Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Access our comprehensive library of technical briefs on mechanical and fluid systems, from engineering experts at NASA and government, university, and commercial laboratories.

Briefs : Motion Control
Self-Contained Wheel Unit
Self-Contained Wheel Unit
Researchers have developed a self-contained wheel unit that combines a wheel and an electric motor.
Self-Contained Wheel Unit
Briefs : Transportation
Precision Low-Speed Motor Controller
Precision Low-Speed Motor Controller
The technology can be used in commercial motors, robotic systems, and hybrid and electric vehicles.
Precision Low-Speed Motor Controller
Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Algorithm Gives Robots a Faster Grasp
Algorithm Gives Robots a Faster Grasp
The algorithm speeds up the planning process that robots use to adjust their grip on objects.
Algorithm Gives Robots a Faster Grasp
Briefs : Materials
Artificial Skin Provides Haptic Feedback
Artificial Skin Provides Haptic Feedback
The skin could help rehabilitation and enhance virtual reality by instantaneously adapting to a wearer's movements.
Artificial Skin Provides Haptic Feedback
Briefs : Communications
WiFi-Based Technique Measures Speed and Distance of Indoor Movement
WiFi-Based Technique Measures Speed and Distance of Indoor Movement
A technology uses a combination of WiFi signals and accelerometer technology to track devices in near-real-time.
WiFi-Based Technique Measures Speed and Distance of Indoor Movement
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Robots Can Pick Up Any Object After Inspecting It
Robots Can Pick Up Any Object After Inspecting It

For decades, robots in controlled environments like assembly lines have been able to pick up the same object over and over again. More recently, breakthroughs in computer vision have enabled...

Robots Can Pick Up Any Object After Inspecting It
Briefs : Aerospace
Flying Robot Mimics Rapid Insect Flight
Flying Robot Mimics Rapid Insect Flight

Flying animals both power and control flight by flapping their wings. This enables small natural flyers such as insects to hover close to a flower but also to rapidly escape danger. Animal flight has...

Flying Robot Mimics Rapid Insect Flight
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Passive Smart Container
Passive Smart Container

Although Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology is being used widely for pallet and box-level tracking in the commercial sector, significant technology gaps remain for tracking dense quantities at the item...

Passive Smart Container
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Tiny Lensless Endoscope Captures 3D Images of Objects Smaller Than a Cell
Tiny Lensless Endoscope Captures 3D Images of Objects Smaller Than a Cell

Researchers have developed a new self-calibrating endoscope that produces 3D images of objects smaller than a single cell without a lens or any optical, electrical, or...

Tiny Lensless Endoscope Captures 3D Images of Objects Smaller Than a Cell
Briefs : Energy
Battery-Free Sensor for Underwater Use
Battery-Free Sensor for Underwater Use

To investigate oceans, researchers aim to build a submerged network of interconnected sensors that sends data to the surface. Supplying constant power to scores of sensors designed to stay for long...

Battery-Free Sensor for Underwater Use
Briefs : Aerospace
Fluid-Filled Frequency-Tunable Mass Damper

Innovators at Marshall Space Flight Center developed the fluid-filled Frequency-Tunable Mass Damper (FTMD) technology that allows for significant distribution of loads while also providing a simple mechanism that allows for the capability to change its frequency of mitigation with negligible impact on...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Thin Nylon Films for Transparent Electronic Devices
Thin Nylon Films for Transparent Electronic Devices

Very thin nylon films were created that can be used in electronic memory components. The films are several hundreds of times thinner than a human hair and could be used in bendable...

Thin Nylon Films for Transparent Electronic Devices
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Lateral Kevlar Suspension Device (LKSD)

The Lateral Kevlar Suspension Device (LKSD) is made up of a support ring that has three spring-loaded tension assemblies equally spaced around the support ring. Connected to these tension assemblies is a band that supports a separate ring capable of holding a cylindrical shaped load.

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Tiny “Walking” Motor Moves in Discrete Mechanical Steps
Tiny “Walking” Motor Moves in Discrete Mechanical Steps

A set of five tiny fundamental parts can be assembled into a wide variety of functional devices including a tiny “walking” motor that can move back and forth across a surface or...

Tiny “Walking” Motor Moves in Discrete Mechanical Steps
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Lightweight Exosuit Combines Robotics and Functional Apparel
Lightweight Exosuit Combines Robotics and Functional Apparel

Between walking and running, human gaits can cover a wide range of speeds; for example, at low speeds, the metabolic rate of walking is lower than that of running in a slow jog....

