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

Improved CLARAty Functional-Layer/Decision-Layer Interface

Improved interface software for communication between the CLARAty Decision and Functional layers has been developed. [The Coupled Layer Architecture for Robotics Autonomy (CLARAty) was described in “Coupled-Layer Robotics Architecture for Autonomy” (NPO-21218), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 26, No. 12 (December 2002), page 48. To recapitulate: the CLARAty architecture was developed to improve the modularity of robotic software while tightening coupling between planning/execution and basic control subsystems. Whereas prior robotic software architectures typically contained three layers, the CLARAty contains two layers: a decision layer (DL) and a functional layer (FL).] Types of communication supported by the present software include sending commands from DL modules to FL modules and sending data updates from FL modules to DL modules.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Information Sciences, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Robotics
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JAVA Stereo Display Toolkit

This toolkit provides a common interface for displaying graphical user interface (GUI) components in stereo using either specialized stereo display hardware (e.g., liquid crystal shutter or polarized glasses) or anaglyph display (red/blue glasses) on standard workstation displays. An application using this toolkit will work without modification in either environment, allowing stereo software to reach a wider audience without sacrificing high-quality display on dedicated hardware.

Posted in: Briefs, Information Sciences, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Human machine interface (HMI), Displays, Displays
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PyPele Rewritten To Use MPI

A computer program known as “PyPele,” originally written as a Python-language extension module of a C++ language program, has been rewritten in pure Python language. The original version of PyPele dispatches and coordinates parallel- processing tasks on cluster computers and provides a conceptual framework for spacecraft-mission- design and -analysis software tools to run in an embarrassingly parallel mode. The original version of PyPele uses SSH (Secure Shell — a set of standards and an associated network protocol for establishing a secure channel between a local and a remote computer) to coordinate parallel processing. Instead of SSH, the present Python version of PyPele uses Message Passing Interface (MPI) [an unofficial de-facto standard language-independent application programming interface for message-passing on a parallel computer] while keeping the same user interface.

Posted in: Briefs, Information Sciences, Architecture, Communication protocols, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Architecture, Communication protocols, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware
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Pattern-Recognition System for Approaching a Known Target

Multiple image features are utilized in a multiphase data-fusion process.

A closed-loop pattern-recognition system is designed to provide guidance for maneuvering a small exploratory robotic vehicle (rover) on Mars to return to a landed spacecraft to deliver soil and rock samples that the spacecraft would subsequently bring back to Earth. The system could be adapted to terrestrial use in guiding mobile robots to approach known structures that humans could not approach safely, for such purposes as reconnaissance in military or law-enforcement applications, terrestrial scientific exploration, and removal of explosive or other hazardous items.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Information Sciences, Mathematical models, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Spacecraft guidance, Surveillance, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Spacecraft guidance, Surveillance, Hazards and emergency management, Hazards and emergency operations, Entry, descent, and landing
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Orchestrator Telemetry Processing Pipeline

A multi-platform architecture is used to build and manage a telemetry-processing pipeline.

Orchestrator is a software application infrastructure for telemetry monitoring, logging, processing, and distribution. The architecture has been applied to support operations of a variety of planetary rovers. Built in Java with the Eclipse Rich Client Platform, Orchestrator can run on most commonly used operating systems. The pipeline supports configurable parallel processing that can significantly reduce the time needed to process a large volume of data products.

Posted in: Briefs, Information Sciences, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Telemetry, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Telemetry
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Scheme for Quantum Computing Immune to Decoherence

The spintronic encodings of this scheme are more efficient than those of a prior scheme.

A constructive scheme has been devised to enable mapping of any quantum computation into a spintronic circuit in which the computation is encoded in a basis that is, in principle, immune to quantum decoherence. The scheme is implemented by an algorithm that utilizes multiple physical spins to encode each logical bit in such a way that collective errors affecting all the physical spins do not disturb the logical bit. The scheme is expected to be of use to experimenters working on spintronic implementations of quantum logic.

Posted in: Briefs, Information Sciences, Mathematical models, Integrated circuits, Integrated circuits, Test equipment and instrumentation
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Ring Bus Architecture for a Solid-State Recorder

A document concisely describes a ring bus architecture for a proposed solid-state recorder (SSR) that would serve as buffer of data to be transmitted from a spacecraft to Earth. This architecture would afford fault tolerance needed for reliable operation in an anticipated high-radiation environment in which traditional SSRs cannot operate reliably. Features of the architecture include one or more controller boards and multiple memory boards interconnected in a ringlike topology. The interconnections would be high-speed serial links complying with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) standard 1393 (which pertains to a spaceborne fiber-optic data bus).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Information Sciences, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Data exchange, Fiber optics, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Data exchange, Fiber optics
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Image Compression Algorithm Altered To Improve Stereo Ranging

A report discusses a modification of the ICER image-data-compression algorithm to increase the accuracy of ranging computations performed on compressed stereoscopic image pairs captured by cameras aboard the Mars Exploration Rovers. (ICER and variants thereof were discussed in several prior NASA Tech Briefs articles.) Like many image compressors, ICER was designed to minimize a mean-square-error measure of distortion in reconstructed images as a function of the compressed data volume. The present modification of ICER was preceded by formulation of an alternative error measure, an image-quality metric that focuses on stereoscopic-ranging quality and takes account of image-processing steps in the stereoscopic-ranging process. This metric was used in empirical evaluation of bit planes of wavelet-transform subbands that are generated in ICER.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Information Sciences, Mathematical models, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Spacecraft
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Fault-Tolerant Coding for State Machines

State machines can be rendered immune to single-event upsets.

Two reliable fault-tolerant coding schemes have been proposed for state machines that are used in field-programmable gate arrays and application-specific integrated circuits to implement sequential logic functions. The schemes apply to strings of bits in state registers, which are typically implemented in practice as assemblies of flip-flop circuits. If a single-event upset (SEU, a radiation- induced change in the bit in one flip-flop) occurs in a state register, the state machine that contains the register could go into an erroneous state or could “hang,” by which is meant that the machine could remain in undefined states indefinitely. The proposed fault-tolerant coding schemes are intended to prevent the state machine from going into an erroneous or hang state when an SEU occurs.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Information Sciences, Failure modes and effects analysis, Architecture, Integrated circuits, Architecture, Integrated circuits
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Algorithm Optimally Orders Forward-Chaining Inference Rules

Requirements for exhaustive data-flow analysis are relaxed.

People typically develop knowledge bases in a somewhat ad hoc manner by incrementally adding rules with no specific organization. This often results in a very inefficient execution of those rules since they are so often order sensitive. This is relevant to tasks like Deep Space Network in that it allows the knowledge base to be incrementally developed and have it automatically ordered for efficiency.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Information Sciences, Mathematical models, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Data exchange, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Data exchange
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