Special Coverage

NASA Supercomputer Simulations Reveal 'Noisy' Aerodynamics
Robotic Gripper Cleans Up Space Debris
Soft Robot “Walks” on Any Terrain
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Using Microwaves to Produce High-Quality Graphene
Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space

Autonomous Vehicle Standards – A Comprehensive Discussion

Vehicle Connectivity, including the real prospects of hands-free and fully autonomous driving, is revolutionizing personal mobility as profoundly as the invention of the automobile did 130 years ago. Cars, light trucks, and commercial vehicles equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P), and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technologies will reduce crashes, energy consumption and pollution, as well as mitigate the costs associated with traffic and parking congestion.

Posted in: On-Demand Webinars, Automation
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Piezoelectric Actuator with Dual Horns 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 mechanisms (e.g., rotors, wheels, etc.) at opposite sides of a piezoelectric stack using the generated vibrations. The actuator consists of dual-sided horns and is capable of operating ratcheting mechanisms through walls.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation
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Mineral Analyzer Shakes Answers Out of Soil and Rocks

On the Curiosity rover, a tool called CheMin (Chemistry and Mineralogy) is helping scientists determine what minerals make up the Martian landscape, and whether single-celled or more complex organisms could once have thrived there. CheMin sends an X-ray beam through tiny samples of Martian soil or rock, recording how the beam scatters as it bounces against atomic planes of the different minerals contained within. The technique, called X-ray powder diffraction (XRD), has been around for a long time, but the tools commonly used were not practical for a robotic mission millions of miles from the nearest human hands.

Posted in: Spinoff, Articles, Robotics, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Soils, Robotics, Test equipment and instrumentation
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Products of Tomorrow: November 2017

This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. To learn more about each technology, see the contact information provided for that innovation.

Posted in: Articles, Products, Batteries, Energy Storage, Fluid Handling, Implants & Prosthetics, Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy, Robotics, Ultracapacitors and supercapacitors, Ultracapacitors and supercapacitors, Air pollution, Medical equipment and supplies
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Crab Crawl Maneuver for Independently Steerable Wheeled Platforms

An industrial-class excavator was developed for use on the Moon and perhaps on Mars. The model mobility platform uses Ackerman Steering with active drives on all six wheels, and steering on the corners. A faulty sequence of wheel steering and driving commands resulted in undocumented behaviors in a simulation and rendering program that appear to have actual applicability to surface operations. Quite by accident, it was discovered that by applying power and steering to the wheels in a complex pattern, the excavator could move laterally, hard to starboard. The intended command was “reverse,” and the execution was a seemingly random turning and driving of all of the simulated six wheels. The faulty behavior was employed to remove the robotic platform when it was stuck on rocks, and enabled the platform to “scoot” side-ways, successfully disentangling from the rocks. The method drove the wheels in the direction of the intended motion, while steering them in a sweeping motion, and the apparent motion resembles swimming.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation, Electronic steering control, Finite element analysis, Product development, Construction vehicles and equipment, Spacecraft
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Continuous Diagnostic System Predicts Industrial Robot Faults

Robots in production lines work with micrometer precision, unless a component fails. If, for example, the linear actuator used to precisely position a car body in front of an assembly robot is damaged, the robotic arm will no longer be able to position the car door exactly. The result is a misaligned door.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation, On-board diagnostics, On-board diagnostics (OBD), On-board diagnostics, On-board diagnostics (OBD), Manufacturing equipment and machinery, Robotics, Reliability, Reliability
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Trick or Treat: Spooky Space Sounds from NASA, and 8 Techs that Creep and Crawl

Getting into the Halloween spirit, NASA released a collection of the spookiest sounds ever recorded by the agency's spacecraft instruments. Captured radio emissions reveal whistling helium, howling planets, and other mysterious noises from the depths of space.

Posted in: News, Aeronautics, Aerospace, Robotics, Data Acquisition, Detectors, Sensors
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Vacuum System Powers Modular Soft Robot

Researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have created the first functional robot powered entirely by vacuum. It is made up of soft building blocks that move by having air sucked out of them. The robot can be reconfigured to perform different tasks, like climbing vertical walls and grabbing objects.

Posted in: INSIDER, Robotics
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Multi-Legged Robot Reconfigures in Real Time

Scientists at Disney Research, Pittsburgh, PA have developed a modular, reconfigurable legged robot named Snapbot that can move forward, interact with its environment, and perform other tasks based on a number of possible configurations. This system identifies its current configuration using only internal sensors and utilizes a corresponding motion strategy to complete its task. The motion strategy changes as it is physically reconfigured in real-time.

Posted in: INSIDER, Robotics
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Creating the Future: An Industrial Robot Climbs to the Top

Petrochemical and liquid gas companies require a regular inspection of a vessel's welds and wall thicknesses — a dangerous task given the hazardous environment. A climbing robot, category winner in the 2017 “Create the Future” Design Contest, is potentially up to the challenge.

Posted in: News, Robotics
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