NASA places $14M in funding in direction of delicate robots, flash lidar and different analysis initiatives


NASA has introduced the newest beneficiaries of its Small Enterprise Know-how Switch program, which solicits and funds small-scale analysis initiatives exterior the company however related to its pursuits. Nineteen initiatives in quite a lot of fields are being awarded a complete of $14.three million.

These 19 have been chosen from an preliminary pool of 56 introduced final 12 months; these “Section I” firms and establishments have been awarded as much as $125,000 to pursue their proposals, and would have reported on their progress to NASA later. The surviving 19 “Section II” initiatives presumably confirmed sufficient promise that they’ll stand up to $750,000 to maintain going.

You’ll be able to peruse all of them right here, however listed here are the 5 I discovered most attention-grabbing:

  • Mango Supplies is making a space-compatible bioreactor for producing methane-based biopolymers. Principally they’re engaged on a technique to feed micro organism methane and make usable plastic come out the opposite finish, inside the limitations of microgravity and so forth.
  • Otherlab — you might bear in mind the corporate’s cardboard drone — is engaged on sensors which might be as versatile because the delicate robotic platform they’ll be a part of. Your fingers can inform when and the way laborious they’re gripping one thing, so shouldn’t it’s the identical for our robots?
  • Fibertek claims it may possibly scale back the scale and enhance the effectivity of lidar methods by combining quite a few methods: flash (versus scanning) imaging, 3D printing and “an ultra-compact unstable or close to secure ring resonator.” They undoubtedly didn’t make up that final one.
  • Utilized Analysis LLC (sounds sketchy) desires to enhance the efficiency of the picture processing executed onboard landers and rovers. New algorithms would make it quicker and simpler to get depth-enhanced (or VR) views from the stereo cameras on mastcams. There’s additionally lots of speak about multispectral picture cubes.
  • Talking of multispectral imagery, Nanohmics claims to have produced a tool that accomplishes it with out the cumbersome lenses and filters normally crucial. Its chip-scale sensor is compact, versatile and has no shifting elements — excellent for many missions, however particularly planetary imaging.

These initiatives and the opposite 14 will show themselves (or not) over the subsequent two years, after which they may encounter (predictably) the Submit Section II Initiatives and Alternatives. Suppose your organization or analysis could be match? Try the STTR/SBIR fundamentals web page and get applyin’.

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