Mechanical/​Mechatronics

Stay updated on advancements in mechanical components and mechatronics systems. New technologies in MEMs, fluid systems, and propulsion are driving breakthroughs in transportation, electrification, autonomous driving, and manufacturing.

Briefs : Aerospace
Novel Turboelectric Aircraft Design
Novel Turboelectric Aircraft Design

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a novel aircraft design that can carry 150+ passengers over a range of 3,500 nautical miles. Key features include a turboelectric propulsion system, twin...

Novel Turboelectric Aircraft Design
Articles : Manufacturing & Prototyping
3D-Printed Lab on Wheels
3D-Printed Lab on Wheels

Next-generation manufacturing takes on a 50-year-old icon as ORNL researchers transform the classic Shelby Cobra sports car into a 3D-printed laboratory on wheels. Additive manufacturing enables the seamless...

3D-Printed Lab on Wheels
Question of the Week : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Can a Harpoon Help with Space Clean-Up?

Once released from the International Space Station, the "RemoveDEBRIS" spacecraft will facilitate four demonstrations. One of the ideas: A harpoon. During the scheduled RemoveDEBRIS demo, the spear will be aimed at a target plate made of representative satellite materials.

Question of the Week : Robotics, Automation & Control
Will 'jet-powered' feet support search-and-rescue applications?

Tech Briefs TV this week featured research from the Guangdong University of Technology in China: A team of engineers developed a ducted-fan propulsion system that drives the legs of a bipedal robot. Watch the video, and let us know what you think.

Blog : Green Design & Manufacturing
How to Control Vehicle Emissions: Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) or Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR)?
How to Control Vehicle Emissions: Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) or Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR)?
What's the best platform for controlling vehicle emissions? "It depends!" says one engine expert.
How to Control Vehicle Emissions: Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) or Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR)?
Podcasts : Aerospace
Here's an Idea: Rockets
Here's an Idea: Rockets

On a snowy day in 1926, a physicist named Robert Goddard set out to his Aunt Effie's ranch. What happened next was not your typical day on the farm – Goddard launched the first liquid-propellant rocket.

Here's an Idea: Rockets
Blog : Aerospace
Aboard SpaceX Cargo Capsule, New Ideas for Getting Rid of Space Junk
Aboard SpaceX Cargo Capsule, New Ideas for Getting Rid of Space Junk
A “RemoveDEBRIS” satellite set to launch today will demonstrate new ideas for clearing out space junk near the International Space Station.
Aboard SpaceX Cargo Capsule, New Ideas for Getting Rid of Space Junk
Products : Motion Control
New Products: April 2018 Motion Design
New Products: April 2018 Motion Design

Mounted Ball Bearings

SKF (Lansdale, PA) launched mounted ball bearing units with industry-standard inch series cast iron housings in several designs, inch or metric insert bearings, and...

New Products: April 2018 Motion Design
Briefs : Medical
Miniature “Pop-Up” Robot Combines Micrometer Precision and High Speed
Miniature “Pop-Up” Robot Combines Micrometer Precision and High Speed

Because of their high precision and speed, Delta robots are deployed in many industrial processes, including pick-and-place assemblies, machining, and welding. Delta...

Miniature “Pop-Up” Robot Combines Micrometer Precision and High Speed
Application Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
NASA's Autonomous Robot Keeps Manufacturing Floors Safe
NASA's Autonomous Robot Keeps Manufacturing Floors Safe

A600-pound spider-like robot, called Spidernaut, was part of a prototype robot team built in 2005 to assemble a solar array on the Moon. The goal was not only to have robots do the...

NASA's Autonomous Robot Keeps Manufacturing Floors Safe
Articles : Photonics/Optics
Protecting Sensitive Instruments with Piezo-Driven Active Vibration Isolation Platforms
Protecting Sensitive Instruments with Piezo-Driven Active Vibration Isolation Platforms

As the need for nano precision has become increasingly important in many fields of research and manufacturing — such as microelectronics fabrication,...

Protecting Sensitive Instruments with Piezo-Driven Active Vibration Isolation Platforms
Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
Choosing the Right Brake for Robotic Applications
Choosing the Right Brake for Robotic Applications

Industrial robots play an essential role in manufacturing, from assembly, to pick-and-place, to packaging. One of the major risks of robotics — and what OEMs seek to mitigate — is...

Choosing the Right Brake for Robotic Applications
Articles : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Industrial Rotary Encoders: Selecting the Right Device for Your Application
Industrial Rotary Encoders: Selecting the Right Device for Your Application

Rotary encoders play important roles in motion control and industrial automation systems, providing control systems with information about the motion of motor...

Industrial Rotary Encoders: Selecting the Right Device for Your Application
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Autonomous Robotic Self-Righting

Robots are increasingly being used for various applications including search and rescue operations and combat situations. Unfortunately, during the performance of maneuvers, a robot may fall or tip over, preventing it from moving normally. Controlling the robot to successfully right itself can be a difficult and...

