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
Strain System for the Motion Base Shuttle Mission Simulator

The Motion Base Shuttle Mission Simulator (MBSMS) Strain System is an innovative engineering tool used to monitor the stresses applied to the MBSMS motion platform tilt pivot frames during motion simulations in real time. The Strain System comprises hardware and software produced by...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Pyrotechnic Actuator for Retracting Tubes Between MSL Subsystems

An apparatus, denoted the “retractuator” (a contraction of “retracting actuator”), was designed to help ensure clean separation between the cruise stage and the entry-vehicle subsystem of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission. The retractuator or an equivalent mechanism...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Progress in Development of the Axel Rovers

Progress has been made in the development of a family of robotic land vehicles having modular and minimalist design features chosen to impart a combination of robustness, reliability, and versatility. These vehicles at earlier stages of development were described in two previous NASA Tech Briefs...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Compact, Lightweight Servo-Controllable Brakes

Compact, lightweight servo-controllable brakes capable of high torques are being developed for incorporation into robot joints. A brake of this type is based partly on the capstan effect of tension elements, which is described by the well known equation

Th/Tl =...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Robotic Arm Manipulator Using Active Control for Sample Acquisition and Transfer, and Passive Mode for Surface Compliance

A robotic arm that consists of three joints with four degrees of freedom (DOF) has been developed. It can carry an end-effector to acquire and transfer samples by using active control and comply with surface topology in a...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Low-Friction, Low-Profile, High-Moment Two-Axis Joint

The two-axis joint is a mechanical device that provides two-degrees-of-freedom motion between connected components. A compact, moment-resistant, twoaxis joint is used to connect an electromechanical actuator to its driven structural members. Due to the requirements of the overall mechanism,...

Motion Control Technology : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Miniature Multi-Axis Mechanism for Hand Controllers

A hand controller provides up to three axes of motion, and all required feel characteristics (stiffness and breakout torques) located inside a hollow handle within the grip of the hand. This is achieved using a miniature gimbal mechanism that allows for independent motion about one, two, or...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Magnetostrictive Brake

A magnetostrictive brake has been designed as a more energy-efficient alternative to a magnetic fail-safe brake in a robot. (In the specific application, “fail-safe” signifies that the brake is normally engaged; that is, power must be supplied to allow free rotation.) The magnetic fail-safe brake must be supplied with...

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
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...

Position Sensor Integral With a Linear Actuator
Briefs : Motion Control
Lightweight, Self-Deployable Wheels

Ultra-lightweight, self-deployable wheels made of polymer foams have been demonstrated. These wheels are an addition to the roster of cold hibernated elastic memory (CHEM) structural applications. Intended originally for use on nanorovers (very small planetary-exploration robotic vehicles), CHEM wheels could...

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 : Motion Control
Temporary Fullerene Films in Microelectromechanical Devices

In a proposed technique for fabrication of microelectromechanical devices, thin films of fullerenes would be used as temporary packaging to protect and position delicate components. The initial application of this technique would likely occur in the fabrication of devices in which...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Inertial/GPS Pointing and Positioning System

A data system generates information on the position and orientation of a pointing instrument (e.g., a telescope or a laser) that could be mounted on a moving platform (e.g., an aircraft) and generate platform-steering commands for pointing the instrument at a known target (e.g., a target on the...

Motion Control Tech Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Conformably Stowable Canard

An improved secondary wing system of the canard type has been invented to improve performance and increase efficiency of airplanes capable of flight at supersonic and high subsonic speeds. Canards, including small forward-mounted secondary wings, are used to increase the total wing surface areas of airplanes in order...

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 Tech Briefs : Motion 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...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
A Precise Closed-Loop Temperature-Control System

A control system that includes a single thermal source has been designed to afford precise control of the temperature of a fluid flowing in a closed-loop system. Similar control systems could make it possible to increase production levels and to reduce risks in industrial situations in which...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Small Hybrid Rocket Engines Fabricated via X-Ray Lithography

Small hybrid rocket engines of a proposed type would burn specially shaped hollow cylinders of solid fuel containing slanted oxygen-injection channels, as shown in the figure. These engines would exploit a vortex flow phenomenon associated with the radial inflow of the oxygen in the...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Miniature Turbomolecular Pump for High Vacuum

A proposed miniature turbomolecular pump would be a prototype of high-vacuum sources for a forthcoming generation of miniature, portable mass spectrometers and other scientific instruments. The miniature turbomolecular pump would be an attractive alternative to currently available high-vacuum...

Webcasts

Upcoming Webinars: Robotics, Automation & Control

Using Portable Scenarios and Coverage Metrics to Ensure...

Upcoming Webinars: Robotics, Automation & Control

Impact of Autonomous and Electric Vehicles in New Product...

Upcoming Webinars: Sensors/Data Acquisition

Autonomous Vehicles Sensors: How to Ensure They Work Well and...

Upcoming Webinars: Automotive

Connectivity Solutions for Robust Data Transmission in Future...

Upcoming Webinars: Transportation

Transforming the Grid: New Technologies for the Transmission and...

Upcoming Webinars: Robotics, Automation & Control

Military Robotics