Lightweight Exosuit Combines Robotics and Functional Apparel
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Lightweight Sensing and Control System for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Monitoring

A new sensing and control system for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) allows for semi-autonomous flight. Pilots need not leave the ground to conduct routine monitoring and surveillance quickly and cost-effectively. Such systems are particularly useful during long flight...

Briefs : Energy
Rose-Inspired Device Collects and Purifies Water
Rose-Inspired Device Collects and Purifies Water

A new device, inspired by a rose, inexpensively collects and purifies water. The device is a new approach to solar steaming for water production — a technique that uses energy from sunlight...

Rose-Inspired Device Collects and Purifies Water
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
New Airplane Wing Assembled from Tiny Identical Pieces
New Airplane Wing Assembled from Tiny Identical Pieces

A radically new kind of airplane wing, assembled from hundreds of tiny identical pieces, can change shape to control the plane’s flight, and could provide a significant boost in...

New Airplane Wing Assembled from Tiny Identical Pieces
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
3D-Printed Liquid Lab-on-a-Chip
3D-Printed Liquid Lab-on-a-Chip

Researchers have 3D-printed an all-liquid device that, with the click of a button, can be repeatedly reconfigured on demand to serve a wide range of applications from making battery materials to screening drug...

3D-Printed Liquid Lab-on-a-Chip
Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Ultrathin Transistors for Faster Computer Chips
Ultrathin Transistors for Faster Computer Chips

For decades, microchip transistors have become smaller, faster, and cheaper; however, miniaturization has reached a natural limit, as completely new problems arise when a length scale of only a...

Ultrathin Transistors for Faster Computer Chips
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Aircraft Vertical Takeoff and Landing
Aircraft Vertical Takeoff and Landing

NASA’s Langley Research Center developed an inexpensive, long-endurance, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). It is capable of flying for 24 hours, landing in a 50 × 50...

Aircraft Vertical Takeoff and Landing
Briefs : Aerospace
Neural Lander Uses AI to Land Drones Smoothly

Landing multi-rotor drones smoothly is difficult. Complex turbulence is created by the airflow from each rotor bouncing off the ground during a descent. This turbulence is not well understood nor is it easy to compensate for, particularly for autonomous drones. That is why takeoff and landing are...

Briefs : Transportation
High-Sensitivity, Low-Noise MEMS Accelerometer
High-Sensitivity, Low-Noise MEMS Accelerometer

A high-sensitivity and low-noise MEMS accelerometer was developed using multi-layer metal structures composed of multiple metal layers. The accelerometer achieves 1 μG level resolution that has...

High-Sensitivity, Low-Noise MEMS Accelerometer
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Miniature Stretchable Pump
Miniature Stretchable Pump

Soft robots have a distinct advantage over rigid robots: they can adapt to complex environments, handle fragile objects, and interact safely with humans. Made from silicone, rubber, or other stretchable polymers,...

Miniature Stretchable Pump
Briefs : Nanotechnology
Automated System Generates Robotic Parts
Automated System Generates Robotic Parts

An automated system designs and 3D-prints complex robotic parts that are optimized according to an enormous number of specifications. The system fabricates actuators — devices that mechanically...

Automated System Generates Robotic Parts
Briefs : Aerospace
Schlieren System Captures Brilliant Shockwave Images
Schlieren System Captures Brilliant Shockwave Images

Supersonic flight over land is generally prohibited because sonic booms created by shockwaves disturb people on the ground and can damage property. Armstrong innovators are working to...

Schlieren System Captures Brilliant Shockwave Images
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
High-Speed 3D Printer for High-Performance Plastics
High-Speed 3D Printer for High-Performance Plastics

3D printers that build small parts layer by layer from melted plastic can take up to an hour to produce a pocket-sized piece. This process is far too slow for the mass-production of...

High-Speed 3D Printer for High-Performance Plastics
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Smartphone App Programs Robots
Smartphone App Programs Robots

A smartphone app was developed that allows a user to easily program any robot to perform a mundane activity such as picking up parts from one area and delivering them to another. The app, called VRa, uses...

Smartphone App Programs Robots
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Measuring Stickiness of Microscale Surfaces
Measuring Stickiness of Microscale Surfaces

At the scale of bridges or buildings, the most important force that engineered structures need to deal with is gravity. But at the scale of microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS) — devices like...

Measuring Stickiness of Microscale Surfaces
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Low-Cost, Human-Friendly Robot Designed with Artificial Intelligence
Low-Cost, Human-Friendly Robot Designed with Artificial Intelligence

Robotics has traditionally focused on industrial applications in which robots require strength and precision to carry out repetitive tasks. These robots flourish in highly...

Low-Cost, Human-Friendly Robot Designed with Artificial Intelligence