Mechanical Components

Workspace-Safe Operation of a Force- or Impedance-Controlled Robot

This technology can be used for automatic control of a robot that may come into contact with an object or operator in its workspace. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Precise motion control of a robot by controlling its various robotic manipulators may be organized by the required level of task specification. The levels include object-level control, which describes the ability to control the behavior of an object held in a single or a cooperative grasp of the robot; end-effector control, which is control of the various manipulators such as robotic fingers and thumbs; and joint-level control. Collectively, the various control levels achieve the required mobility, dexterity, and work task-related functionality.

Posted in: Mechanics, Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Cryogenic Mixing Pump with No Moving Parts

The pump is self-priming and can efficiently pump two-phase fluid. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio Refueling spacecraft in space offers tremendous benefits for increased payload capacity and reduced launch cost, but the problem of thermal stratification in long-term storage tanks presents a key challenge. To meet this challenge, a reliable, compact, lightweight, and efficient cryogenic mixing pump was developed with no moving parts. The pump uses an innovative thermodynamic process to generate fluid jets to promote fluid mixing. This thermodynamic process eliminates moving parts to generate pumping action. Inherent to its design, the pump is self-priming and can efficiently pump two-phase fluid. The device will significantly enhance the reliability of pressure control systems for storage tanks.

Posted in: Mechanics, Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Seal Design Feature for Redundancy Verification

The technology may be of interest to designers of high-altitude aircraft and submarine vessels. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas NASA has requirements for redundant seals to protect human-occupied cabin atmospheres, as well as fluid and gas systems in space vehicles exposed to the harsh environments. Comparable requirements have been passed down to the International Space Station (ISS) Program, and are now levied on the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV).

Posted in: Mechanics, Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Dexterous Humanoid Robot

This robot can replace human workers in dangerous, life-threatening conditions. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas A humanoid robot has been created that includes a torso, a pair of arms, a neck, and a head. The torso extends along a primary axis and presents a pair of shoulders. The pair of arms movably extends from the shoulders. Each of the arms is fully jointed. The neck movably extends from the torso along the primary axis, and has at least one neck joint. The head movably extends from the neck along the primary axis. The head has at least one head joint. The shoulders are canted toward one another at a shrug angle that is defined between each of the shoulders such that a workspace is defined between the shoulders.

Posted in: Mechanics, Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Tethered Vehicle Control and Tracking System

Kite-like wind energy generation systems can power a generator on the ground. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia This innovation can control the flight of a tethered vehicle, in an airborne wind energy (AWE) generation system, through the use of a pan-tilt platform and a visible spectrum digital camera, combined with tracking and control software running on a standard PC.

Posted in: Mechanics, Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Motion-Sensing Keyboard Lets Users Hover and Swipe

Microsoft engineers have developed a new type of augmented mechanical keyboard, sensing rich and expressive motion gestures performed both on and directly above the device. A low-resolution matrix of infrared (IR) proximity sensors is interspersed with the keys of a regular mechanical keyboard. This results in coarse, but high frame-rate motion data.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, PCs/Portable Computers, Mechanical Components, Sensors, Software, Mathematical/Scientific Software, News

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Pneumatic Sample Acquisition and Transfer System

This system can be used to collect samples from such hazardous areas as nuclear, extremely hot, and toxic environments. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Sampling, sample handling, and sample transfer to lander platforms of in situ exploration missions involve great technical challenges. These challenges are even harder to address when the planetary bodies have extreme environments. For example, Venus has an ambient temperature of around 460 °C, and atmospheric pressure that is over 90 times the atmosphere of Earth.

Posted in: Mechanics, Mechanical Components, Briefs

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