Special Coverage

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
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing

Integrated High-Speed Torque Control System for a Robotic Joint

This highly dexterous humanoid robot is designed to handle complex and delicate operations.

Researchers at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC), in collaboration with General Motors and Oceaneering, have designed a state-of-the-art, highly dexterous, humanoid robot: Robonaut 2 (R2). R2's nearly 50 patented and patent-pending technologies have the potential to be game-changers in multiple industries, including logistics and distribution. Even though R2 is currently designed with only a mobile upper body, R2's ability to accomplish complex and delicate operations provides a higher level of sophistication not currently seen in the existing robotics field for logistics and distribution. In terms of handling inventory, R2's dexterity would allow it to handle a multitude of items, including delicate ones. R2 can safely work in close proximity to humans, making the robot suitable to work in complex environments such as distribution centers. R2 has the ability to operate equipment and machines designed for humans, like handheld power tools or inventory-scanning equipment. R2's design enables many useful applications in logistics and distribution.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation
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Developing a Satellite-Based Autonomous Vehicle Control System

This system incorporates a satellite system, multiple sensors, and vehicle control system.

The rapid rise of global interest in the field of autonomous driving is ushering in a new era of automobiles. With many vehicles already offering autonomous preventative safety systems, the addition of improved road infrastructure could increase the reliability and maturity of autonomous driving functions, ultimately increasing the driver's sense of safety.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation
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Wearable Robotic System for Minimally Invasive Surgery

This tool supports and enhances the surgeon's performance in urology, cardiovascular, and orthopedic fields.

Researchers developed a wearable robotic system for minimally invasive surgery (also known as keyhole surgery) that will offer surgeons natural and dexterous movement, as well as the ability to sense, see, control, and safely navigate through the surgical environment. The need for better tools in robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery was identified to support and enhance the surgeon's performance in urology, cardiovascular, and orthopedic fields, and to expand the potential for this technology to more complex surgical procedures.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation
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Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems

Potential applications include networked autonomous cars and delivery drones in which security would be a major issue.

Multi-robot systems deployed in real-world applications are exposed to the same issues that computer systems face. A cybersecurity attack on a robot has the consequences of an attack on a computer system, with the added risk that the robot could be controlled to take potentially damaging action.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation
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Linear Rope Brake System for Aerial Delivery

This system helps reduce loss of any supplies that are lowered to the ground.

There are instances when items (e.g., supplies) need to be lowered from an aerial vehicle to the ground. For example, the United States military often lowers supplies from a rotary winged aircraft (e.g., a helicopter) to ground troops. In some instances, there is even a need to deliver mission essential supplies to ground troops engaged in enemy combat. Rotary wing aircraft are typically the transport platform for these supplies. Many times, the aircraft cannot land, and supplies are free-dropped from as high as 150 feet above the ground. Losses of badly needed supplies such as medicine, ammunition, water, and food are high due to the free drop.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation
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Origami-Inspired Robot Fits in Tight Spaces

The folding robot can ride aboard a rover to help explore rough terrains.

Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) were inspired by origami when they developed the Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robot (PUFFER). Its lightweight design — which can hitch a ride aboard a rover — can flatten itself, tucking in its wheels and crawling into places that larger robots can't fit. Over the past year and a half, PUFFER has been tested in a range of rugged terrains, from the Mojave Desert in California to the snowy hills of Antarctica. The idea is to explore areas that might be too risky for a full-fledged rover to go, such as steep slopes or behind sand dunes.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation
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Software Interface Simplifies Robot Control

A point-and-click method increases efficiency while decreasing errors.

The traditional interface for remotely operating robots works well for roboticists. They use a computer screen and mouse to independently control six degrees of freedom, turning three virtual rings and adjusting arrows to get the robot into position to grab items or perform a specific task. But for someone who isn't an expert, the ring-and-arrow system is cumbersome and error-prone. It's not ideal, for example, for older people trying to control assistive robots at home.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation
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Composite C-Channel Incrementally Adjustable Fluid Control System

The system can be disassembled for relocation without much difficulty.

The ability to selectively adjust levels and flow rates in fluid control systems is a fundamental aspect of dredged material and fluid management, and necessary to numerous farm and industrial processes. Historically, fluid management structures such as gates and weirs offer limited options for controlling levels and volume. Installation is generally permanent, with modifications being difficult and expensive. Critical flow rate adjustments can be severely limited, and maintaining antiquated systems requires hazardous maneuvers dependent on extensive manpower.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation
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Modular Climbing Robot Splits into Multiple Explorer Bots

A prototype of the Detachable Compliant Modular Robot (DCMR).

Researchers from the Robotics Research Centre at the International Institute of Technology – Hyderabad (IIIT-H), have developed a stair and obstacle climbing robot that can disassemble itself into smaller robots, and then reassemble back into one device. As a composite system, the Detachable Compliant Modular Robot (DCMR) can climb steep obstacles and staircases, and explore uneven terrain. When it detaches into multiple robots, it can explore cramped spaces, traverse flat terrain, and behave as a Multi Agent System (MAS).

Posted in: News, Motion Control, Robotics
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Commercial Drones: High-Tech Toy or Security Risk?

Although radio controlled drones provide beneficial “eye in the sky” services such as search and rescue, they also raise serious privacy and safety concerns. The growing number of affordable drones capable of carrying payloads of 100 grams up to a few kilograms has resulted in the need for effective detection and monitoring solutions.

Posted in: Dynamic White Papers, Automation, Robotics
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