Special Coverage

Lightweight Internal Device to Measure Tension in Hollow- Braided Cordage
System, Apparatus, and Method for Pedal Control
Dust Tolerant Connectors
Foldable and Deployable Power Collection System
Iodine-Compatible Hall Effect Thruster
Development of a Novel Electrospinning System with Automated Positioning and Control Software
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Vibration Sensors Add New Touch to Prosthetics

The sense of touch is complex, and an instructor at the University of California – Santa Barbara (UCSB) has the technology to prove it. Yon Visell, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and his students designed an apparatus that captures the unique vibration patterns associated with touch-specific actions, from gripping a coffee mug to tapping on a flat surface. The findings could support new applications in prosthetics, robotics, and virtual reality.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Sensors

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Editor’s Choice: June 2016

A small, metallic thermometer is hermetically sealed, has an essentially unlimited shelf-life, is insensitive to radiation, has no electronics or mechanisms, can operate in any orientation or gravity, and provides good thermal conductivity. It features an off-the-shelf ultra-high vacuum flange and permanently records temperatures in extreme environments. The low-cost device is read by visual inspection after opening the seal. Find out more HERE.

Posted in: UpFront, Aerospace

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NASA Public Domain Patents Benefit U.S. Industry

NASA has released 56 of its formerly patented technologies into the public domain, making them freely available for unrestricted commercial use. In addition, a searchable database is now available that catalogs thousands of expired NASA patents already in the public domain.

Posted in: UpFront, Aerospace

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NASA and FAA Demonstrate Wireless Communication with Aircraft

For the first time ever, engineers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center conveyed aviation data — including route options and weather information — to an airplane over a wireless communication system for aircraft on the ground. The demonstration, conducted in collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration and Hitachi, demonstrated two technologies that could change airport operations worldwide.

Posted in: UpFront, Aerospace

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Multifunctional Ablative Thermal Protection System

This material has applications in aerospace systems, manufacturing, and structural components requiring three-dimensional reinforcement. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California The Orion crew module highlighting the compression pads in the heat shield. NASA has developed a unique and robust multifunctional material called 3-Dimensional Multifunctional Ablative (3DMAT) Thermal Protection System (TPS) that meets both the structural and thermal performance needs for a lunar return mission and beyond. 3DMAT uses a game-changing woven technology tailored to the needs of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) compression pad. Compression pads serve as the interface between the crew module and service module of the Orion MPCV. The compression pads must carry the structural loads generated during launch, space operations, and pyroshock separation of the two modules. They must also serve as an ablative TPS withstanding the high heating of Earth re-entry. 3DMAT leverages NASA’s investment in woven TPS to design, manufacture, test, and demonstrate a prototype material for the Orion compression pads that combines the weaving of quartz yarns with resin transfer molding.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials

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Limboid Reconfigurable Robots for In-Space Assembly

A Limboid workforce with access to a tool crib could staff robotic space factories. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Figure 1. A laboratory prototype of a Limbi robot autonomously builds a modular structure. This process could repeat to build a large truss or spacecraft. As shown here, the modules are small, but a similar approach would work for large modules. Many future space vehicles, planetary bases, and mining operations will be too large and heavy to launch on a single rocket. Instead, component parts would need to be launched on multiple rockets and assembled in space. To enable versatile in-space assembly, a novel class of reconfigurable robots called Limboids has been conceptualized. Limboids are robotic limbs that attach and detach from each other to form a variety of useful configurations. These configurations might be as small as a single limb, which is best for dexterous manipulation of small parts, or as large as necessary for gross manipulation. As a modular system, Limboids could be supplemented with additional tools and limbs.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Cam Hand

This robust gripper design has applicability to both robots and as a prosthetic for the physically challenged. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California A durable gripper tool was designed for use by RoboSimian robots intended for use in disaster scenarios that demand high-force, robust manipulation. The resulting Cam Hand fills a previously unaddressed niche that emphasizes grip strength and robustness over dexterity. The design uses a number of unique features to ensure high operational flexibility. While this gripper was created for use on a robot, its basic design could be refined for other applications; in particular, as a new class of prosthetic that would exist between the traditional hook and pinch models and the dexterous models currently under development.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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