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Survival of the fittest - the process control imperative

In tough times, manufacturers focus on reducing their operating costs, but may not be able to afford to spend their way out by buying more productive machinery. With that pathway closed, what are the opportunities for radically reducing costs without replacing existing machines? Where can we:

Posted in: White Papers, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Researchers Test Robot's 'Light Touch'

Using an air-fluidized bed trackway filled with poppy seeds or glass spheres, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology systematically varied the stiffness of the ground to mimic a variety of surfaces, from hard-packed sand to powdery snow. By studying how running lizards, geckos, crabs, and a robot moved through the varying conditions, the researchers found ideal parameters for appendage design.

Posted in: News, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Robots Provide 3D Map of England's Deepwater Canyons

Using a unique combination of marine robotics and ship-based measurements, the Southampton, UK-based National Oceanography Centre (NOC) produced a three-dimensional picture of submarine canyon habitats. The information captured in the new set of maps ranges in scale from the 200-km canyon down to the size of an individual cold-water coral polyp. The data will be used to inform the management of the only English Marine Conservation Zone in deep water.

Posted in: News, Robotics

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3D Motor for Multi-Axis Attitude Control on SmallSats

For improved performance-to-mass ratio, a reaction sphere is a 3D motor that could replace what would conventionally require at least three separate single-axis motors. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Preliminary data was recently provided for a reaction sphere prototype on NASA’s zero-gravity parabolic flight vehicle. Gyroscope telemetry indicates that reaction spheres were successfully commanded at 10- to 20-ms pulses during a handful of parabolas in each flight. This is the first publicly disclosed validation of a freely rotating reaction sphere in a standalone compact package. At dimensions of

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Nanosatellite Launch Adapter System

Applications include CubeSats, nanosatellites, and launch vehicles. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California NASA has developed a Nanosatellite Launch Adapter System (NLAS) that maximizes the efficiency of satellite launch missions. NLAS increases access to space while simplifying the integration process of miniature satellites, called nanosats or CubeSats, onto launch vehicles. While a complete NLAS consists of an adapter integrated with four dispensers and a sequencer, its components can be used modularly with other adapter, deployer, and sequencer/actuator systems. The adapter is mounted to the upper surface of the launch vehicle at the separation plane and the lower deck of the primary spacecraft supporting its structural load. The dispensers are mounted inside the adapter and house a variety of CubeSats in fully enclosed bays. NLAS is stackable, allowing for the expansion of spacecraft deployments. An NLAS sequencer can initiate a secondary sequencer, allowing for the expansion of actuator and deployment capability.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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James Webb Space Telescope Microshutters Subsystem Project Thermal Chamber Ground Support Equipment Automated Control

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland An automated control system for the microshutter assembly (MSA) portion of the JWST MSS (James Webb Space Telescope Micro shutters Subsystem) was developed. This is a cryogenic device that operates at 35 K. Cooling down and warming back up is a critical activity since the arrays are very fragile. This process used to be manual. After seeing the difficulties of operating in this mode with the engineering test unit (ETU), a decision was made to develop a LabVIEW-based control system to monitor temperature sensors, and control the heater, cryocooler, and vacuum pumps. This system fully automated the process for warm-up and cool-down, and reduced the overall time it took in the process. A text message alert system was included so that members of a call tree were alerted if there were any violations of set constraints.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Visual Environment for Remote Virtual Exploration (VERVE) v2

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California VERVE is a 3D visualization system that provides situational awareness, science analysis tools, and data understanding capabilities for robotics researchers and exploration science operations. VERVE includes telemetry views that show remote system status, and can be extended to support various types of robots. VERVE is highly modular, extensible, and includes a 3D scenegraph database, interactive 3D viewer, and associated graphical user interfaces (GUIs) to OSGI (Java standards organization) plug-in based applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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