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National Instruments Recognizes Engineering and Science Innovation with Graphical System Design Awards

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National Instruments Corp.
11500 North Mopac Expwy.
Austin, TX, 78759-3504

Press release date: August 9, 2010

Application of the Year Presented to Virginia Tech for Their Semiautonomous Vehicle for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Aug. 9, 2010 - National Instruments recognized 15 innovative applications developed by engineers, scientists and researchers from around the world at the third annual Graphical System Design Achievement Awards. At the award ceremony held during the annual NIWeek graphical system design conference and exhibition in Austin, Texas, winners from seven application categories ranging from academic research and education to prototype and validation test were recognized for using graphical system design to develop applications that meet complex engineering and science challenges. The 2010 Application of the Year Award was presented to Dr. Dennis Hong, assistant professor and director of the Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory at Virginia Tech, who developed a semiautonomous vehicle that makes it possible for a blind driver to successfully navigate, control speed and avoid collision using auditory and tactile cues.

"Today's innovators are asked to solve increasingly challenging and critical problems," said Dr. James Truchard, president, CEO and cofounder of National Instruments. "These awards recognize the cutting-edge ways engineers and scientists are using the NI graphical system design approach in both the development and deployment of ground-breaking solutions."

Virginia Tech was honored for its achievement in building and programming the world's first functional prototype of a blind driver vehicle using an NI CompactRIO programmable automation controller and NI LabVIEW software. The university provided blind and visually-impaired people with the opportunity to drive a vehicle and generated interest in the collaborative development of blind access technologies. Though it may be years before blind driving technology is commercially in use, the first public demonstration of the second-generation blind driver vehicle will be at the Daytona International Speedway in January 2011.

The Green Engineering Application of the Year Award winner, Wineman Technology, was recognized by Truchard for using LabVIEW and CompactRIO to control a waste heat engine, which recovers thermal energy from industrial sources to create a power-generating cycle. The resulting power-generation cycle eliminates transmission loss and reduces carbon emissions, contributing to the preservation of ever-depleting fossil fuel resources and the global climate.

The Humanitarian Application of the Year Award was presented to Biorep Technologies for the development of an automated solution that improves the process for cell secretion analysis, which is routinely conducted in pancreatic islet in type 1 diabetes research. Using LabVIEW and CompactRIO, the automated solution was developed in only three months with the sophisticated debugging and troubleshooting features in LabVIEW, saving more than $10,000 USD in development costs.

A panel of technical experts, industry specialists, technical trade publication editors and National Instruments executives selected the award winners from 108 authors from 22 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 benefits achieved from using the application.

To learn more about the Graphical System Design Achievement Awards and view a comprehensive list of this year's winners, readers can visit

About National Instruments National Instruments ( is transforming the way engineers and scientists design, prototype and deploy systems for measurement, automation and embedded applications. NI empowers customers with off-the-shelf software such as NI LabVIEW and modular cost-effective hardware, and sells to a broad base of more than 30,000 different companies worldwide, with no one customer representing more than 3 percent of revenue and no one industry representing more than 15 percent of revenue. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, NI has more than 5,000 employees and direct operations in more than 40 countries. For the past 11 years, FORTUNE magazine has named NI one of the 100 best companies to work for in America.
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