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 : Robotics, Automation & Control
Design and Engineering of Process Plants Based on the “Lego Principle”

Manufacturers in the process industries need to adjust to smaller batches and different types of product in the same plant. Plants based on the “Lego principle” are designed and engineered precisely to the respective task, whether for the production of a specific...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Electrochemically Enhanced Mechanical Polishing of Optics

Optical component fabrication using metals or ceramic materials involves many grinding and/or machining and polishing steps to achieve the proper form to the tolerances of imaging or photonic focusing instruments. These instruments range from infrared sensors, through visible and...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Expendable Cooling System for Venus Lander Concept

This innovation is a concept for a novel thermal architecture that would enable a day-long surface mission on Venus. A Venus lander mission could last much longer than a few hours on the surface of the planet by absorbing heat from the Venus environment, and from the electronics within the...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Rapid Quench Furnace for Processing Powder in an Inert Environment

Ongoing work in the development and characterization of sensory materials requires the development of shape memory alloy (SMA) powder or particles. These are embedded in structural material so that the progression of localized damage that occurs during fatigue crack growth will...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Field Excavator with Embedded Force Measurement

The Centaur 2 (C2) platform is a compact vehicle with four independently steered and actuated wheel pods, allowing the vehicle to pivot in place and tilt in two directions. It is designed to interface with and carry the anthropomorphic robot torso of Robonaut 2. There are two nearly identical...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Very Low Thermal Power Waste Heat Recovery System for Deep Space Missions

Deep space missions, like the ones going to outer planets and those that rely on solar photovoltaic power, need extremely large solar arrays to produce that power for their operations because the solar intensity is so low at those locations. Hence, there was a need for a...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Loop Heat Pipe with Thermal Control Valve for Variable Thermal Link

Existing technologies [Loop Heat Pipe (LHP) and passive Thermal Control Valve (TCV)] are integrated and made to work together to provide a passive variable thermal link. The result is a novel LHP with passive TCV that was developed to provide variable heat rejection (turn-down)...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Lunar Materials Handling System

A method was developed for transfer of lunar soil into and out of process equipment. The Lunar Materials Handling System (LMHS) conveys solids to a process vessel, provides a gas-tight seal, prevents seal contamination, and minimizes wear from abrasive particles. The LMHS increases equipment life and minimizes...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Two-Dimensional Dropped Sensor Suite

There are locations that are either too hazardous to land and gather data, or not practical to land. Also, data may need to be gathered from multiple (tens to hundreds) locations (sometimes at once). This is not feasible with a single lander or rover. A single lander does not provide any redundancy in case...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Controlling Execution Sequence Using Tactile-Classification During Manipulation by a Humanoid Robot

It is necessary to track system state during robotic manipulation. System state is defined to be manipulator and environment configuration. Without tracking, the robot is ignorant of the outcomes of its actions. State tracking enables the robot to...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Autonomous Guidance Algorithm to Auto-Pilot Spacecraft in the Vicinity of Primitive Celestial Bodies

The dynamics in the vicinity of small bodies are highly nonlinear. Trajectory design in small-body environments requires accurate gravity and solar radiation pressure models to guarantee the satisfaction of spacecraft operational constraints such...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Safe Maritime Autonomous Path Planning in a High Sea State

The goal of this work was to develop algorithms and software to generate a path that takes into account the direction of waves and wind as much as possible in order to mitigate potential damage to an autonomous underwater vehicle. A risk-based path planning algorithm to analyze...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Human Grasp Assist

Repetitive manual operations can degrade the work efficiency of a human operator over time, with the cumulative stresses of repetitive motion potentially affecting the resultant product quality and/or process efficiency. Accordingly, a lightweight, motorized device has been created that a user/operator may wear on a hand and...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Sampling Mechanism for a Comet Sample Return Mission

Sample return missions have the ability to vastly increase scientific understanding of the origin, history, current status, and resource potential of solar system objects including...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Hands-Free Control Interfaces for an Extravehicular Jetpack

To enable the human mobility necessary to effectively explore near-Earth asteroids and deep space effectively, a new extravehicular activity (EVA) jetpack is under development. The new design leverages knowledge and experience gained from the current astronaut rescue device, the...

