ROBOTICS AND AUTONOMY


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============================================================================================== Robotic Surgical Assistant

Robotic Surgical Assistant

Computer Motion, Inc.(merged with Intuitive Surgical)

Commercial Application

Computer Motion developed robotic assistants that support surgeons in a number of minimally invasive surgical procedures. Sales of the original design exceeded 300 units generating revenues in excess of $6 million. Under a second SBIR contract, voice control, force sensitive retraction of the robotic arm and other improvements led to a more advanced model that could support a wide range of surgical procedures. Computer Motion merged with Intuitive Surgical to form the leader in operative surgical assistants.

NASA Application

Advanced versions of the robotic surgical assistant may someday carry out surgical procedures in space under the direction of surgeons on the Earth.

Social/Economic Benefit

Robotic surgical assistants have potential application in the nearly one million endoscopic surgical procedures performed each year in the U.S. alone. The technology provides significant cost savings since it eliminates the need for a surgical assistant to hold the laparoscope during surgery and reduce operation times. Also, the steady grip of a robotic arm increases the safety of endoscopic surgical procedures.
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============================================================================================== Work Scene Visualization

Interactive Robot with Work Scene Visualization


Cybernet Systems, Inc.

Commercial Application

Technology was incorporated into a joy stick application and licensed to Immersion Corporation for game applications. Cybernet Systems also worked with Ford Motor Company, the United Auto Workers and the Air Force/Army Human Engineering on assembly line applications.

NASA Application

The combination of human and robotic skills made possible with Cybernet System's innovation furthered investigator’s understanding of the use of robotics for space assembly work.

Social/Economic Benefit

Operator controlled robots supported by 3-D graphical representations and tactical feedback controllers represent a significant advance toward the use of robotics for a wide range of applications.
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============================================================================================== 3-D Image Generation

Simulation Testbed for Designing Robotic Vision Systems


Vexcel Corporation

Commercial Application

Vexcel’s photogrammetry software processes photographic images of a scene into an accurate three dimensional model. This software is used by engineers to redesign industrial facilities and by artists to animate movie sets. Sales for commercial applications reached $1/2 million annually.

NASA Application

The software provides a simulation testbed for the design of robot vision systems and for simulating their performance.

Social/Economic Benefit

Photogrammetry software provides significant cost savings in the redesign of industrial facilities, animation work with movie sets, and similar applications involving three dimensional scene construction. NASA design work on novel robot computer vision systems is enhanced by the simulation testbed capabilities of the software.
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============================================================================================== Autonomous Robot Operation

Autonomous Operation Robotic Vehicle System


Omnitech Robotics, Inc.

Commercial Application

Omnitech provides a kit of modular components for converting any vehicle to remote control, teleoperated control, or semi autonomous control. The system has been applied to vehicles for military and commercial application ranging from land mine clearing to routine patrol for environmental monitoring. Sales reached $250,000 annually.

NASA Application

Applications in human exploration and development of space, providing both teleremote and autonomous navigation for vehicles using guidance and control sensing.

Social/Economic Benefit

Autonomous and teloperated vehicles can carry out hazardous tasks such has the movement of dangerous materials or detection of explosives, avoiding exposure to humans. Routine tasks such as perimeter security monitoring or environmental monitoring may soon become the responsibility of robots.
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============================================================================================== Software for Shuttle Launch Operations

Software Development Package for Intelligent Reactive Systems


Real-Time Innovations, Inc.

Commercial Application

Software development tool kit was used at the Kennedy Space Flight Center in developing a redesigned Shuttle checkout and launch control system. Real-Time Innovations has won additional federal research and development contracts for product and enjoys significant commercial sales for the product, Constellation.

NASA Application

The software development tool kit was used by NASA for the redesign of the Space Shuttle checkout and launch control system at the Kennedy Space Flight Center. The software tool kit is a potential candidate for several future NASA missions involving robotic vehicle control, rovers, and robots.

Social/Economic Benefit

The software provides significant cost and time savings for developers of software for autonomous, reactive systems.
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============================================================================================== Ultrasonic Rock Drill

Ultrasonic Drill and Corer


Cybersonics, Inc.

Commercial Application

An ultrasonic rock driller and corer was developed by Cybersonics, Inc. under a SBIR contract that requires minimal axial loading and pressure. A test demonstration has been performed from a 4 kilogram platform where a 1 inch deep hole was drilled in granite. Cybersonics has a number of government sponsors to develop the technology for applications from drills for space exploration to quiet drills for concrete.