Briefs : Aerospace
System and Method for Managing Autonomous Entities Through Apoptosis

This NASA innovation is a biologically inspired system management method designed to make sensor webs as well as other autonomous and autonomic systems more self-directing and self-managing. Based on the mechanisms of cell apoptosis, this method ensures safe and correct...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Axial Magnetic Flux Airflow Integrated Compressor-Generator-Motor Turbojet Design

Innovators at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center have developed a compressor-generator-motor turbojet design concept that integrates the generator with the aerodynamic blade structures of the compression section of turbomachinery. This reduces weight and...

Briefs : Materials
Solar-Powered Device Generates Electricity Through Ion Transport
Solar-Powered Device Generates Electricity Through Ion Transport

By binding photosensitive dyes to common plastic membranes and adding water, chemists have made a new type of solar power generator. The device is similar to familiar silicon...

Solar-Powered Device Generates Electricity Through Ion Transport
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Orangutank Robotic Pipe Traveler
Orangutank Robotic Pipe Traveler

The Orangutank™ is a remote-controlled, tethered robotic platform for traveling from one pipe to another using a network of vertical pipes for support. It combines specialized robotic grippers to provide...

Orangutank Robotic Pipe Traveler
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Self-Learning Robot Hands Adapt to Grasp Objects
Self-Learning Robot Hands Adapt to Grasp Objects

Anew grasp system with robotic hands works without previously knowing the characteristics of objects, learning by trial and error. The robot features two hands based on human hands in terms of...

Self-Learning Robot Hands Adapt to Grasp Objects
Briefs : Materials
Technique for Chemically Combining Soft Materials
Technique for Chemically Combining Soft Materials

Every complex human tool has contained multiple materials wedged, tied, screwed, glued, or soldered together. But the next generation of tools, from autonomous squishy robots to flexible...

Technique for Chemically Combining Soft Materials
Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Robotic Gripper for Satellite Capture and Servicing
Robotic Gripper for Satellite Capture and Servicing

The robotic gripper was developed at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center as part of a robotic satellite servicing mission. The gripping device can be used to autonomously or remotely grasp and...

Robotic Gripper for Satellite Capture and Servicing
Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
Controllable Dry Adhesive for Efficient Climbing Robot
Controllable Dry Adhesive for Efficient Climbing Robot

A small robot with the ability to hoist large loads could have countless applications, not only as a small, inexpensive, disposable, mobile sensor in the realms of search and rescue,...

Controllable Dry Adhesive for Efficient Climbing Robot
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Pressure Sensor Mechanism

The Pressure Sensor Mechanism is designed to measure or monitor tactile pressure. It is based on passive Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) sensor tags and is applicable to a variety of systems. As RFID sensors transmit information wirelessly, they eliminate many challenges associated with traditional wired systems...

Briefs : Data Acquisition
Sound Inaudible to Humans Can Be Recorded by Microphones
Sound Inaudible to Humans Can Be Recorded by Microphones

Microphones, from those in smartphones to hearing aids, are built specifically to hear the human voice — humans can’t hear at levels higher than 20 kHz, and microphones max out at...

Sound Inaudible to Humans Can Be Recorded by Microphones
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Method Creates Wood Substance Stronger Than Titanium

A new way to treat wood makes it 12 times stronger than natural wood and ten times tougher. The wood substance could be comparable to steel or titanium alloys; it is also comparable to carbon fiber, but much less expensive.

Articles : Electronics & Computers
Circuit Protection Challenges for Battery Management Systems
Circuit Protection Challenges for Battery Management Systems

The market for higher-voltage automotive systems is expanding. The number of electric vehicles that use battery-powered drive systems having voltage equal to or higher than 48V is...

Circuit Protection Challenges for Battery Management Systems
Q&A : Automotive
Q&A: Dr. Abhaya Datye Creates a More Powerful Emission-Control Catalyst

Researchers at Washington State University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the University of New Mexico have created a catalyst capable of reducing pollutants at the lower temperatures expected in advanced engines. Their work presents a new way to create a more...

Briefs : Energy
Aluminum as a Fuel
Aluminum as a Fuel

Batteries and combustion engines each have distinctive benefits and limitations. Batteries have simple construction and operate silently; however, their energy density (i.e., the energy per unit volume) is poor, and...

Aluminum as a Fuel
Briefs : Motion Control
Thruster-Based Attitude and Translation Control with Minimum Pulse-Count Disturbance Rejection

Thruster-based control typically requires a substantial engineering effort in order to mitigate an important issue: the control system tends to use many thruster pulses to accomplish what a single thruster pulse could do instead. This fundamental...

Briefs : Energy
High-Voltage Power System for Hybrid Electric Aircraft Propulsion
High-Voltage Power System for Hybrid Electric Aircraft Propulsion

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a variable-frequency, alternating current (AC) power system to enable turbo-electric and hybrid electric...

High-Voltage Power System for Hybrid Electric Aircraft Propulsion