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Lightweight Internal Device to Measure Tension in Hollow- Braided Cordage
System, Apparatus, and Method for Pedal Control
Dust Tolerant Connectors
Foldable and Deployable Power Collection System
Iodine-Compatible Hall Effect Thruster
Development of a Novel Electrospinning System with Automated Positioning and Control Software
2016 Create The Future Design Contest Open For Entries
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Stochastic Evolutionary Algorithms for Planning Robot Paths

A computer program implements stochastic evolutionary algorithms for planning and optimizing collision-free paths for robots and their jointed limbs. Stochastic evolutionary algorithms can be made to produce acceptably close approximations to exact, optimal solutions for path-planning problems while often demanding much less computation than do exhaustive-search and deterministic inverse-kinematics algorithms that have been used previously for this purpose. Hence, the present software is better suited for application aboard robots having limited computing capabilities (see figure). The stochastic aspect lies in the use of simulated annealing to (1) prevent trapping of an optimization algorithm in local minima of an energylike error measure by which the fitness of a trial solution is evaluated while (2) ensuring that the entire multidimensional configuration and parameter space of the path-planning problem is sampled efficiently with respect to both robot joint angles and computation time. Simulated annealing is an established technique for avoiding local minima in multidimensional optimization problems, but has not, until now, been applied to planning collision-free robot paths by use of low-power computers.

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Tracking the Martian CO2 Polar Ice Caps in Infrared Images

Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have developed a method for automatically tracking the polar caps on Mars as they advance and recede each year (see figure). The seasonal Mars polar caps are composed mainly of CO2 ice and are therefore cold enough to stand out clearly in infrared data collected by the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) onboard the Mars Odyssey spacecraft. The Bimodal Image Temperature (BIT) histogram analysis algorithm analyzes raw, uncalibrated data to identify images that contain both “cold” (“polar cap”) and “warm” (“not polar cap”) pixels. The algorithm dynamically identifies the temperature that separates these two regions. This flexibility is critical, because in the absence of any calibration, the threshold temperature can vary significantly from image to image. Using the identified threshold, the algorithm classifies each pixel in the image as “polar cap” or “not polar cap,” then identifies the image row that contains the spatial transition from “polar cap” to “not polar cap.” While this method is useful for analyzing data that has already been returned by THEMIS, it has even more significance with respect to data that has not yet been collected. Instead of seeking the polar cap only in specific, targeted images, the simplicity and efficiency of this method makes it feasible for direct, onboard use. That is, THEMIS could continuously monitor its observations for any detections of the polar-cap edge, producing detections over a wide range of spatial and temporal conditions. This effort can greatly contribute to our understanding of long-term climatic change on Mars.

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Rapid Aeroelastic Analysis of Blade Flutter in Turbomachines

The LINFLUX-AE computer code predicts flutter and forced responses of blades and vanes in turbomachines under subsonic, transonic, and supersonic flow conditions. The code solves the Euler equations of unsteady flow in a blade passage under the assumption that the blades vibrate harmonically at small amplitudes. The steady-state nonlinear Euler equations are solved by a separate program, then equations for unsteady flow components are obtained through linearization around the steadystate solution. A structural-dynamics analysis (see figure) is performed to determine the frequencies and mode shapes of blade vibrations, a preprocessor interpolates mode shapes from the structural-dynamics mesh onto the LINFLUX computational- fluid-dynamics mesh, and an interface code is used to convert the steady-state flow solution to a form required by LINFLUX. Then LINFLUX solves the linearized equations in the frequency domain to calculate the unsteady aerodynamic pressure distribution for a given vibration mode, frequency, and interblade phase angle. A postprocessor uses the unsteady pressures to calculate generalized aerodynamic forces, response amplitudes, and eigenvalues (which determine the flutter frequency and damping). In comparison with the TURBO-AE aeroelasticanalysis code, which solves the equations in the time domain, LINFLUX-AE is 6 to 7 times faster.

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Implementing Access to Data Distributed on Many Processors

A reference architecture is defined for an object-oriented implementation of domains, arrays, and distributions written in the programming language Chapel.

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2D/3D Visual Tracker for Rover Mast

A visual-tracker computer program controls an articulated mast on a Mars rover to keep a designated feature (a target) in view while the rover drives toward the target, avoiding obstacles. Several prior visual tracker programs have been tested on rover platforms; most require very small and well-estimated motion between consecutive image frames — a requirement that is not realistic for a rover on rough terrain. The present visual-tracker program is designed to handle large image motions that lead to significant changes in feature geometry and photometry between frames. When a point is selected in one of the images acquired from stereoscopic cameras on the mast, a stereo triangulation algorithm computes a three-dimensional (3D) location for the target. As the rover moves, its body-mounted cameras feed images to a visual-odometry algorithm, which tracks two-dimensional (2D) corner features and computes their old and new 3D locations. The algorithm rejects points, the 3D motions of which are inconsistent with a rigid-world constraint, and then computes the apparent change in the rover pose (i.e., translation and rotation). The mast pan and tilt angles needed to keep the target centered in the field-ofview of the cameras (thereby minimizing the area over which the 2D-tracking algorithm must operate) are computed from the estimated change in the rover pose, the 3D position of the target feature, and a model of kinematics of the mast. If the motion between the consecutive frames is still large (i.e., 3D tracking was unsuccessful), an adaptive view-based matching technique is applied to the new image. This technique uses correlation-based template matching, in which a feature template is scaled by the ratio between the depth in the original template and the depth of pixels in the new image. This is repeated over the entire search window and the best correlation results indicate the appropriate match. The program could be a core for building application programs for systems that require coordination of vision and robotic motion.

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Measurement and Controls Data Acquisition System

Measurement and Controls Data Acquisition System (MCDAS) is an application program that integrates the functions of two stand-alone programs: one for acquisition of data, the other for controls.

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Adding Hierarchical Objects to Relational Database General-Purpose XML-Based Information Managements

NETMARK is a flexible, high-throughput software system for managing, storing, and rapid searching of unstructured and semi-structured documents. NETMARK transforms such documents from their original highly complex, constantly changing, heterogeneous data formats into well structured, common data formats in using Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and/or Extensible Markup Language (XML). The software implements an object-relational database system that combines the best practices of the relational model utilizing Structured Query Language (SQL) with those of the object oriented, semantic database model for creating complex data. In particular, NETMARK takes advantage of the Oracle 8i object-relational database model using physical-address data types for very efficient keyword searches of records across both context and content. NETMARK also supports multiple international standards such as WEBDAV for drag-and-drop file management and SOAP for integrated information management using Web services. The document-organization and -searching capabilities afforded by NETMARK are likely to make this software attractive for use in disciplines as diverse as science, auditing, and law enforcement.

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