Special Coverage

Soft Robot “Walks” on Any Terrain
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Using Microwaves to Produce High-Quality Graphene
Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines

Flood Dashboard 2.0

Google Maps and Google Earth allow the development of customized displays, but such displays must be constructed by a software developer. The Flood Dashboard allows non-technical users to utilize a simple Web form to build and present custom displays. It is a Ruby on Rails 4 application that allows users to build custom geospatial displays, distribute bulletins, and show hydrological data in a clean Web display. This system allows users a greater situation awareness of hydrological activity that will hopefully enable decision-makers to respond more quickly and in a more informed manner to natural disasters.

Posted in: Briefs, Green Design & Manufacturing, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Terrain, Water, Displays, Displays, Disaster and emergency management, Emergency management
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Enterprise Business Information System (EBIS) Data Warehouse Quality Inspector

A typical data warehouse may contain thousands of tables. Validating the data quality of all data warehouse content is an unmanageable and unmaintainable task if handled in an ad-hoc fashion. This software seeks to ensure that a data warehouse accurately reflects the contents of the business systems that feed it, in turn guaranteeing accuracy of business reports. Data anomalies can occur due to breaks in processes, unexpected changes to business rules, upgrades, unanticipated data relationships, or inadequate testing. Inspecting the data after each batch load for anomalous conditions allows IT to respond quickly to such issues, and to deliver a higher-quality product to end users.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Data management, Logistics
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3D-Printed Heart-on-a-Chip with Integrated Sensors

This technique paves the way for more complex, customizable devices.

The first entirely 3D-printed organ-on-a-chip with integrated sensing has been built by a fully automated digital manufacturing procedure. The 3D-printed heart-on-a-chip can be quickly fabricated and customized, allowing researchers to easily collect reliable data for short-term and longterm studies.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Integrated circuits, Sensors and actuators, Integrated circuits, Sensors and actuators, Cardiovascular system, Medical equipment and supplies, Additive manufacturing
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Wireless Tamper Detection Sensor and Sensing System

The sensors can detect and locate cracks, material strain, or impact damage.

NASA's Langley Research Center researchers have developed a wireless, connection-free inductor capacitor sensor system that can be placed on or embedded in materials and structures to monitor for and detect damage. The sensors can also be used to detect package tampering and pilfering. This innovation — SansEC (Sans Electrical Connections) — makes sensors more damage-resilient and more environmentally friendly to manufacture and use.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors, Capacitors, Sensors and actuators, Wireless communication systems, Capacitors, Sensors and actuators, Wireless communication systems, Maintenance, Repair and Service Operations, Maintenance, repair, and service operations, Prognostics
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Network Geolocation Technology

This system is difficult to spoof, and does not generate false positives.

A network geolocation technology (NGT) can be used to determine the physical location of a networked Internet user, as well as accurately determine if an Internet user is in fact in the metropolitan service area that the user claims as his/her location. NGT is based on the laws of physics, and operates independent of an IP address lookup or any other pre-existing user network address profiles.

Posted in: Briefs, Software
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Water-Saving Firefighting Nozzle

This nozzle extinguishes fires faster and with far less water than existing systems.

Fluorocarbon-based fire extinguishing agents are environmentally harmful since they cause depletion of the Earth's ozone layer. Fine Water Mist (FWM)-type systems have very favorable characteristics as replacements for existing Halon systems. Typically, these systems include nozzles for creating misting fluids using pressurized gas, and continue to show favor as a mechanism for fire prevention. In these systems, a liquid is typically directed into a central bore of the nozzle, which directs a flow of high-velocity gas. In some nozzles, the velocity and pressure of the gas are increased in a narrowed throat area of the bore, causing the atomization of the fluid into small droplets as the gas travels through the nozzle.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components
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Robotic System for 3D-Printing the Basic Structure of an Entire Building

This technology could enable faster, cheaper, more adaptable building construction.

Materials that can be produced by 3D printing include not just plastics, but metal, glass, and even food. A new system called a Digital Construction Platform (DCP) was developed that can 3D-print the basic structure of an entire building. Structures built with the system could be produced faster and less expensively than traditional construction methods allow. A building could also be completely customized to the needs of a particular site and the desires of its maker. Even the internal structure could be modified in new ways; different materials could be incorporated as the process proceeds, and material density could be varied to provide optimum combinations of strength, insulation, or other properties. Ultimately, this approach could enable the design and construction of new kinds of buildings that would not be feasible with traditional building methods.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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Linear Fresnel Spectrometer Chip with Gradient Line Grating

A very small spectrometer was created by integrating a differential linear Fresnel lens onto an imaging chip.

NASA's Langley Research Center has built a very small spectrometer by integrating a differential linear Fresnel lens onto an imaging chip. NASA is using the lens/chip in a very small spectrometer that will be mounted on the tires of a rover to analyze soil on the Moon or Mars. The spectrometer is useful for space-constrained applications. It combines good resolution with small size and potentially reduced manufacturing costs. The ultra-compact integration of the spectrometer is enabled by the use of an optimized Fresnel grating. Since Fresnel imaging works as valid focal points of spectrum within the short optical distance, the shorter optical path length required (compared to a traditional Fraunhofer lens) enables the small size. Further, the evolution to a differentially linear Fresnel lens (instead of circular Fresnel) avoids the need for aperture slit driver electronics and moving parts, and simplifies manufacturing. The linear Fresnel gratings lend themselves to mass production via plastic injection molding or nano-imprint lithography. NASA is seeking partners to develop the spectrometer for commercial applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Imaging
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Method of Manufacturing Convective Accelerometers

Miniaturization and integration of accelerometers in standard integrated circuit (IC) processes has been the topic of extensive research. In most cases, accelerometer structures involve a solid proof mass that is allowed to move under accelerating conditions. This approach has many disadvantages. One key disadvantage is the difficulty of processing such components in IC technologies inherently unsuited for these components.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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Intelligent Displacement Sensor Deployment Using MTConnect Protocol over Ethernet

The protocol interfaces to an intelligent sensor and provides data gathering using a PC application.

Quality measurements for design validation and certification requirements sometimes call for hundreds or thousands of sensors and actuators. Maintaining such a complex system is difficult, especially over an extended time period and inevitable personnel changes. Many hours are spent tracking down sensor problems related to the sensor, associated cables, mounting hardware, or some part of the data acquisition system. These are expensive, labor-intensive hours that consume valuable technical resources.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors
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