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
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...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Walking Robot for Internal Inspection of Thin-Wall Ducts

A walking robot connected to external instrumentation via a tether has been proposed to enable visual inspections, retrieval of loose objects, and some repairs inside thin-wall round ducts. The ducts in question are made of sections about 4 ft (1.2 m) long, joined by flexible seals that...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Biomorphic Explorers

"Biomorphic explorers" are a class of proposed small robots that would be equipped with microsensors and would feature animallike adaptability and mobility. These robots would capture key features, a specific design or function found in nature, taking advantage of general animal mechanical designs and neural functions that...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Doped ZnTe: a Developmental Photorefractive Material

Zinc telluride is a semiconductive material that has been found to become photorefractive when it is suitably doped with vanadium or with manganese and vanadium. The combination of photorefractivity and semiconductivity make this material attractive for use in a variety of applications,...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Snakelike Robots Would Maneuver in Tight Spaces

Robots with multiple-link arms that could reach through narrow openings into hidden cavities are undergoing development. Called "multifunction dexterous boro-robots" (MDBRs), these robots would resemble snakes (see Figure 1), in both general appearance and in the slithering motion with which they...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Wavy Blades for Secondary Centrifugal Blood-Pump Impeller

The rectangular-cross-section blades of a centrifugal secondary impeller in a ventricular-assist blood pump would be replaced with blades of wavy cross section, according to a proposal. As explained below, the resulting modification in the flow pattern would reduce the tendency toward...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Jewellike Bearings for Blood Pumps

Jewellike bearings have been devised to enhance the performance and safety of small rotary pumps that are used to increase or sustain flows of blood in cardiac patients. A pump of this type includes a spinning impeller in an axial- or radial-flow configuration. The impeller shaft is supported at its ends by...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Lightweight "Beach-Ball" Robotic Vehicles

Lightweight, inflatable robotic vehicles (rovers) that superficially resemble beach balls and that could be driven by wind and/or electric power are undergoing development. These rovers were conceived for carrying scientific instruments across rocky terrain on Mars, and are intended to move faster,...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Simulations in Support of Towed Flight Demonstration

The Eclipse flight project was established to demonstrate a reusable-launch-vehicle concept developed by Kelly Space and Technology, Inc. An F-106 delta-wing aircraft was chosen as the towed vehicle, and a C-141A transport-type airplane was selected for the towing vehicle. These airplanes are...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Miniature Side-Bore Sample-Acquisition Mechanism

The figure illustrates various aspects of a proposed mechanism that would be mounted in an instrumented penetrator dart for use in acquiring a sample of soil. In operation, the dart would be dropped from a height to make it penetrate the ground to a suitable depth, then the mechanism would be...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Microscopic Heat Exchangers, Valves, Pumps, and Flowmeters

Microscopic forced-flow heat-transfer systems containing heat exchangers, flow channels, electrostatically driven peristaltic pumps, and related components have been proposed. These systems would be made largely of silicon, by use of micromachining processes similar or identical to...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Procedure for Designing Safe Robots

A methodology for designing robots provides for satisfying both safety and performance requirements. Heretofore, most robot-design efforts have been focussed on maximizing performance, with only incidental regard for safety, under the assumption that humans and delicate equipment would be excluded from robot...

Briefs : Motion Control
Navigation and Control of Continuous Mining Systems

Research conducted at the Pittsburgh Research Center (formerly U.S. Bureau of Mines) developed technology that will allow computer-assisted operation of mechanized equipment normally used in underground room-and-pillar coal mining, while permitting workers to be located away from the hazardous...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Improved Hybrid System Protects Airfoils Against Icing

An improved hybrid thermal/mechanical system has been developed to protect airplane wings and other airfoils against the accretion of ice, which degrades aerodynamic performance. The system is designed with particular attention to advanced, high-performance airfoils, which exhibit...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Evaluation of a "Smart" Aircraft Control Actuator

An aircraft control actuator that incorporates self-contained control electronics has been installed in the F-18 Systems Research Aircraft and evaluated in flight tests. This "smart" actuator is a prototype of fly-by-wire servoactuators for future advanced aircraft.

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Electromagnetic Shaker for Flight Flutter Testing

An electromagnetic shaker based on a linear induction motor has been developed for use in flight flutter testing of aircraft. The shaker is a wing-tip-mounted unit capable of delivering root-mean-square forces as large as 140 lb (623 N) at frequencies from 10 to 60 Hz.

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Micromachined Monopropellant Thrusters

A report proposes monopropellant microthrusters for a new generation of miniature spacecraft with mission lifetimes stretching into years. These thrusters would include micromachined nozzle/chamber assemblies containing microvalves, designed according to emerging concepts of microelectromechanical systems...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Making Fuels Onboard for Power Bursts in Exploratory Robots

In-situ resource utilization (ISRU) equipment would be incorporated into remotely controlled exploratory robots, according to a proposal, to generate fuels and oxidizers to extend operational ranges and to provide occasional bursts of power for actions like drilling into the ground,...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Solar-Powered Aerobots With Power-Surge Capabilities

Advanced aerobots that would be powered by solar photovoltaic batteries and that would be capable of storing energy for occasional operation during short intervals at power levels far beyond those of the photovoltaic batteries have been proposed. Aerobots are robotic balloon-buoyed airborne...


Blog: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Create the Future: Water Desalination, Powered by Waves

Blog: Sensors/Data Acquisition

By the Lake, a Flying-Fish Robot Takes Off

Podcasts: Data Acquisition

Here's an Idea: Car Hacking

Blog: Electronics & Computers

A New Heat Shield for Electronics – Just 10 Atoms Thick

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

Space-Qualified Traveling-Wave Tube

Blog: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Answering Your Questions: Why Land on the South Pole of the Moon?