBiomediX for its development of a device that helps premature babies learn to oral feed.

The Editor's Choice Award was presented to the University of Leeds, which used graphical system design to create a real-time control system for custom robotic manipulators. The manipulators serve as a robotic rehabilitation system to assist in therapeutic arm exercise for people with arm impairment after stroke.

A panel of technical experts, industry specialists, technical trade publication editors and National Instruments executives selected the award winners. This year, there was an unprecedented amount of entries; the contest received submissions from 182 authors in 25 countries. The panel determined the winning papers based on several criteria ranging from the technical difficulty involved in developing a solution to the engineering challenge and the benefits achieved from using the application.