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
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 : Motion Control
Precision Stages Enable Analytical Measurement of Jet-Able Fluids

Precision X-Y stages were developed for integration into a new analytical measurement tool for use in the development of digital inks or other fluids to be jetted from ink jet print heads. The Drop Watcher III system provides repeatable and exact measurements of drop formation...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Computer Simulation Ensures Motorcycle Stability

In the area of maintaining conventional motorcycle stability, engineers have established a series of tests that measure the wobble, weave, and kickback of every new model before it is released for production. While physical testing provides a nearly perfect measurement of a prototype or production...

Briefs : Motion Control
Direct Steering Component for Recumbent Tricycles

When developing the steering component of the Catrike Speed recumbent tricycle, the manufacturer switched from metal bearings to igubal® plastic rod ends for lighter weight (80% less) and better dampening; they absorb more vibration from wheel to arms. This also enabled the...

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...

Briefs : 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 : 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 : Robotics, Automation & 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...

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 : Motion 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.

Briefs : 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...

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:

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