Tech Briefs

Intersection-Controller Software Module

An important part of the emergencyvehicle traffic-light-preemption system summarized in the preceding article is a software module executed by a microcontroller in each intersection controller. This module monitors the broadcasts from all nearby participating emergency vehicles and intersections. It gathers the broadcast data pertaining to the positions and velocities of the vehicles and the timing of traffic and pedestrian lights and processes the data into predictions of the future positions of the vehicles. Analyzing the predictions by a combination of proximity tests, map-matching techniques, and statistical calculations designed to minimize the adverse effects of uncertainties in vehicle positions and headings, the module decides whether to preempt and issues the appropriate commands to the traffic lights, pedestrian lights, and electronic warning signs at the intersection. The module also broadcasts its state to all nearby vehicles and intersections. The module is designed to mitigate the effects of missing data and of unpredictable delays in the system. It has been intensively tested and refined so that it fails to warn in very few cases and issues very few false warnings.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software

Read More >>

Traffic-Light-Preemption Vehicle-Transponder Software Module

A prototype wireless data-communication and control system automatically modifies the switching of traffic lights to give priority to emergency vehicles. The system, which was reported in several NASA Tech Briefs articles at earlier stages of development, includes a transponder on each emergency vehicle, a monitoring and control unit (an intersection controller) at each intersection equipped with traffic lights, and a central monitoring subsystem. An essential component of the system is a software module executed by a microcontroller in each transponder. This module integrates and broadcasts data on the position, velocity, acceleration, and emergency status of the vehicle. The position, velocity, and acceleration data are derived partly from the Global Positioning System, partly from deductive reckoning, and partly from a diagnostic computer aboard the vehicle. The software module also monitors similar broadcasts from other vehicles and from intersection controllers, informs the driver of which intersections it controls, and generates visible and audible alerts to inform the driver of any other emergency vehicles that are close enough to create a potential hazard. The execution of the software module can be monitored remotely and the module can be upgraded remotely and, hence, automatically.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software

Read More >>

Powder-Collection System for Ultrasonic/Sonic Drill/Corer

Powder is blown from the drill/rock interface to sampling locations. A system for collecting samples of powdered rock has been devised for use in conjunction with an ultrasonic/sonic drill/corer (USDC) — a lightweight, lowpower apparatus designed to cut into, and acquire samples of, rock or other hard material for scientific analysis. The USDC was described in "Ultrasonic/Sonic Drill/Corers With Integrated Sensors" (), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 25, No. 1 (January 2001), page 38. To recapitulate: The USDC includes a drill bit, corer, or other tool bit, in which ultrasonic and sonic vibrations are excited by an electronically driven piezoelectric actuator. The USDC advances into the rock or other material of interest by means of a hammering action and a resulting chiseling action at the tip of the tool bit. The hammering and chiseling actions are so effective that unlike in conventional twist drilling, a negligible amount of axial force is needed to make the USDC advance into the material. Also unlike a conventional twist drill, the USDC operates without need for torsional restraint, lubricant, or a sharp bit.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components

Read More >>

Semiautomated, Reproducible Batch Processing of Soy

Processing conditions are selectable and are consistent from batch to batch. A computer-controlled apparatus processes batches of soybeans into one or more of a variety of food products, under conditions that can be chosen by the user and reproduced from batch to batch. Examples of products include soy milk, tofu, okara (an insoluble protein and fiber byproduct of soy milk), and whey. Most processing steps take place without intervention by the user. This apparatus was developed for use in research on processing of soy. It is also a prototype of other soy-processing apparatuses for research, industrial, and home use.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

Read More >>

Simulation of Laser Cooling and Trapping in Engineering Applications

This design instrument shows good agreement with experimental measurements. An advanced computer code is undergoing development for numerically simulating laser cooling and trapping of large numbers of atoms. The code is expected to be useful in practical engineering applications and to contribute to understanding of the roles that light, atomic collisions, background pressure, and numbers of particles play in experiments using laser-cooled and -trapped atoms. The code is based on semiclassical theories of the forces exerted on atoms by magnetic and optical fields. Whereas computer codes developed previously for the same purpose account for only a few physical mechanisms, this code incorporates many more physical mechanisms (including atomic collisions, sub-Doppler cooling mechanisms, Stark and Zeeman energy shifts, gravitation, and evanescent-wave phenomena) that affect laser-matter interactions and the cooling of atoms to submillikelvin temperatures. Moreover, whereas the prior codes can simulate the interactions of at most a few atoms with a resonant light field, the number of atoms that can be included in a simulation by the present code is limited only by computer memory. Hence, the present code represents more nearly completely the complex physics involved when using laser-cooled and -trapped atoms in engineering applications.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Information Sciences

Read More >>

Domain Compilation for Embedded Real-Time Planning

Robustness is increased at the price of a moderate increase in complexity.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Information Sciences

Read More >>

Method of Real-Time Principal-Component Analysis

Hardware can be simplified. Dominant element-based gradient descent and dynamic initial learning rate (DOGEDYN) is a method of sequential principal component analysis (PCA) that is well suited for such applications as data compression and extraction of features from sets of data. In comparison with a prior method of gradient-descent based sequential PCA, this method offers a greater rate of learning convergence. Like the prior method, DOGEDYN can be implemented in software. However, the main advantage of DOGEDYN over the prior method lies in the facts that it requires less computation and can be implemented in simpler hardware. It should be possible to implement DOGEDYN in compact, lowpower, very-large-scale integrated (VLSI) circuitry that could process data in real time.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Information Sciences

Read More >>

The U.S. Government does not endorse any commercial product, process, or activity identified on this web site.