Briefs : Software
Artificial Immune System-Based Approach for Air Combat Maneuvering

A high level of autonomy is desired for future unmanned combat systems because lethality and survivability can be improved with much less communication bandwidth than would be necessary for preprogrammed or remotely operated systems. However, there are a number of technical...

Briefs : Software
Rule-Based Analytic Asset Management for Space Exploration Systems (RAMSES)

Human space systems, such as the International Space Station (ISS) and future planned missions to the lunar surface and beyond, require the crew’s ability to locate and manage the physical resources that are required for use to achieve mission objectives. However, the...

Briefs : Motion Control
Using Harmonics to Control Flutter in Wings with Electrical Motors

As aeronautics engineers develop innovative distributed electric propulsion systems, they face new challenges in ensuring that these innovative aircraft are safe as well as fuel efficient. In particular, these systems involve a large number of electrically driven fan motors...

Briefs : Motion Control
Micropulse Detonation Rocket Engine for Nano-Satellite Propulsion

An efficient propulsion system would use a micropulse detonation rocket engine (–PDRE) for nano-satellite maneuverability in space. Technical objectives are to design, build, and conduct a small detonation tube experiment in order to explore the feasibility of using –PDRE for...

Briefs : Motion Control
Experimental Testbed for 1-MW Turboelectric Distributed Propulsion Aircraft

Researchers at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center are developing a concept aircraft for testing turbo-electric distributed propulsion (TeDP) experiments. TeDP generally involves providing thrust to an aircraft via wing-mounted ducted electric fans, which consist...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Propellant Loading Visualization Software

Complex pressure systems are utilized during testing in the propulsion branch as well as during the propellant loading stage of a mission. Keeping track of the state of such a system becomes more difficult as the complexity of such a system increases, and when extensive procedures are being followed. A...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Re-entry Vehicle Shape for Enhanced Performance

A vehicle entering the atmosphere of a planet will do so at hypersonic speeds and will need to decelerate and maneuver through that atmosphere while protecting its payload from excessive heating. As a consequence, the vehicle shape must be designed to provide optimal aerodynamic lift and drag...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
CubeSat Deployable Log Periodic Dipole Array

The antenna is composed of two main deployable structural components that help it achieve the large packing factor necessary to fit within the small volume of the CubeSat. The primary component of the antenna array is a tension stiffened truss, which is preloaded using a large tape spring. The truss...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Protective Sleeve for a Pyrotechnic Reefing Line

A metallic sleeve provides protection and guidance for the actuating lanyard pull of a parachute system reefing line cutter. This device ensures that the reefing line cutter is not damaged during packing or deployment. In addition, the device ensures that the actuating lanyard that initiates the...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Metabolic Heat Regenerated Temperature Swing Adsorption

Two fundamental problems facing the development of a portable system to sustain life on extraterrestrial surfaces are (1) heat rejection and (2) rejection of metabolically produced CO2 to an environment with a ppCO2 of 0.4 to 0.9 kPa as is present on Mars. Portable...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Habitat Demonstration Unit (HDU) Vertical Cylinder Habitat

NASA’s Constellation Architecture Team defined an outpost scenario optimized for intensive mobility that uses small, highly mobile pressurized rovers supported by portable habitat modules that can be carried between locations of interest on the lunar surface. A compact vertical...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Brushless Motors for In-Tank Fuel Pumps

Most automotive fuel systems use a Fuel Delivery Module (FDM) with components to filter and pump gasoline at a specified pressure and flow rate from the fuel tank to the engine. The FDM uses a reservoir assembly to maintain a fuel supply at the pump inlet and support components such as pressure regulators...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Origami-Inspired Folding of Thick, Rigid Panels

To achieve power of 250 kW or greater, a large compression ratio of stowed-to-deployed area is needed. Origami folding patterns were used to inspire the folding of a solar array to achieve synchronous deployment; however, origami models are generally created for near-zero-thickness material. Panel...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Temperature Considerations When Specifying LVDT Linear Position Sensors

The LVDT linear position sensor can operate successfully over a wide range of temperatures, depending upon its design and the application in which it is operating. While the output of the LVDT linear position sensor is not immune to temperature variation, proper design and...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Electric Machine With Boosted Inductance to Stabilize Current Control

High-powered motors typically have very low resistance and inductance (R and L) in their windings. This makes the pulse-width modulated (PWM) control of the current very difficult, especially when the bus voltage (V) is high. These R and L values are dictated by the motor...

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