NASA SBIR 2014 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 14-2 H20.01-8788
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Human-Robotic Systems - Manipulation Subsystem and Human-System Interaction
PROPOSAL TITLE: Pneubotics - Membrane-Based Robotics for Remote Material Handling

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Otherlab, Inc.
3101 20th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110 - 2714
(415) 970-2209

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Kevin Albert
3101 20th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110 - 2714
(617) 372-6915

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
James McBride
3101 20th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110 - 2714
(617) 642-7310

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 4
End: 6

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Human-Robotic Systems - Manipulation Subsystem and Human-System Interaction is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
We have invented a new class of robotics, called `Pneubotics', that rival current manipulators in payload and reach at 1/10th the weight. Our technology leverages insights into lightweight materials and mass manufacturing to create robots that derive power, structure, and movement from pressurized air. As a result, drive trains, motors, bearings, shafts, sliding surfaces, and excess structural material are eliminated, leading to robots with extremely high strength to weight ratios, inherently human safe operation, and high degrees of freedom at low part count. This transformative new technology has the potential to enable the widespread use of automated handling of material and equipment on missions in low Earth orbit and beyond. The compliant nature of these robotic systems allows them to robustly grasp arbitrarily shaped objects and makes them ideal for operating around sensitive equipment and materials or cooperatively with humans. Similarly, due to their fluidic architecture they can be deflated and stowed for efficient transport. The work described in this phase II SBIR proposal would integrate the component development and analysis performed in Phase I to build and test a full prototype manipulation system. By incorporating optical, internal, and tactile sensors and multi-level controls that take advantage of the unique characteristics of the manipulator and seek out appropriate contact to guide motion rather than avoiding it. By testing the entire prototype system in the field we will demonstrate operation in the ground environment and learn valuable lessons for IVA and EVA applications.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Pneubotic systems offer robust grasping, human safe operation, and efficient transportation, vital qualities for robotic manipulators that are part of NASA missions. This unique technology enables a diverse set of applications at several scales, including on-orbit astronaut support, tele-operated servicing and operations, manipulation of the local environment by extra-terrestrial rovers, and even safe capture systems at the large scale. The lightweight, fully compliant structure alleviates concerns about errant motion during interactions with humans while the use of fabric manufacturing techniques allows for the construction of complex shapes and light systems that pack small.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Due to the low weight and price point of Pneubotic technology, high performance manipulators with the strength of industrial arms become available to mobile applications. The commercial potential of such a product is immense and has applications in a wide range of markets including manufacturing, agriculture, military, commercial, and consumer. We are targeting an untapped sector of the global material handling market that we are calling "mobile material handling." This market includes tasks that take place outside the confines of a structured industrial cell where objects between 10kg - 30kg need to be moved short distances. Distribution centers, fulfillment centers, package delivery, and baggage centers are all potential customers. Traditionally, these applications have resisted robotics due to their high cost, weight, lack of mobility, and need for safety cages. Pneubotics can uniquely address the challenges presented by mobile material handling and offer a product that replaces pallet jacks and hand trucks with safe, human-controlled machine systems.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.)
Actuators & Motors
Algorithms/Control Software & Systems (see also Autonomous Systems)
Autonomous Control (see also Control & Monitoring)
Machines/Mechanical Subsystems
Man-Machine Interaction
Pressure & Vacuum Systems
Robotics (see also Control & Monitoring; Sensors)

Form Generated on 04-14-15 17:14