Tech Briefs

Robot for Controlled Deposition of Multilayer Thin Film Structures

During deposition of thin film layers using shadow masking techniques, thin film layer structure morphology changes with respect to the position of the thin film layer and the shadow of the mask. Morphology changes in the thin film result in refractive index and density changes that affect the performance of the thin film layer in and around the shadow mask.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation

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Walk and Roll Robot

Applications include urban search and rescue, traversing harsh terrain for scientific exploration, and military reconnaissance and exploration. In smooth terrain, the most efficient motion to traverse the terrain is rolling. However, when a wheeled vehicle encounters obstacles, it must circumvent them if possible or choose an alternate path. Legged vehicles can traverse such obstacles by stepping over them, but are not energy efficient on smooth terrain. The Walk and Roll Robot combines walking and rolling capabilities for energy efficient motions. It utilizes a directed flux motor and epicyclical gear bearings to articulate the legs and wheels, which allows for a compact configuration and prevents gear backdrive. This compact design — where all of the components are contained within the body — allows the robot to be utilized for multiple applications, including those with harsh environments in which robots traditionally have difficulty with debris, moisture, or dust. Also, more efficient gaits utilizing walking and rolling have been developed using the Walk and Roll Robot.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation

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Human Grasp Assist Device with Exoskeleton

The Robo-Glove can be used in construction, hazardous material handling, manufacturing, repetitive motion work, and oil and gas exploration. Researchers at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC), in collaboration with General Motors (GM), have designed and developed Robo-Glove, a wearable human grasp assist device, to help reduce the grasping force needed by an individual to operate tools for an extended time or when performing tasks having repetitive mo tion. Robo-Glove has the potential to help workers, such as construction workers, hazardous material workers, or assembly line operators, whose job requires continuous grasping and ungrasping motion. The Robo-Glove also has potential applications in prosthetic devices, rehabilitation aids, and helping people with impaired or limited arm and hand muscle strength.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation

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Electromagnetic Monitoring and Control of a Plurality of Nanosatellites

This is a low-cost propulsion, navigation, and power sharing technology. NASA has developed an innovative combination of a Magnetometer, low-powered ElectroMagnets, and Res onant Inductive Coupling (MEMRIC) to create and control relative positioning of nanosatellites within a cluster. This is a game-changing approach to enable distributed nanosatellite (nanosat) clusters. The focus is on low-cost propulsion, navigation, and power sharing. Each of these functions can share the same basic technology. With the combination of a magnetometer, low-power electromagnets, and resonant inductive coupling, several nanosats can be clustered without the need of propellant- based propulsion systems, or GPS for relative positioning. By separating distinct subsystems into their own nanosat and producing them as generic, off-the-shelf components, the mission-design process is simplified, enabling the selection of the number of subsystem components that is most beneficial to the mission. The cost savings in the design cycle will pay for the extra off-the-shelf power unit.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation

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Elimination of Yaw Component of Gyroscope Propagation Error During Arm Activity in MSL

New approach reduces errors in remote sensing and arm placement. When updating attitude during arm motion, gyroscope propagation error soon becomes greater than the tilt being monitored. The solution is to add an accelerometer-only mode that can update attitude without using gyroscopes, and to add the ability to monitor pitch and roll separately. Accelerometer-only mode is used only when it is safe to assume that any vehicle shifting in yaw would also be accompanied by shifting in pitch and/or roll. For surface contact operations, it is important to monitor change in tilt of the vehicle resulting from arm motion.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation

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Locomotion of Amorphous Surface Robots

The self-contained designs eliminate immobility risks associated with locked wheels or legs due to dust or sand accumulation. NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed multiple ways for amorphous robots to autonomously move across a surface without needing conventional wheels or legs. Amorphous robots are useful in dusty and sandy environments in which greater mobility, passive shape changing, and immunity to dust and contamination are important. This includes both surface and subsurface robotic exploration. Amorphous robots are also useful in emergency and industrial activities, such as search and rescue (e.g., exploring rubble following an earthquake), and inspection of oil pipelines or sewage systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation

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Conduit Purging Device and Method

Applications include pneumatic or hydraulic tubing, high-purity gas processing, brake lines, automobiles, and aircraft.NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center invites companies to license this dead-end welding device for use in the welding of tubing. This technology solves the problem of unacceptable welds in dead-end configurations. The technique has been proven to be highly successful with many dead-end weld configurations, as well as with various alloys. It produces a consistently higher-quality dead-end weld than conventional welding techniques, and does so in a fraction of the time. Its monitoring capability enables precision control in any deadend configuration. It is a reliable and very low-maintenance device that presents no safety concerns.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Mechanics

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