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
Interactive Robot Control System and Method of Use

Researchers at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC), in collaboration with General Motors and Oceaneering, have designed a state-of-the-art, highly dexterous, humanoid robot: Robonaut 2 (R2). R2 is made up of multiple systems and sub-components: vision systems, image-recognition systems, sensors,...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Integrated High-Speed Torque Control System for a Robotic Joint

Researchers at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC), in collaboration with General Motors and Oceaneering, have designed a state-of-the-art, highly dexterous, humanoid robot: Robonaut 2 (R2). R2's nearly 50 patented and patent-pending technologies have the potential to be...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Developing a Satellite-Based Autonomous Vehicle Control System

The rapid rise of global interest in the field of autonomous driving is ushering in a new era of automobiles. With many vehicles already offering autonomous preventative safety systems, the addition of improved road infrastructure could increase the reliability and maturity of...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Wearable Robotic System for Minimally Invasive Surgery

Researchers developed a wearable robotic system for minimally invasive surgery (also known as keyhole surgery) that will offer surgeons natural and dexterous movement, as well as the ability to sense, see, control, and safely navigate through the surgical environment. The need for better...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems

Multi-robot systems deployed in real-world applications are exposed to the same issues that computer systems face. A cybersecurity attack on a robot has the consequences of an attack on a computer system, with the added risk that the robot could be controlled to take potentially damaging...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Linear Rope Brake System for Aerial Delivery

There are instances when items (e.g., supplies) need to be lowered from an aerial vehicle to the ground. For example, the United States military often lowers supplies from a rotary winged aircraft (e.g., a helicopter) to ground troops. In some instances, there is even a need to deliver mission...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Origami-Inspired Robot Fits in Tight Spaces

Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) were inspired by origami when they developed the Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robot (PUFFER). Its lightweight design — which can hitch a ride aboard a rover — can flatten itself, tucking in its wheels and crawling into places that larger robots...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Software Interface Simplifies Robot Control

The traditional interface for remotely operating robots works well for roboticists. They use a computer screen and mouse to independently control six degrees of freedom, turning three virtual rings and adjusting arrows to get the robot into position to grab items or perform a specific task. But for...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Composite C-Channel Incrementally Adjustable Fluid Control System

The ability to selectively adjust levels and flow rates in fluid control systems is a fundamental aspect of dredged material and fluid management, and necessary to numerous farm and industrial processes. Historically, fluid management structures such as gates and weirs offer...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Exo-Brake Enables Safe Return for Small Spacecraft
Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Mechanical Metamaterials Block Symmetry of Motion

Engineers and scientists at the University of Texas at Austin and the AMOLF institute in the Netherlands have invented mechanical metamaterials that easily transfer motion in one direction while blocking it in the other. The material can be thought of as a mechanical one-way shield that blocks...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Portable Superconductivity Systems for Small Motors

Superconductivity, where electrical currents travel unhindered through a material, has many practical uses. It is used in applications extending from MRIs in hospitals to the cavities of particle accelerators. However, practical exploitation of superconductivity also presents many...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Six-Legged Robots Move Faster with Bipod Gate

Six-legged insects run fastest using a three-legged (tripod) gait where they have three legs on the ground at all times (two on one side of their body and one on the other). The tripod gait has long inspired engineers who design six-legged robots, but researchers at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Reducing Inaccuracies in Force/Haptic Feedback Systems

Researchers at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center have developed a new technology to reduce inaccuracies in force/haptic feedback devices and systems. Used at NASA in aircraft simulations for force feedback pilot controls, these systems involve a servo motor applying precise force to a...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Rescue Robot Has Remote Control Function

A group of researchers at Osaka University, Kobe University, Tohoku University, The University of Tokyo, and Tokyo Institute of Technology developed construction robots for disaster relief that solve the various challenges of conventional construction machines used in such situations. Using a prototype...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Small Robot Has Outstanding Vertical Agility

Roboticists at the University of California, Berkeley, have designed a small robot that can leap into the air and then spring off a wall, or perform multiple vertical jumps in a row, resulting in what they claim is the highest robotic vertical jumping agility ever recorded. The agility of the robot...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Interactive Robot Control System and Method of Use

