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Contact State Estimation for Multi-Finger Robot Hands Using Particle Filters

This method identifies the location, orientation, and shape of an object touched by a robot hand. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas A method, using a particle filter, has been created for identifying the location, orientation, and shape of an object that a robot hand touches. An appropriate motion model has been defined that characterizes the motion of the robot hand as it moves relative to an object. The measurement model also estimates the likelihood of an observation of contact position, velocity, and tactile sensor information given handobject states, and is approximated analytically based on a geometric model, or on a corpus of training data. In either case, the measurement model distribution is encoded as a Gaussian, or using radial basis functions.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Tendon-Driven Finger, Wrist, and Thumb Actuation System

This mini-manipulator for use in a humanoid robot system has size, strength, and dexterity comparable to that of a human. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas The Robonaut 2 (R2) Dexterous Robot is the result of an effort to build a two-armed, ten-fingered humanoid robot torso capable of assembly work. This invention concerns a multi-fingered hand, and is composed of several parts. One is a tendon-driven, four-link, four-degree-of-freedom robotic thumb. Another is an extrinsic actuation system for tendon-driven fingers. The final part is a wrist mechanism with a large range of motion capable of high strength and speed while maintaining human wrist range of motion. The wrist provides pass-through capability for extrinsic hand actuation.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Visual-Aided Inertial Navigation for Computationally Constrained Aerial Vehicles

System tracks points and edges, and previous vehicle poses. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) are lightweight, highly dynamic vehicles with limited payload, sensing, and computation capabilities. There is significant interest to automate MAVs for military surveillance, reconnaissance, and search-and-rescue missions. The current state of the art in MAV control utilizes an external system of cameras or other sensors to localize the vehicle during flight. Precise MAV localization using onboard computing and sensing resources is required for missions in unknown indoor and outdoor environments. In general MAVs may only operate using a low-performance inertial measurement unit and a single camera, with use of other sensors such as GPS or altimeters being limited by payload or environmental constraints.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Robotic Surgical Devices, Systems, and Related Methods

These robots are designed to perform surgical procedures in a dexterous workspace. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Various advancements have been made in the development of miniature in vivo surgical robots. These robots are designed to perform Laparoendo scopic Single-Site Surgery (LESS). After being inserted through a single incision, these robots can perform surgical procedures in a dexterous workspace. Each robot consists of two halves, and each half is inserted individually through a single incision. Each half can be stepped through preset orientations as it is inserted to overcome the obstacle of limited space. Once both halves are inside the abdominal cavity, control rods protruding through the single incision allow for proper alignment. A central mounting rod is then used to mate the halves together and support the robot. The central mounting rod allows for an endoscope to be inserted through the central mounting rod, between each robot half, to provide visual feedback for surgery. The system allows for three-degree-of-freedom motion of the endoscope. Additionally, an onboard camera can be utilized. The cavity is then sealed and insulated to allow for surgery. The central control rod allows for reorientation of the robot into all four quadrants of the abdominal cavity by external rotation of the rod.

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

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Ship Classification Using Gnostic Fields

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California There are many applications for Autonomous Seaborne Vessels (ASVs). The seaborne cargo shipping industry moves over 9 billion tons of cargo per year, is worth $375 billion, and is responsible for 90 percent of world trade. Autonomous cargo ships could reduce the operating expenses of cargo ships by 44%. ASVs can also be used by the military for surveillance, and for autopilot of pleasure ships.

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

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Tension-Stiffened and Tendon-Actuated Space Manipulators

Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia The Space Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (SRMS) and Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) have proven the benefit of long-reach manipulators, with the reach of both manipulators in the l5-18-m class. Manipulators with greater reach provide many benefits. The SRMS’s limited reach required an additional 12-m boom to augment its reach during inspection of the belly of the SRMS in support of return to flight following the Columbia disaster.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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NASA Tensegrity Robotics Toolkit (NTRT) v1

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California Tensegrity robots have many unique properties useful for robots intended to operate in natural settings, yet the exploration of how to build and control such robots is just beginning. Many of their positive qualities, such as multipath force distribution, compliance, and their oscillatory nature, also make them very challenging for traditional control approaches.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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