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: Manufacturing & Prototyping

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...

Briefs: Transportation

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...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control

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,...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control

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...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

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

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control

The Advanced Explosive Ordnance Disposal Robotic System (AEODRS) features a modular open systems architecture that enables the robot to be self-righting after a fall. The self-righting...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control

In the future, soft, animal-inspired robots may be safely deployed in difficult-to-access environments in which rigid robots cannot currently be used such as inside the human body or in spaces that are too...

Briefs: Materials

Microrobots that can deliver drugs to specific spots inside the body while being monitored and controlled from outside the body have been developed that also can treat tumors in the...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control

Researchers have created 3D-printed flexible mesh structures that can be controlled with applied magnetic fields while floating on water. The structures can grab small objects and carry water droplets, giving them...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

The production of precision products depends on robot control systems knowing the location of the adhesive bonding head or welding head to the nearest millimeter at all times. This means the robot...

Briefs: Materials

While different approaches have been used to create artificial muscles — including hydraulic systems, servomotors, shape-memory metals, and polymers that respond to stimuli — they all have limitations such...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition

A new MIT-developed technique enables robots to quickly identify objects hidden in a three-dimensional cloud of data, reminiscent of how some people can make sense of a densely patterned “Magic Eye” image if...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control

There is great potential in using both drones and ground-based robots for situations like disaster response, but generally these platforms either fly or creep along the ground. The flying...

Briefs: Transportation

Autonomous vehicles relying on light-based image sensors often struggle to see through blinding conditions such as fog. Sub-terahertz wavelengths, which are between microwave...

Briefs: Test & Measurement

NASA's Langley Research Center offers a novel lifting and precision positioning device with hybrid functional characteristics of both crane-type lifting devices and robotic manipulators. The design of the...

Briefs: Test & Measurement
Deployable Emergency Shutoff Device Blocks High-Velocity Fluid Flows

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center has developed a device and method for blocking the flow of fluid from an open pipe. The device plugs, controls, and meters the flow of gases and liquids. Anchored with friction fittings, spikes, or explosively activated fasteners, the device...

Briefs: AR/AI

Researchers have created wearable technology to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. It presents a step toward the practical realization of self-powered, human-integrated technologies.

Briefs: Imaging

A robot is being developed that tracks facial movements to perform human tasks. The robot resembles large, squiggly arms holding tiny cameras. Sitting in a rolling office chair across from one of the arms, the robot's...

Briefs: Software

Advanced driver-assistance systems and autonomous drive technologies increase the complexity of automotive integrated circuits (ICs), making it harder to ensure that...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control

Researchers have developed a new and improved snake-inspired soft robot that is faster and more precise than its predecessor.

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control

An ultra-low-power hybrid chip inspired by the brain could help give palm-sized robots the ability to collaborate and learn from their experiences. Combined with new generations of...

Briefs: Imaging

A new learning system improves a robot’s ability to mold materials into target shapes and make predictions about interacting with solid objects and liquids. The system, known as a...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

Researchers have created stretchable, rubbery semiconductors including rubbery integrated electronics, logic circuits, and arrayed sensory skins fully based on rubber materials. The semiconductors have...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Transparent, Self-Healing Electronic Skin

Scientists have taken inspiration from underwater invertebrates like jellyfish to create an electronic skin with similar functionality. Like a jellyfish, the electronic skin is transparent, stretchable, touch-sensitive, and self-healing in aquatic environments.

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Industrial machinery, agricultural equipment, transportation vessels, and home applications depend on lubricants; however, they leave a heavy environmental footprint. Common lubricants, oils,...

Briefs: Motion Control

Fast-response, stiffness-tunable (FRST) soft actuators — or movable machine elements — were developed that could be used in soft robots.

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Researchers, drawing inspiration from bacteria, have designed smart, bio-compatible microrobots that are highly flexible. Because these devices are able to swim through fluids and modify their shape...

Briefs: Aerospace
Precision Low-Speed Motor Controller

Innovators at NASA Johnson Space Center have developed a method for controlling precise motion of a brushless DC (BLDC) motor using relatively inexpensive components. Precision motors are usually quite expensive and inefficient when operating at slow speeds. Current motors are only capable of operating at...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Hundreds of small robots can work in a team to create biology-inspired shapes without an underlying master plan, purely based on local communication and movement. To achieve this, the biological...

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