Motion Control/​Automation

Explore the latest developments in motion control and automation. Discover innovative advances from NASA and major research labs in robotics, autonomous vehicles, industrial automation, PID controller applications, motor drives and power transmissions.

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...

Two types of gear drives have been devised to improve the performances of robotic mechanisms. One type features a dual-input/single-output differential-drive configuration intended to...

The figure schematically illustrates part of an accelerometer in which a feedback control subsystem applies voltages to generate electrostatic forces to minimize the displacement of a...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Linear-translation motors containing inertial-reaction masses driven by magnetostrictive actuator elements are undergoing development. These motors could be used to make fine position...

Briefs: Motion Control
Device for High-Pressure Fused Deposition of Engineering Polymers From Feed Rods

A more versatile delivery system for fused deposition has recently been developed. This system uses a very stiff, precise, and compact actuator to drive a small piston/cylinder extruder that has a heated nozzle. Because feed rods are used as the feed material, this...

Briefs: Motion Control
Earthwormlike Exploratory Robots

Mobile robots that would resemble earthworms have been proposed for use in exploring remote, hostile, or inaccessible terrain surface and subsurface environments. This class of robots would be a special case...

A design has been developed for manufacturing multispeed transmissions that are small enough to be used with minimotors - electromagnetic motors with power ratings of less than 1 W. Like...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & 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...

Briefs: Motion Control
Hydraulically Driven High-Speed Spindle for General Machining

A hydraulically driven high-speed spindle system for milling, machining, facing, drilling, and joining metallic and nonmetallic materials has been developed. Spindles are the most critical elements of high-speed milling machines. The keys to successful design of high-speed spindles...

A robust, optimal, adaptive technique for compensating rate and position limits in the joints of a six-degree-of-freedom manipulator has been developed. In this new algorithm,...

Briefs: Propulsion
Hybrid Propulsion System for Returning a Sample From Mars

A paper suggests the development of a hybrid rocket engine and associated equipment for returning a sample of material from Mars at relatively low cost. In a hybrid rocket engine, a solid fuel is burned by use of a liquid or gaseous oxidizer, the flow of which can be throttled to control...

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...

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"...

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...

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...

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