Motion Control

Naval Shipyard Automates Dry Dock Operation

Pearl Harbor Naval Station and Hickam Air Force Base have grown up together around the historic port known as Wai’Momi, adjacent to Honolulu. Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard (PHNSY), located at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, is a one-stop regional maintenance center for the Navy’s surface ships and submarines. It is the only intermediate maintenance facility for submarines in the Middle Pacific.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Motion Control, Maintenance, Repair and Service Operations, Maintenance, repair, and service operations, Automation, Marine vehicles and equipment
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Wing-Flapping Aircraft Hovers and Flies

Life-sized, hummingbird-like, unmanned surveillance aircraft weighs two-thirds of an ounce, including batteries and video camera.

The Nano Hummingbird is a miniature aircraft developed under the Nano Air Vehicle (NAV) program funded through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). DARPA was established to prevent strategic surprise from negatively impacting U.S. national security, and to create strategic surprise for U.S. adversaries by maintaining the technological superiority of the U.S. military. The agency relies on diverse performers to apply multidisciplinary approaches to advance knowledge through basic research, and create innovative technologies that address current practical problems through applied research.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Motion Control, Product development, Military aircraft
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Motion Control System Gives Farmers a Hands-Free Approach in Vehicles

The important job of a farmer requires long hours of field work. The often monotonous tasks of driving agricultural vehicles to work long rows in the field — whether it be planting, maintenance, or harvesting — is undeniably arduous and fraught with potential for human error. With advances in the development of mechanical steering devices, farmers can now program steering patterns to allow their vehicles to operate hands-free and more accurately than ever before.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Motion Control, Steering systems, Human factors, Agricultural vehicles and equipment
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Compact Active Vibration Control System

A highly directional actuator can be shaped so that it couples to the response of a flexible structure in the same manner as point sensors.

This innovation consists of an analog controller, diamond-shaped patch actuator, and point sensors (such as accelerometers). The actuator is designed to couple to the flexural response of the structure in the same manner as a group of point sensors. This results in a co-located transducer pair. The signals from all sensors are combined, filtered, and amplified within the analog controller. The resulting signal is then applied to the actuator, which generates a control force out-of-phase with the measured response. Because the transducers are co-located, the vibration control system is inherently robust to variations in properties of the underlying structure that is being controlled. This type of control system actively suppresses the vibration of a flexible structure using surface-mounted transducers without any external mechanical connections.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Motion Control, Electronic control systems, Electronic control systems, Vibration, Vibration
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Deep Throttling Turbopump

Advancement in space exploration necessitates deep throttling of liquid cryogenic rocket engines. Both lunar and Martian robotic and human exploration require engines that can be deep throttled,can start and restart, have a long life, and require minimal maintenance. An engine that is capable of deep throttling at low thrust levels and is versatile enough to accommodate multiple applications would advance the state of the art and enable NASA to meet space exploration objectives. An advanced partial emission turbo pump design is an enabling technology for developing such low thrust level engines. This will complement the current state-of-the-art full emission pump technology.

Posted in: Briefs, Motion Control, Rocket engines, Throttles
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Analyzing Rollover Stability of Capsules With Airbags Using LS-Dyna

This method interpolates data to predict the stability boundaries for a capsule on airbags.

As NASA moves towards developing technologies needed to implement its new Exploration program, studies conducted for Apollo in the 1960s to understand the rollover stability of capsules landing are being revisited. Although rigid body kinematics analyses of the rollover behavior of capsules on impact provided critical insight to the Apollo problem, extensive ground test programs were also used. For the new Orion spacecraft, airbag designs have improved sufficiently for NASA to consider their use to mitigate landing loads to ensure crew safety and to enable reusability of the capsule.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Motion Control, Stability control, Airbag systems, Spacecraft
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Test Fixture for Isolation of Vibration Shaker from G-Loading

Combined testing is possible in a controlled, calibrated, and repetitive manner.

The first step in implementing the capability to test sensitive launch vehicle instruments in a combined environment has been completed. The test environment consists of specific vibration spectra induced under sustained Gs, using NASTAR’s ATFS-400 centrifuge. Fixtures allow mounting of the device under test (DUT) to a vibrational shaker in a centrifuge for generating moderate G-loading (1.4 to 9G) such that the vibrational shaker’s capabilities are only slightly affected by the G-loads applied during testing. Two configurations were designed, with the vibrational load parallel to the G-loads, and with the vibration loads transverse (at right angles) to the G-loads. The results are extremely encouraging, and demonstrate the potential of the NASTAR centrifuge to perform this kind of combined testing in a controlled, calibrated, and repetitive manner.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Motion Control, Aircraft instruments, Aircraft instruments, Vibration, Vibration, Launch vehicles
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Rotary Series Elastic Actuator

The actuator provides motion and sensing for the degrees of freedom in the upper arm of a dexterous humanoid robot.

In order to perform human-like movement, an actuator is placed at each degree of freedom (DOF) in a humanoid robot. Additionally, these actuators must be packaged in an arrangement that approximates human structure and appearance. In this innovation, a rotary actuator assembly incorporates a brushless DC motor, a gear reduction, a variety of sensors, and a custom planar torsion spring to provide motive force, passive compliance, and torque sensing within an anthropomorphic package. The actuator, in various size scales, was designed for the humanoid robot described in “Dexterous Humanoid Robot,” (MSC-24739), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 38, No. 6 (June 2014), p. 52.

Posted in: Briefs, Motion Control, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators, Robotics
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Probe Positioning System for Antenna Range

Three or more cables provide the desired positioning.

In situ measurements of antenna patterns on rovers in a simulated terrain are difficult to make with conventional antenna range techniques. The desired pattern data covers a hemisphere above the antenna of interest, which is close to the ground. This is incompatible with traditional measurements that place the antenna under test on a movable support that tilts and rotates.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Motion Control, Antennas, Sensors and actuators, Antennas, Sensors and actuators, Spacecraft
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Fluidic Actuators with No Moving Parts

Two new fluidic actuator designs were developed to control fluid flow in ways that will ultimately result in improved system performance and fuel efficiency in to improve the aerodynamic performance of a variety of vehicles. These flow control actuators, often referred to as fluidic oscillators or sweeping jet actuators, utilize the Coanda effect to generate spatially oscillating bursts (or jets). They can be embedded directly into a control surface (such as a wing or a turbine blade) to help reduce flow separation, increase lift, reduce drag, enhance mixing, or increase heat transfer. Recent studies show up to a 60% performance enhancement (such as increased lift or reduced drag) with fluidic actuators.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Motion Control, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators, Aerodynamics
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