Mechanical Components

Rotary Microspine Technology

A new design improves the mobility of manportable reconnaissance robots. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Mobility for small, man-portable reconnaissance robots in the past has been limited with regard to obstacles like curbs, stairs, and vertical walls. A previous innovation overcame these obstacles by introducing rotary microspines — sharp hooks supported by elastic elements on a wheel. In this innovation, the work has been advanced with a new microspine design that eliminates the need for elastomer materials or the inserted hook.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Rotary Microspine Technology

A new design improves the mobility of man-portable reconnaissance robots. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Mobility for small, man-portable reconnaissance robots in the past has been limited with regard to obstacles like curbs, stairs, and vertical walls. A previous innovation overcame these obstacles by introducing rotary microspines — sharp hooks supported by elastic elements on a wheel. In this innovation, the work has been advanced with a new microspine design that eliminates the need for elastomer materials or the inserted hook.

Posted in: Mechanics, Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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Percussive Augmenter of Rotary Drills for Operation as a Rotary-Hammer Drill

New rotary drill bits designed for percussive or ultrasonic hammering convert rotary drills/samplers into rotary-hammering drills/samplers. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California A piezoelectrically actuated percussive bit augments rotary drills to form a rotary-hammering drill/sampler. The Percussive Augmenter of Rotary Drills (PARoD) bit has two key modalities: one with vibrating free-mass and one without. In the first modality, the bit is designed to rotate the tip and transmit the impact of a free mass, while the complete bit turns as a single unit. In the second modality, the ultrasonic hammering action from the piezoelectric stack and the rotation from a commercial drill are applied directly to the drilled object. The PARoD tool includes slots to ensure that the tip of the bit does not rotate separately from the piezoelectric actuator. The bit employs electric and mechanical slip rings to transfer electric power, as well as water (for removal of cuttings and bit cooling), while freely turning the bit. The cooling plumbing can be connected to the related fixtures on heavy-duty commercial rotary drills.

Posted in: Mechanics, Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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Non-Collinear Valve Actuator

This device separates the actions of the pneumatic actuator and the spring. Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama Typical large aerospace valves use pneumatic actuators with large return springs to define a normal state. These springs are exclusively in line with the pneumatic actuator, and therefore are forced to have the same stroke and forces. These typical systems use either a large helical spring or a stack of Bellville springs. Each is long to ensure that the forces at the end of stroke are large enough to move the valve to the normal position with some margin. This invention reconfigures the actuator through the use of either a drag-link four-bar system or a cam to separate these two motions. The spring is allowed to have larger loads with significantly short spring stack length. This eliminates the need for long housings, heavy springs, and thus reduces the mass of the flight system. This configuration can be used for commercial valve actuators. Although commercial actuators generally do not have weight limitations, the reduction of the massive spring could reduce the cost of the product.

Posted in: Mechanics, Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Aircraft Wings Change Shape in Flight

The EU project SARISTU (Smart Intelligent Aircraft Structures) aims to reduce kerosene consumption by six percent, and integrating flexible landing devices into aircraft wings is one step towards that target. A new mechanism alters the landing flap’s shape to dynamically accommodate the airflow. Algorithms to control the required shape modifications in flight were programmed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano Systems ENAS in Chemnitz, in collaboration with colleagues from the Italian Aerospace Research Center (CIRA) and the University of Naples."We’ve come up with a silicon skin with alternate rigid and soft zones,” Said Andreas Lühring from Fraunhofer IFAM. “There are five hard and three soft zones, enclosed within a silicon skin cover extending over the top.”The mechanism sits underneath the soft zones, the areas that are most distended. While the novel design is noteworthy, it is the material itself that stands out, since the flexible parts are made of elastomeric foam that retains their elasticity even at temperatures ranging from -55 to 80° Celsius.Four 90-centimeter-long prototypes — two of which feature skin segments — are already undergoing testing.SourceAlso: Learn about Active Wing Shaping Control.

Posted in: Materials, Mechanical Components, Aerospace, Aviation, News

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Head-Mounted Display Latency Measurement Rig

This technique can be used to characterize systems for product improvement by virtual/augmented reality display manufacturers. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia The device and method are used to quantify end-to-end latency of head- or helmet-mounted display with head tracking systems in a laboratory or in situ. All commercial or custom head-mounted display systems that track the user’s head for the purpose of virtual or augmented reality applications encounter positional display errors due to system latency. A basic head-mounted display (HMD) with head-tracking system is comprised of (1) a near-to-eye display, (2) the head-tracking system, (3) one or more symbology or image sources, and (4) the display/image processor. Each element, and the communication among them, contributes a portion to the total latency. HMD system latency manifests as erroneous alignment of the virtual and real surroundings as the head is slewed, and is known to induce simulator sickness and other physiological issues. Therefore, minimal system latency is a design goal to reduce these physiological symptoms. The overall latency budget is the sum of time required to measure the dynamic head position, communicate the position to the display processor, compute the scene based on the position, integrate imagery, and render the scene to the display.

Posted in: Mechanics, Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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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, TSP

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