Researchers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC), in collaboration with General Motors and Oceaneering, have designed a state-of-the-art, highly dexterous, humanoid robot: Robonaut 2 (R2). R2 is made up of multiple systems and subcomponents: vision systems, image-recognition systems, sensors,...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Piezoelectric Actuator with Dual Horns that are Separately Controllable to Drive Miniature Vehicles Along a Single Axis

Actuators are a critical driver of all the mechanisms used in space, and improvements of their operation mechanism enhance mission capabilities. The disclosed invention is a new type of actuator that simultaneously drives dual...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Robot Powertrain Moves Toward Energy Autonomy

Inspecting the condition of dykes and other sea defense structures is typically a task for a team of robots. They consume a lot of energy to move across the dykes, perform tests, and communicate the results for six hours a day. Because charging stations are not a realistic scenario, University of...

Briefs : Motion Control
Evaluation Standard for Robotic Research

The Yale-CMU-Berkeley (YCB) Object and Model Set provides universal benchmarks for labs specializing in robotic manipulation and prosthetics. About two years ago, Aaron Dollar, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Yale University, came up with the benchmark idea to...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Lunar Regolith Simulant Sample Collection Mechanism for Remote Operation in a Thermal Vacuum Chamber

The Sample Capture Mechanism (SCM) is a remotely actuated, spring-driven mechanism designed to remotely capture and seal a 15-mL sample in less than 1 second. It was used to capture a 10-g sample of simulated regolith dispensed from a drill in a...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Sonar Inspection Robot System

NASA’s Johnson Space Center innovators have designed a Robotic Inspection System that is capable of surveying deep sea structures such as oil platform storage cells/tanks and pipelines in order to determine the volume of material remaining inside, interrogate structure integrity, and display real-time video and...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Robonaut 2: Industrial Opportunities

Researchers at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC), in collaboration with General Motors (GM) and Oceaneering, have designed a state-of-the-art, highly dexterous, humanoid robot: Robonaut 2 (R2). R2’s nearly 50 patented and patent-pending technologies have the potential to be game-changers in many...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Vessel Sealing Device for Robotic Devices

Invasive surgical procedures are essential for addressing various medical conditions. When possible, minimally invasive procedures are preferred, but these technologies are often limited in scope and complexity. These limitations are due in part to mobility restrictions from the use of rigid tools in...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Residual Mode Filters

NASA has developed a unique control algorithm and synthesis method that uses a system’s output to modify control inputs to cause the system to track a reference model or a fixed value in the presence of unmodeled system dynamics, varying operating environments, and unpredictable disturbances. The unique feature of this...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Probabilistic Surface Characterization for Safe Landing Hazard Detection and Avoidance (HDA)

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has developed a probabilistic algorithm for hazard detection and avoidance (HDA) that robustly handles sensor noise. Conventional surface characterization methods use fixed hazard thresholds to determine hazardous...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Robot for Controlled Deposition of Multilayer Thin Film Structures

During deposition of thin film layers using shadow masking techniques, thin film layer structure morphology changes with respect to the position of the thin film layer and the shadow of the mask. Morphology changes in the thin film result in refractive index and density changes...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Walk and Roll Robot

In smooth terrain, the most efficient motion to traverse the terrain is rolling. However, when a wheeled vehicle encounters obstacles, it must circumvent them if possible or choose an alternate path. Legged vehicles can traverse such obstacles by stepping over them, but are not energy efficient on smooth terrain. The Walk and...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Human Grasp Assist Device with Exoskeleton

Researchers at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC), in collaboration with General Motors (GM), have designed and developed Robo-Glove, a wearable human grasp assist device, to help reduce the grasping force needed by an individual to operate tools for an extended time or when performing tasks having...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Electromagnetic Monitoring and Control of a Plurality of Nanosatellites

NASA has developed an innovative combination of a Magnetometer, low-powered ElectroMagnets, and Res onant Inductive Coupling (MEMRIC) to create and control relative positioning of nanosatellites within a cluster. This is a game-changing approach to enable distributed...