Tech Briefs

Algorithm Would Enable Robots to Solve Problems Creatively

A control architecture is based on hypotheses concerning natural intelligence.

A control architecture and algorithms to implement the architecture have been conceived to enable a robot to learn from its experiences and to combine knowledge gained from prior experiences in such a way as to be able to solve new problems. The architecture is an abstraction of an interacting system of relatively simple components that, when properly interconnected, should enable the spontaneous emergence of behaviors from the complete system that would not necessarily be expected from the individual components. These emergent behaviors should enable a robot to interact robustly and intelligently with a complex, dynamic environment.

Posted in: Briefs, Information Sciences, Mathematical models, Architecture, Artificial intelligence, Electronic control systems, Architecture, Artificial intelligence, Electronic control systems, Robotics
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Hypothetical Scenario Generator for Fault-Tolerant Diagnosis

This is a means of performing diagnostic reasoning when data are missing.

The Hypothetical Scenario Generator for Fault-tolerant Diagnostics (HSG) is an algorithm being developed in conjunction with other components of artificial- intelligence systems for automated diagnosis and prognosis of faults in spacecraft, aircraft, and other complex engineering systems. By incorporating prognostic capabilities along with advanced diagnostic capabilities, these developments hold promise to increase the safety and affordability of the affected engineering systems by making it possible to obtain timely and accurate information on the statuses of the systems and predicting impending failures well in advance.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Information Sciences, Artificial intelligence, Artificial intelligence, Diagnostics, Prognostics, Aircraft, Spacecraft
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Scanning Terahertz Heterodyne Imaging Systems

These systems could reveal a wealth of information on biological and material specimens.

Scanning terahertz heterodyne imaging systems are now at an early stage of development. They were recently conceived as means of probing biological specimens and samples of materials to obtain information complementary to that obtainable from imaging systems that utilize other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum (e.g., visible light or x rays). Emerging applications for scanning terahertz heterodyne imaging systems include studies of terahertz contrast mechanisms in biological samples, pumpprobe excitation of phonon modes in liquids and solids, studies of effects of terahertz irradiance on functions and forms of living cells, and studies of spectral signatures indicative of binding and structures of protein molecules.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Imaging, Imaging and visualization
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Master Clock and Time-Signal-Distribution System

This system has a modular, flexible architecture and is user-friendly.

A timing system comprising an electronic master clock and a subsystem for distributing time signals from the master clock to end users is undergoing development to satisfy anticipated timing requirements of NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) for the next 20 to 30 years. The developmental system is intended to supplant the aging DSN frequency and timing subsystem (FTS), which, while historically reliable, is complex, has limited distribution capacity and has become increasingly difficult to operate and sustain. This system has a modular, flexible, expandable architecture that is easier to operate and maintain than the present FTS. Replicas of this system could be useful in laboratories and other facilities in which there are stringent timing requirements that could include requirements to distribute precise time signals over long distances.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Calibration, Architecture, Wireless communication systems, Architecture, Wireless communication systems, Spacecraft
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Synchronous Phase-Resolving Flash Range Imaging

Complete range images are generated, without scanning, at a video frame rate.

The figure is a simplified diagram of an apparatus, now undergoing development, for range imaging based on measurement of the round-trip phase delay of a pulsed laser beam. Variants of this apparatus could be used to provide range information needed for navigation of autonomous robotic ground vehicles and robotic aircraft, and for navigation and aiming in numerous military applications.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Lasers, Navigation and guidance systems, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Lasers, Navigation and guidance systems, Robotics, Autonomous vehicles, Unmanned aerial vehicles
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Bar-Code System for a Microbiological Laboratory

Time is saved and the incidence of errors is greatly reduced.

A bar-code system (see figure) has been assembled for a microbiological laboratory that must examine a large number of samples. The system includes a commercial bar-code reader, computer hardware and software components, plus custom-designed database software. The software generates a user-friendly, menu-driven interface.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers, Identification, Test facilities
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Integrated Radial Probe Transition From MMIC to Waveguide

Packaging based on wire bonding would be supplanted by monolithic integration.

A radial probe transition between a monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) and a waveguide has been designed for operation at frequency of 340 GHz and to be fabricated as part of a monolithic unit that includes the MMIC. Integrated radial probe transitions like this one are expected to be essential components of future MMIC amplifiers operating at frequencies above 200 GHz. While MMIC amplifiers for this frequency range have not yet been widely used because they have only recently been developed, there are numerous potential applications for them — especially in scientific instruments, test equipment, radar, and millimeter- wave imaging systems for detecting hidden weapons.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Semiconductors & ICs, Integrated circuits, Waveguides, Integrated circuits, Waveguides, Test equipment and instrumentation
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MMIC Amplifier Produces Gain of 10 dB at 235 GHz

This is the fastest MMIC amplifier reported to date.

The first solid-state amplifier capable of producing gain at a frequency >215 GHz has been demonstrated. This amplifier is an intermediate product of a continuing effort to develop amplifiers having the frequency and gain characteristics needed for a forthcoming generation of remote-sensing instruments for detecting water vapor and possibly other atmospheric constituents. There are also other potential uses for such amplifiers in wide-band communications, automotive radar, and millimeter- wave imaging for inspecting contents of opaque containers.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Semiconductors & ICs, Amplifiers, Remote sensing, Amplifiers, Remote sensing, Test equipment and instrumentation
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Better Finite-Element Analysis of Composite Shell Structures

A computer program implements a finite-element-based method of predicting the deformations of thin aerospace structures made of isotropic materials or anisotropic fiber-reinforced composite materials. The technique and corresponding software are applicable to thin shell structures in general and are particularly useful for analysis of thin beamlike members having open cross-sections (e.g. I-beams and C-channels) in which significant warping can occur.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Aircraft structures, Finite element analysis, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Composite materials, Fibers
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Computing Spacecraft-Pointing Vectors for Limb Tracking

LMBTRK is a computer program that is used together with two software libraries known as ERHAND and HYBRRD to generate spacecraft-pointing vectors for limb-tracking maneuvers needed for experiments on propagation of radio signals through planetary atmospheres. LMBTRK determines, as a function of time, the direction in which one must point a ray (representing a radio beam) emitted by a spacecraft in order to make the ray pass through a planetary atmosphere on its way to a receiving station at a known location. LMBTRK was written for Sun computers running the Solaris operating system and has been running on a cluster of such computers used in the Radio Science System of the Cassini Spacecraft mission.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Spacecraft
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