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Secret Of The Black Cube

22.11.2004


Moscow engineers have invented and produced a ’black box’ the size of a meccano brick which is able to record and memorise all details of movement of the object carrying the device. In fact, the device does not do it during its entire life-cycle but only within the last 15 seconds. However, these last seconds in particular are often the most important ones.



This device has been invented, produced and is being tested by engineers of the Moscow CONUS Company, specialising in the development of high-precision measuring devices. The device cannot be called a black box, it is rather a black cube.

The cube is small in dimensions – it is only 5 by 5 centimeters, its weight being only 200 grams. The cube is unable to record conversations. Instead, it is able to measure with surprising precision linear acceleration and angular velocity of any object the device is installed on. The device does not only measure acceleration and velocity in three projections, but it also memorises them. It storage is very “short” – it lasts only 15 seconds. However, when these seconds are the last ones before the accident, they turn out to be the most important.


Imagine the investigation of a traffic accident. The drivers, if they can talk, are trying to prove by all means that they acted correctly – they drove at the right speed, braked on time and evaded in the only possible way. Traffic policemen with a tape-measure are wandering around and gloomily scrutinizing tire traces on the asphalt. Eye-witnesses are being questioned. On the whole, the picture is rather subjective.

The ILUS-3 linear acceleration/angular velocity measuring device developed by the Moscow designers will allow to introduce an element of objectivity in such investigations, as the device is able to measure and record with high precision how traverse speed changes in all three directions – along all three mutually perpendicular axis.

The new device is based on piezo-sensitive sensors. If not going into detail, (the inventors do not share any details about the device at all), the device consists of quartz plates with microscopical weights, each of them being able to move in one of three mutually perpendicular directions. When moving, each on the weights presses down on its own crystal, electric characteristics of the crystal changing due to such mechanical compression. These changes can be amplified, digitised, measured and recorded. For this end, the device provides for respective amplifiers, analogue digitisers and microprocessor.

However, the details of the device are not the point – the details are easy to buy. The Muscovites were the first who have managed to invent the construction and to assemble it so that it could operate. “At least, we have never heard about anything similar, although we performed detail search, says Yuri Titov, head of the design. Analogues exist, they are of the “flight recorder” type, but these are very expensive and bulky units. Our device is rather simple to produce, it is small and is expected to be inexpensive.

Speaking about its use, it seems to prove useful not only for automobile drivers. For example, it can be used by sportsmen when polishing vaulting technique in gymnastics, acrobatics, figure skating or free-style. Our measuring device will be able to work based on electricity supply network, including motor-car network, and on battery. It will help to operate movement of strange and fabulous creatures in the cinema or attractions – including Disneyland being built now in Moscow.”

Sergey Komarov | alfa
Further information:
http://www.informnauka.ru

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