NASA has announced it is investing in 25 early-stage technology proposals that will improve current systems, introduce new capabilities, and transform the future of human and robotic space exploration.
The selected proposals are listed under the 2018 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase I concepts. To support the initial stages of each idea, Phase I awards allot approximately $125,000 over a nine-month period.
“The 2018 Phase I competition was especially fierce, with over 230 proposals and only 25 winners,” says Jason Derleth, NIAC program executive. “I can’t wait to see what the new NIAC Fellows can do for NASA!”
Some highlights include, “Shapeshifters from Science Fiction to Science Fact: Globetrotting from Titan’s Rugged Cliffs to its Deep Seafloors,” a proposal by Aliakbar Aghamohammadi, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. The concept consists of a flying amphibious robot (FAR) comprised of smaller robotic units, known as cobots. Together, the robotic platform can move across multiple domains such as flying, rolling on smooth surfaces, navigating subsurface voids, floating, and propelling under water.
The “Lofted Environmental and Atmospheric Venus Sensors (LEAVES)” proposal, by Jeffrey Balcerski, Ohio Aerospace Institute, Cleveland, centers on an ultra-lightweight sensor package. The cost-effective design is built to withstand the harsh atmospheric conditions of Venus, but can serve as a generic platform for various planetary missions.
Enhancing the tech bound for Mars is the “Marsbee—Swarm of Flapping Wing Flyers for Enhanced Mars Exploration” design by Chang-kwon Kang, University of Alabama, Huntsville. The Mars rover architecture will act as a mobile base and include a swarm of Marsbees, which are robotic flapping wing flyers. The Marsbees will be embedded with sensors and wireless communication devices.
If Phase I designs show basic feasibility, participants can apply to Phase II. The second round of studies allows awardees the chance to refine and enhance their designs.
The full list of 2018 Phase I and II proposals can be found here.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense, Robotics • robotic grippers • end effectors