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
Micropulse Detonation Rocket Engine for Nano-Satellite Propulsion

An efficient propulsion system would use a micropulse detonation rocket engine (–PDRE) for nano-satellite maneuverability in space. Technical objectives are to design, build, and conduct a small detonation tube experiment in order to explore the feasibility of using –PDRE for...

Briefs: Aerospace
Experimental Testbed for 1-MW Turboelectric Distributed Propulsion Aircraft

Researchers at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center are developing a concept aircraft for testing turbo-electric distributed propulsion (TeDP) experiments. TeDP generally involves providing thrust to an aircraft via wing-mounted ducted electric fans, which consist...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Propellant Loading Visualization Software

Complex pressure systems are utilized during testing in the propulsion branch as well as during the propellant loading stage of a mission. Keeping track of the state of such a system becomes more...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Robust Gimbal System for Small-Payload Manipulation

Spaceborne gimbal systems are typically bulky with large footprints. Such a gimbal system may consist of a forked elevation stage rotating on top of the azimuth motor, and occupy a large...

A novel mechanical control system has been proposed for spherical robots to be used as multifunctioning sensor buoys in areas with ambient forces such as winds or...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Compact Active Vibration Control System

This innovation consists of an analog controller, diamond-shaped patch actuator, and point sensors (such as accelerometers). The actuator is designed to couple to the flexural response of the structure in the same manner as a group of point sensors. This results in a co-located transducer pair. The signals...

Briefs: Motion Control
Deep Throttling Turbopump

Advancement in space exploration necessitates deep throttling of liquid cryogenic rocket engines. Both lunar and Martian robotic and human exploration require engines that can be deep throttled,can start and restart, have a long life, and require minimal maintenance. An engine that is capable of deep throttling at low...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Analyzing Rollover Stability of Capsules With Airbags Using LS-Dyna

As NASA moves towards developing technologies needed to implement its new Exploration program, studies conducted for Apollo in the 1960s to understand the rollover stability of capsules landing are being revisited. Although rigid body kinematics analyses of the rollover behavior...

Briefs: Motion Control
Test Fixture for Isolation of Vibration Shaker from G-Loading

The first step in implementing the capability to test sensitive launch vehicle instruments in a combined environment has been completed. The test environment consists of specific vibration spectra induced under sustained Gs, using NASTAR’s ATFS-400 centrifuge. Fixtures allow...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Rotary Series Elastic Actuator

In order to perform human-like movement, an actuator is placed at each degree of freedom (DOF) in a humanoid robot. Additionally, these actuators must be packaged in an arrangement that approximates human structure and appearance. In this innovation, a rotary actuator assembly incorporates a brushless DC motor, a...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Probe Positioning System for Antenna Range

In situ measurements of antenna patterns on rovers in a simulated terrain are difficult to make with conventional antenna range techniques. The desired pattern data covers a hemisphere above the antenna of interest, which is close to the ground. This is incompatible with traditional measurements that...

Briefs: Motion Control
Fluidic Actuators with No Moving Parts

Two new fluidic actuator designs were developed to control fluid flow in ways that will ultimately result in improved system performance and fuel efficiency in to improve the aerodynamic performance of a variety of vehicles. These flow control actuators, often referred to as fluidic oscillators or sweeping...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Re-entry Vehicle Shape for Enhanced Performance

A vehicle entering the atmosphere of a planet will do so at hypersonic speeds and will need to decelerate and maneuver through that atmosphere while protecting its payload from excessive heating. As a consequence, the vehicle shape must be designed to provide optimal aerodynamic lift and drag...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
CubeSat Deployable Log Periodic Dipole Array

The antenna is composed of two main deployable structural components that help it achieve the large packing factor necessary to fit within the small volume of the CubeSat. The primary component of...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Protective Sleeve for a Pyrotechnic Reefing Line

A metallic sleeve provides protection and guidance for the actuating lanyard pull of a parachute system reefing line cutter. This device ensures that the reefing line cutter is not damaged...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Metabolic Heat Regenerated Temperature Swing Adsorption

Two fundamental problems facing the development of a portable system to sustain life on extraterrestrial surfaces are (1) heat rejection and (2) rejection of metabolically produced CO2 to an environment with a ppCO2 of 0.4 to 0.9 kPa as is present on Mars. Portable...

Autonomous robotic manipulators have the potential to increase manufacturing efficiency, provide in-home care, and reduce the risk to humans in hazardous situations. The current challenge in autonomous...

Briefs: Motion Control
Sliding Gait for ATHLETE Mobility

ATHLETE (All-Terrain Hex-Limbed Extra-Terrestrial Explorer) is a multipurpose mobility platform for planetary surfaces. It is a cross between a wheeled rover and a walking robot, and travels using powered wheels mounted on the end of each of six robotic limbs. Each limb is a fully articulated robotic manipulator...

NASA’s Constellation Architecture Team defined an outpost scenario optimized for intensive mobility that uses small, highly mobile pressurized rovers supported by portable habitat...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Brushless Motors for In-Tank Fuel Pumps

Most automotive fuel systems use a Fuel Delivery Module (FDM) with components to filter and pump gasoline at a specified pressure and flow rate from the fuel tank to the engine. The FDM uses a...

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...

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...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
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: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
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...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
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: Robotics, Automation & Control
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: Robotics, Automation & Control
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...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Compact, Low-Force, Low-Noise Linear Actuator

Actuators are critical to all the robotic and manipulation mechanisms that are used in current and future NASA missions, and are also needed for many other industrial, aeronautical, and space...

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