NASA Application

The technology is under development at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for future NASA small bodies exploration and Mars mission. The drill is also being developed for Antarctic exploration.

Social/Economic Benefit

The technology has the potential to improve the performance of future NASA exploration and sample return missions. The technology allows drilling without the axial loading and pressure of conventional drilling.
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============================================================================================== Holographic Imaging System

3-D Visualization System for Robotic Teleoperations


Physical Optics Corporation

Commercial Application

The 3-D color holographic system which provides high quality, real time 3-D visualization is under further for several applications. Physical Optics Corporation is working with the Army on a medical imaging system, a Japanese company on a game application and the Ford Motor Company on an automotive design tool.

NASA Application

Potential NASA applications include holographic displays for future missions and 3-D autocad displays for spacecraft design.

Social/Economic Benefit

Real time 3-D image displays have many potential applications in the field of design and demonstration. These displays can be observed without the aid of special glasses.
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============================================================================================== Software for Autonomous Joint Spacecraft Operations Demonstration

Software for Autonomous Spacecraft Operation and Control


Scientific Systems Company, Inc.

Commercial Application

Scientific Systems Company, Inc. developed software for the autonomous guidance, navigation and control of individual and multiple spacecraft. The work lead to a contract with JPL to develop software for a multiple spacecraft autonomous flight demonstration. In addition, the technology positioned the company to win a $2 million subcontract with Northrup Grumman on a DARPA contract for autonomous intelligence gathering system for the Navy.

NASA Application

Scientific Systems received $1.9 million under contract with JPL for technology flight demonstration on New Millennium ST-6 mission before cancellation (flight test on Air Force Laboratory microsat spacecraft). This capability will be required for future NASA missions involving autonomous spacecraft operations.

Social/Economic Benefit

Software for autonomous spacecraft operations is an enabling technology for several planned NASA missions involving autonomous spacecraft operations and high precision formation flying.
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============================================================================================== System for Autonomous Vehicle Operation

High Precision Autonomous Vehicle Operation


American GNC Corporation

Commercial Application

American GNC Corporation has developed a high precision guidance and control system for future NASA mission applications. Commercial sales are approaching $1 million for robotic vehicles in security and industrial applications.

NASA Application

This high precision guidance and control technology may some day find application in a Mars sample return mission or other NASA satellite or planetary missions with similar mission requirements.

Social/Economic Benefit

Future NASA science missions will depend on this type of technology to operate efficiently. Robotic vehicles are assuming many high risk jobs in the area of security and dangerous material handling made possible by advanced guidance and control systems.
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============================================================================================== Sample Capture Demonstration on NASA’s C-9 “vomit comet”

Mars Orbiting Sample Retrieval Testbed


Payload Systems, Inc.

Commercial Application

Payload Systems received $175,000 for zero gravity flight demonstration on NASA’s C-9 “vomit comet”. The Depatment of Defense is another potential customer for rendezvous and docking technology for the purpose of re-supply, maintenance, and upgrading of orbital assets.

NASA Application

Autonomous retrieval of a orbiting sample is one of the most technically complex challenges facing a Mars sample return mission. Future NASA Mars sample return mission application are likely.

Social/Economic Benefit

Payload Systems' technology has helped to remove one of the important barriers to a future NASA sample return mission from another planet or moon.
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============================================================================================== Detecting and Identifying Land Mines

Electromagnetic Sensor for Subsurface Exploration


Geophex, Ltd.

Commercial Application

Geophex has developed small antenna sensor technology that can detect differences in the electromagnetic properties of subsurface features to depths of 30 feet. This capability has resulted in initial contracts with the Army and Navy with a combined value in excess of a million dollars for mine detectors.

NASA Application

This technology could Support the development of a planetary exploration instrument for the detection of water and ice at deeps up to 30 feet below the surface.

Social/Economic Benefit

Improved land mine detection capability could save many lives in the armed forces as will as prevent civilian causalities in military conflict zones.
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============================================================================================== Planetary Gear Box

High Performance Planetary Gear Box


Starsys Research, Inc. (Purchased by Sierra Nevada Corp.)

Commercial Application

Planetary gearbox were developed with improved mass to torque ratio and high reduction ratio. New design and material selection has made a significant reduction in size and mass possible. Potential applications include antenna and solar array driving mechanisms and deployment mechanisms. Commercial applications expected in the space industry.

NASA Application

Planetary gearboxes are being produced for the Mars Science Laboratory scheduled for 2011 launch. Mars Science Laboratory applications are in the articulating arm and descent braking mechanism.

Social/Economic Benefit

Reduced size and mass will result in cost savings for space missions.


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