Robotics, Automation & Control

Access our comprehensive library of technical briefs on robotics, automation & control, from engineering experts at NASA and government, university, and commercial laboratories.

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Safe2Ditch Technology

Highly capable small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) provide substantial business opportunity, especially if allowed to operate in the suburban market. Reliability issues force the use of a safety pilot for each vehicle...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Orangutank Robotic Pipe Traveler

The Orangutank™ is a remote-controlled, tethered robotic platform for traveling from one pipe to another using a network of vertical pipes for support. It combines specialized robotic grippers to provide...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Self-Learning Robot Hands Adapt to Grasp Objects

Anew grasp system with robotic hands works without previously knowing the characteristics of objects, learning by trial and error. The robot features two hands based on human hands in terms of...

The robotic gripper was developed at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center as part of a robotic satellite servicing mission. The gripping device can be used to autonomously or remotely grasp and...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Method and Associated Apparatus for Capturing, Servicing, and De-Orbiting Earth Satellites Using Robotics

Engineers at Goddard Space Flight Center have overcome limitations plaguing the satellite sector since its inception through the development of a robotic system allowing for the autonomous capture and servicing of in-orbit satellites. By...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Controllable Dry Adhesive for Efficient Climbing Robot

A small robot with the ability to hoist large loads could have countless applications, not only as a small, inexpensive, disposable, mobile sensor in the realms of search and rescue,...

Briefs: Motion Control
Hydraulically Amplified Actuators

Soft robots are made from soft materials that react to applied voltage with a wide range of motions. Such soft robots contain tremendous potential for future applications, as they adapt to dynamic...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Flexible “Skin” Senses Shear Force

To date, it has been difficult or impossible for most robotic and prosthetic hands to accurately sense the vibrations and shear forces that occur, for example, when a finger is sliding along a tabletop,...

A software system was developed that helps robots more effectively act on spoken instructions — no matter how abstract or specific those instructions may be — from people who...

Engineers have fabricated transparent, gel-based robots that move when water is pumped in and out of them. They are made entirely of hydrogel — a tough, rubbery, nearly...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
System Enables Robots to Understand Contextual Commands

Today’s robots can accomplish many repetitive tasks, but their inability to understand the nuances of human language makes them mostly useless for more complicated requests. For example, if a specific tool is placed in a toolbox and a robot is asked to “pick it up,” it would be...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Controlling Soft Robots Using Magnetic Fields

A fundamental advance in controlling soft robots involves using magnetic fields to remotely manipulate microparticle chains embedded in soft robotic devices. Several devices have been developed...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Evolving and Controlling Behaviors in a Computation-Free Robot Swarm

Flocks of birds, schools of fish, and colonies of ants exhibit a remarkable robustness and resilience, despite the limited capabilities of each individual. Recently, research into bio-inspired swarm robotics has been gaining popularity due to the low-cost, robust, redundant,...

Actuators are a critical driver of all the mechanisms used in space, and improvements of their operation mechanism enhance mission...

An industrial-class excavator was developed for use on the Moon and perhaps on Mars. The model mobility platform uses Ackerman Steering with active drives on all six...

Robots in production lines work with micrometer precision, unless a component fails. If, for example, the linear actuator used to precisely position a car body in front of an...

Traditional robots often feature isolated mechanical joints. These discrete components limit a rover’s ability to traverse sand, stone, and other challenging environments. A team at the University of...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
High-Temperature Actuators Bend as They “Breathe”

Extreme temperatures are hard for mechanical components to endure without degrading. To address the problem, researchers at MIT worked with several other universities to develop a new way...

A team of researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology has developed a way to use 3D printers to create objects capable of dramatic expansion. The technology could someday be used in...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Flat, Triangular Modules Connect to Form Origami Robot

Origami robots are composed of thin structures that can fold and unfold to change shape. They are compact and lightweight, but have functional restrictions related to size, shape, and...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Straws Help Create Simple Robot Joints

Inspired by arthropod insects and spiders, Harvard professor George Whitesides and Alex Nemiroski, a former postdoctoral fellow in Whitesides’ Harvard lab, used ordinary plastic drinking straws to...

Briefs: Aerospace
Machine Vision System

A number of instruments have been built to obtain range images — a two-dimensional array of numbers that gives the depth of a scene along many directions from a central point in the instrument. Instead of measuring...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Autonomous Combustion-Powered Hopping Robot

Robots are conventionally made mobile by rolling on wheels; however, wheeled robots have limited ability to traverse large obstacles. Obstacles much taller than the robot's wheels can prevent...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Omnidirectional Mobile Robot with Two Moving Parts

SIMbot is an updated version of the ballbot, an elegantly simple robot whose tall, thin body moves on top of a sphere slightly smaller than a bowling ball. SIMbot features a motor with just...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Interactive Robot Control System and Method of Use

Researchers at NASA's 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)....

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:...

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...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Wearable Robotic System for Minimally Invasive Surgery

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...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems

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...

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