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
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...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Pistol-Grip Torque-Measuring Power Tool

The figure shows one aspect of the exterior appearance of a pistol-grip torque-measuring power tool. The tool is a self-contained, computer controlled, 3/8-in. (~9.5-mm) drive pistol-grip style tool. The tool is intended for use in assembly operations in which application of precise torques to fasteners is...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Mars Ascent Propulsion System

A report presents an overview of continuing efforts to develop an advanced propulsion system for a spacecraft that would ascend from Mars to bring samples to Earth. The system is required to be smaller and to weigh and cost less, in comparison with a conventionally designed system of equal capability. The...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Development of Gear Technology and Theory of Gearing

A NASA Reference Publication discusses gear technology from mathematical and historical perspectives. Following a preface containing historical and philosophical observations, the first of three chapters presents mathematical details of the theory of gearing, including recent developments...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Apparatus for Testing Vacuum Torsional Dampers

A laboratory apparatus called a "vacuum damper investigation and performance evaluation robot" ("V-DIAPER") affords capabilities for vacuum dynamic testing of torsional dampers. The apparatus was developed for original use in testing torsional dampers (rotary viscous dampers) that are destined to...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
NASA Developing Crew-Return Vehicle

Up a creek without a paddle? Not if you're an International Space Station astronaut with a CRV. That's short for Crew Return Vehicle, and it's being developed following an innovative approach in the X-38 program. The CRV will perform three specific roles:

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
The X-36 Program: A Test Pilot's Perspective on UAV Development Testing

The Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC) has been a partner in many uninhabited-aerial-vehicle (UAV) test programs. Our participation has largely been in the areas of technical oversight and range safety, but the X-36 program provided an opportunity to get some "stick and...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Robot Arm Actuated by Electroactive Polymers

The figure shows a robot arm that is essentially a miniature crane actuated by electroactive polymers. This mechanism has been constructed as part of a continuing effort to develop lightweight, compact, low-power-consumption telerobots.

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Active Homopolar Magnetic Bearing

A report presents information on an earlier work on active magnetic bearings with high-critical-temperature superconducting coils. To recapitulate, the device is a homopolar radial-type active magnetic bearing with a bias coil and control coils made of a high-critical-temperature superconductor. The report...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Experiment on Quasi-Tailless Flight of an X-31A Airplane

An experiment consisting of flight tests on the X-31A airplane (see figure) has demonstrated the ability to use thrust vectoring to replace the functions of stabilization and turn coordination usually required of a rudder and vertical tail. Comments by the pilot indicated no difference in...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Human-Powered Centrifuges and Stationary Exercise Stations

Human-powered machines that can be operated as centrifuges or as stationary exercise stations have been invented. These machines are suitable for a variety of terrestrial and outer-space applications that involve physical therapy, maintenance of physical fitness, centrifugal simulation...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Miniature Lambda Sensors for Engine-Control Systems

Small, lightweight sensors that exploit the unique characteristics of nanoceramics are being developed for use in measuring air/fuel ratios in the exhaust gas flows of advanced aircraft engines. Adaptive control systems would process the readings from these sensors, along with other sensory and...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Thermal Batteries Made With Nanostructured Material

Early experiments in a continuing research program have demonstrated that thermal batteries made from powdered solid electrode and electrolyte materials can be improved by use of smaller (nanometer vs. micrometer size) cathode powder grains. The improvements include the possibility of...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Solar Heating of Batteries in Cold Environments

According to a proposal for small electric-power systems that must operate in cold environments, heat released in the operation of solar photovoltaic arrays with solar concentrators would be utilized to maintain batteries at operating temperatures. The proposal is straightforward and does not...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Liquid-Circulation System Keeps Aircrew Members Cool

Each member of the aircrew of an advanced fighter airplane wears a complex, multilayered ensemble that imposes a significant thermal burden by inhibiting normal transport of heat from the body. The thermal burden may be aggravated by the use of nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC)...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Engines for Remotely Piloted Atmospheric-Science Airplanes

A spark-ignited reciprocating gasoline engine, intake-pressurized with three cascaded stages of turbocharging, was selected by NASA's Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology (ERAST) Program, managed at the Dryden Flight Research Center, to propel the next generation of...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Ceramic Hybrid Electromechanical Systems

Ceramic hybrid electromechanical systems (CHEMS) have been proposed to overcome some of the disadvantages while retaining most of the advantages of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). Whereas MEMS are fabricated mostly by micromachining of silicon and have typical feature sizes of the order of microns...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Performance of an Arc-Jet Thruster

A report discusses the design and testing of a laboratory-model arc-jet thruster designed to operate at a nominal power level of 300 W. This thruster is an intermediate product of continuing efforts to develop smaller, lower-power, higher-specific-impulse thrusters for use in a forthcoming generation of small...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Miniature Joule-Thomson Rankine-Cycle Refrigerators

Miniature, lightweight, low-power, low-vibration Joule-Thomson Rankine-Cycle refrigerators have been proposed for cooling portable scientific instruments. These refrigerators would be made largely from silicon wafers by micromachining techniques like those used to fabricate integrated circuits....

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Collision-Avoidance Experiments on 7-DOF Robot Arms

A report describes experiments on the concept described in "Real-Time Collision Avoidance for a Robot Arm" (NPO-19861), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 20, No. 12 (December 1996), page 98. Under this concept, collision-avoidance software processes data computed by model-based obstacle-detection...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Update on System for Robot-Assisted Microsurgery

Two reports present updated information on a robotic system that extends the dexterity of a microsurgeon. The system was described in two articles in NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 21, No. 10 (October 1997); namely, "Telerobot Control for Microsurgery" (NPO-19823), on page 46 and "Force-Feedback Device...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Swivel-Head Sampling Drill Bit

A swivel-head drill bit has been invented for use in acquiring a sample of a possibly hard material at a predetermined depth. This mechanism is a simpler and thus potentially cheaper alternative to deep-coring and sampling mechanisms that contain secondary actuators to open doors and/or to drive internal sampling...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Sorption Compressor for Collecting Atmospheric CO₂ on Mars

A report describes a small, lightweight sorption compressor that is now undergoing development for use in collecting CO2 from the atmosphere on Mars. This compressor would be part of a system that would use the CO2 to generate oxygen and a carbon-based fuel for a...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Vacuum Three-Ball Tribometer for Testing Liquid Lubricants

A three-ball tribometer has been developed for use in evaluating the performances of oils and greases as lubricants in a vacuum at room temperature. This apparatus differs from the one described in "Vacuum Four-Ball Tribometer for Testing Liquid Lubricants" (LEW-16194), NASA Tech Briefs,...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Mars Lander

A brief report presents drawings for the conceptual design of a spacecraft that would land on Mars or another remote planet. The spacecraft would have a tetrahedral shape, would include airbags to cushion impact, and would have a self-righting capability. The drawings show the general appearance of the spacecraft and show the...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Methodology for Optimizing Designs of Rotating Turbine Disks

A methodology for optimizing the fundamental structural designs of rotating turbine disks has been developed to aid in preliminary evaluations of various gas-turbine-engine designs. The basis for this methodology is a combination of turbine-disk and low-cycle-fatigue methodologies that...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Rib Valve as Shutter for Air Swirler in Combustor Nozzle

A rib valve is under consideration for use as a shutter in an air swirler in the fuel nozzle of a variable-geometry combustor. In the original application, the variable-geometry combustor would be part of an engine in the High-Speed Civil Transport. In this application, the rib...

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