NASA Johnson Space Center developed reprogrammable and interchangeable electronic controllers that can attach to a system or subsystem wirelessly or through plug-and-play capability. Originally designed to work with rocket engines, this technology can control different systems and subsystems. This smart controller recognizes which system it is communicating with once connected to the network and loads the appropriate application to perform the required function in the system. The device enables a common set of spares and can talk to other devices of its kind by relaying information and instructions to other controllers. A prototype can be easily developed using low-cost solutions such as Raspberry Pi to demonstrate functionality.
The controllers are comprised of electronic circuits that receive sensor data and use positional and functional identification to recognize which network system they have attached to and then control the action or position of equipment (such as actuators) within the network system based on the appropriate, predetermined program or algorithm.
The reconfigurable controllers can be “swapped” from one network system (or subsystem) to another and learn from one another to perform new tasks. Even when not connected to a network, this device retains its most recently downloaded software and can relay the information to other controllers to perform the same function. Wireless, plug-and-play, Bluetooth, and RFID capability are all connectivity options.