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 : 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 : Robotics, Automation & Control
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...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Positive-Buoyancy Rover for Under Ice Mobility

A buoyant rover has been developed to traverse the underside of ice-covered lakes and seas. The rover operates at the ice/water interface and permits direct observation and measurement of processes affecting freeze- over and thaw events in lake and marine environments. Operating along the 2- D...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
International Space Station- Based Electromagnetic Launcher for Space Science Payloads

A method was developed of lowering the cost of planetary exploration missions by using an electromagnetic propulsion/launcher, rather than a chemical-fueled rocket for propulsion. An electromagnetic launcher (EML) based at the International Space Station (ISS)...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
A Kinematic Calibration Process for Flight Robotic Arms

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) robotic arm is ten times more massive than any Mars robotic arm before it, yet with similar accuracy and repeatability positioning requirements. In order to assess and validate these requirements, a higher-fidelity model and calibration processes were...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Magnetostrictive Alternator

This innovation replaces the linear alternator presently used in Stirling engines with a continuous-gradient, impedance-matched, oscillating magnetostrictive transducer that eliminates all moving parts via compression, maintains high efficiency, costs less to manufacture, reduces mass, and eliminates the need for a...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
High-Precision Encoders for GEO Space Applications

High-precision encoders are used by earth observation instruments and in mechanisms for laser communication terminals (LCTs). A micro-radian resolution encoder for the LCT was designed for precision pointing applications, especially in geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) environments with a 15-year...

Briefs : Materials
Plastic Optic Fiber—An Evolving Technology

Plastic Optic Fiber (POF) is an established, continually evolving technology available since the early 1980s. From the outset, it was a technology not highly visible for years. At times, it was utilized as a media product within another product, attached to a variety of opto-couplers or light sources....

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Integrating Force Sensors into Robotic Surgery

Due to advances in electronics and technology, robotic surgery has become increasingly popular. Surgeons no longer have to operate directly on a patient, but instead can control a robot to carry...

Briefs : Medical
Automating a Bottling Plant for Reaction Vessels

Tasked with the design and build of a fully automated in vitro diagnostics (IVD) bottling plant, an engineering firm specializing in the development of analytical medical equipment found...

Briefs : Imaging
Hands-Free Transcranial Color Doppler Probe

Current transcranial color Doppler (TCD) transducer probes are bulky and difficult to move in tiny increments to search and optimize TCD signals. This invention provides miniature motions of a TCD transducer probe to optimize TCD signals.

Briefs : Motion Control
Rotary Sensing Technologies for Medical and Robotic Shaft Angle Sensing Applications

Today’s sensor technologies for robotic and medical applications include many devices that have evolved from industrial applications. Because of this general migration, they are not ideally suited to the requirements in new robotic and medical products....

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Compact Green Disk Laser for Therapy Systems

The JenLas® 5/8 W, recently introduced to the U.S. market, offers an output power of up to 8 Watts. Lasers of the JenLas D2 product line work in continuous wave mode, emitting green laser light at 532 nm. The infrared laser light is converted into green laser light by an intracavity frequency...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Method of Reducing Stray Energy Burns in Laparoscopic Surgery

Any surgery brings with it risk, both to the patient and the surgeon. However, laparoscopic surgery sometimes brings an additional invisible risk: stray energy burns. Electrosurgical devices and laparoscopic instruments can suffer insulation failures and capacitive coupling,...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Solar-Powered Cooler and Heater for an Automobile Interior

A proposed apparatus would provide or augment cooling or heating of the interior of an automobile in the presence of sunlight. The apparatus could be added to an existing automobile, with little or no modification. Utilizing solar power, it would operate independently of the automobile...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Sensory-Feedback Exoskeletal Arm Controller

An electromechanical exoskeletal arm apparatus has been designed for use in controlling a remote robotic manipulator arm. The apparatus, called a “force-feedback exoskeleton arm master” (F-EAM) is comfortable to wear and easy to don and doff. It provides control signals from the wearer’s arm to a...

Motion Control Technology : Robotics, Automation & Control
Position Sensor Integral With a Linear Actuator

A noncontact position sensor has been designed for use with a specific two-dimensional linear electromagnetic actuator. To minimize the bulk and weight added by the sensor, the sensor has been...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Measuring Turbomachine-Blade Deflections in Two Dimensions

A report describes a method of simultaneously measuring steady-state axial and tangential turbomachine-blade deflections by use of fiber-optic probes and probe actuators designed specifically for this purpose. Each fiber-optic probe illuminates a small spot and, by measuring a change in...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Ultrasonic Detector and Identifier of Land Mines

A robotic apparatus equipped with ultrasonic probes and other instrumentation has been proposed to reduce the danger and cost and increase the speed of searching for land mines. The apparatus would implement modified versions of the proven techniques used by human searchers (delicately probing...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Adaptive Variable Bias Control for Magnetic Bearings

Adaptive variable bias control (AVBC) is an improved technique for controlling the currents supplied to the electromagnets in magnetic bearings. In AVBC, the bias currents are varied in such a way as to reduce overall power consumption.

Motion Control Technology : Robotics, Automation & Control
Alternative One-Time-Opening Miniature Isolation Valve

The figure depicts a proposed miniature, electrically actuated, one-time-opening isolation valve that would be made mostly of silicon, by use of micromachining techniques. Isolation valves are needed in systems in which fluids must be stored for long times until use, with no leakage or...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Insectile and Vermiform Exploratory Robots

A six-legged robot resembling an insect and a legless segmented robot resembling a worm (see figure) have been proposed as prototypes of biomorphic explorers  small, mobile, exploratory robots that would be equipped with microsensors and would feature animallike adaptability and mobility. Biomorphic...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Better Densification of Cryogenic Liquid Rocket Propellants

An improved system for densifying (by cooling) the liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen used as propellants for the space shuttle has been proposed. These propellant liquids are cooled to minimize the sizes of tanks needed to store them and to reduce maximum operating pressures. The...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Force-Reflecting, Finger-Position-Sensing Mechanism

An electromechanical device called the "Dexterous Master" (DM) is an exoskeletal mechanism that is worn on a human operator's hand for (1) measuring the positions and orientations of the fingers relative to the palm and (2) applying, to the fingers, feedback forces from a remote robotic...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Device Assists Actuation of a Joint in a Pressure Suit

An electromechanical device implements a unique method of actuating a fabric joint in an inflatable structure  in particular, the joint in an astronaut's pressure suit. The method is based on the principle that power from an external source can be applied to a non-constant-volume joint in...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Modifications of the Ventricular Assist Device

A report discusses some modifications of the ventricular assist device (VAD), which was described in "Small Implantable Pump Would Assist Circulation of Blood" (MSC-22424), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 20, No. 7 (July 1996), page 86. The VAD is a surgically implantable, miniature rotary pump designed to...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Model X-33 Subscale Flight Research Program

A program of flight testing of an instrumented subscale model of the X-33 aerospace vehicle is underway. The objectives of this program are the following:

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Gimbaled Injectors for Testing Spacecraft Thrusters

A report proposes an assembly of gimbaled valve/nozzle subassemblies for use in injecting either a propellant fluid (e.g., monomethyl hydrazine) or a propellant-simulating fluid (e.g., water) into the combustion chamber of a spacecraft thruster during hot-fire or cold testing, respectively. The...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Air-Purification System Utilizing Humidity Swings

A regenerable, low-power air-purification system has been proposed for (1) removing toxic gases from solid-waste-incinerator exhaust and/or (2) removing trace contaminants from breathable air. The system would include a primary gas adsorber that would be regenerated in a closed-loop...

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