Special Coverage

Soft Robot “Walks” on Any Terrain
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Using Microwaves to Produce High-Quality Graphene
Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines

Optimized Route Finding for Air and Ground Vehicles

This software provides near-real-time potential, and offers collision and adverse weather avoidance.

The Automated Impacts Routing (AIR) software is advanced route finding technology for air and ground vehicles. The software provides users the ability to find optimized paths through airspace or ground space, taking into consideration multiple and dynamic adverse conditions that can determine mission success or failure.

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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Automated Transfer Function Generator

When designing or analyzing electrical systems, it is important to understand the relationship between input and output. Power conversion occurs in a “black box,” and transfer functions can be used to provide a better understanding of the processes occurring in this black box. Although they provide a useful analysis tool, transfer functions are not often utilized because they require complicated, time-consuming derivation that ignores nonlinear behavior common in real-world systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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Ultralight, Scalable, High-Temperature-Resilient Ceramic Nanofiber Sponges

These sponges can be used for flexible insulation and water purification.

Researchers have made ultralight, highly porous, compressible, and heat-resistant sponge-like materials from nanoscale ceramic fibers. The highly deformable material is made by tangling ceramic nanofibers into a sponge. The method used is inexpensive and scalable for making large quantities.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials
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Overspeed Protection for Turbine Flowmeters in Cryogenic Applications

Flowmeters for cryogenic applications often fail in service. Turbine flowmeters in particular fail due to very high speeds encountered during chill-down operations. Very cold, very high-velocity gas causes the turbine to spin uncontrollably, which quickly degrades bearings. Those flowmeters that do not fail are often unreliable, degrading their effectiveness as instrumentation to monitor and control cryogenic propellant loading.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement
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Wireless Ultrasonic Inspection Propulsion System

During inspection of pressure vessels and other large structures, an industry-accepted fixture is used to hold the search unit a predetermined distance from the area of interest under inspection. This fixture is then moved manually around the area of interest so that data can be collected and stored for later analysis. The fixture usually is chosen based on price and versatility; automated propulsion is not an option. This results in lower-quality data, as well as a greater chance that an anomaly could be missed due to the erratic motion inherent with manual manipulation.

Posted in: Briefs, Propulsion
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Towed-Glider Airborne Launch System Cuts Costs and Increases Efficiency and Safety

NASA seeks partners to collaborate in the development of this new approach for putting satellites in space, enabling low-cost launch services.

Putting a satellite into low Earth orbit requires a lot of energy, with ground-launched rockets expending two-thirds of their propellant fighting to get through the atmosphere. Researchers at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center have developed an innovative approach to launching satellites into space from an airborne platform. As with other air-launch approaches, it provides significant flexibility in the location and direction of the launch vehicle. Furthermore, unlike other air-based launch techniques, this system avoids the significant drawbacks related to expensive and complex design/development efforts, difficult maneuvering, risks to crew, and inefficient flight performance.

Posted in: Briefs, Propulsion
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Products of Tomorrow: September 2017

This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. To learn more about each technology, see the contact information provided for that innovation.

Posted in: Articles, Electronics & Computers, Materials
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Handheld Device with Reagents for Detection and Diagnostics

The high risk associated with biological threat agents determines that any suspicious sample be handled under strict surety and safety controls, and processed under high-level containment in specialized laboratories. These specialized facilities are complex, very expensive to operate, and need to be staffed by personnel from an extremely limited pool of experts. In addition, safe means of transporting samples suspected of containing highly virulent agents to specialized high-level containment laboratories for analysis is also expensive, requiring, in many countries, the custody of armed personnel. It can be estimated that several million dollars are spent annually worldwide to secure and safely transport an increasing stream of suspicious biological samples that are collected in theaters of war, as well as in domestic environments.

Posted in: Briefs, Test & Measurement
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DIGITALIZATION: The New Critical Success Factor

The terms Industry 4.0, Big Data, the Internet of Things, and the Digital Factory are being pitched around like a rugby ball, and almost always with a decided lack of clear definition. Let’s set the record straight.

Posted in: Articles, Electronics & Computers, Sensors
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Passive High-Temperature Sealing Device

This device can stop the flow of gas or liquid in conditions of sudden overheating.

Asealing device was developed that acts as a high-temperature shutoff valve for pipes and ducts. The device is an annular ring that can be slipped over the outside of the pipe (or built into a flanged spool piece). The cavity inside the device is filled with a gas, liquid, or even a solid. When exposed to an elevated temperature, the material in the cavity expands, providing sufficient inward force to collapse the thinner process pipe wall, stopping flow within the pipe.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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