NASA SBIR 2015 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 15-1 S4.02-9372
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Robotic Mobility, Manipulation and Sampling
PROPOSAL TITLE: Industrial Electrostatic-Gecko Gripper

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Somatis Sensor Solutions
411 South Hewitt Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013 - 2215
(213) 477-0710

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr. Nicholas Wettels
411 S. Hewitt St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013 - 2215
(213) 477-0710

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr. Nicholas Wettels
411 S. Hewitt St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013 - 2215
(213) 477-0710

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 4

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Robotic Mobility, Manipulation and Sampling 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)
Perception Robotics is developing an innovative product, the "Electrostatic Gecko Gripper" (ESG Gripper), for the industrial automation market. This unique gripping solution overcomes the shortcomings of vacuum grippers by eliminating the need for a compressed air system and offering more rapid actuation, thus achieving significant cost savings and throughput improvements in customers' manufacturing processes. The ESG gripper utilizes an adhesive element inspired by gecko feet coupled with an electrostatic adhesive. When the electrostatic and gecko adhesives work together, a positive feedback cycle is created that, depending on surface type, can be greater than the sum of its parts–as the gecko adhesive engages, it brings the electrostatic adhesive closer to the surface, thus increasing its adhesive force; in turn, the electrostatic adhesive helps engage more of the fibrillar stalks of the gecko adhesive. Previous experimental results have shown that the combination adhesive technology can provide up to 5.1x greater adhesion that the electrostatic or gecko-like adhesives alone (Ruffatto, Shah, & Spenko, 2014).

The adhesive and grippers have been developed significantly over the last decade, since the first gecko-like adhesives were fabricated in 2003. Based on prior test results of the adhesives and grippers presented here, the ESG Gripper will offer the following benefits:
? Ability to affix to a wide variety of industrial surfaces including glass, metals, composites, and painted surfaces; anything from a very smooth to matte finish
? Extreme reusability (>30,000 ON-OFF cycles); can remain ON or OFF for > 1 year
? High force capability >30 kPa of adhesion on most surfaces; typical normal (adhesion) to shear force ratio is 1:3 (Parness, et al., 2013)
? Ultrafast engagement speed: <16ms (Wettels & Parness, 2014)
? Adhesive effect is temperature, radiation, and vacuum invariant (Day, Cutkosky, Greco, & McLaughlin, 2011).

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
NASA's interest in this technology stems from Subtopic: S4.02 Robotic Mobility, Manipulation and Sampling, which states: "Technologies for robotic mobility, manipulation, and sampling are needed to enable access to sites of interest and acquisition and handling of samples for in-situ analysis or return to Earth from planetary and solar system small bodies including Mars, Venus, comets, asteroids, and planetary moons…Manipulation technologies are needed to enable deployment of sampling tools and handling of samples."

Of specific interest is the ISS Remote Inspection System (IRIS) being developed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL, 2015). This system utilizes gecko-inspired adhesive feet to anchor to the micro-gravity environment of the ISS. The development of the ESG gripper would result in a significant performance increase in the adhesion of the "feet" in a low-cost, low-energy package.

Furthermore, NASA has identified the SPHERES program as a technology platform to utilize electrostatic, gecko-based, or combination thereof for gripping surfaces in such free-flyers.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
While there is a wide range of potential applications for adhesive gripping solutions in industrial automation, we have identified solar panels and glass manufacturing as the primary target markets due to the relatively versatile and expansive reach of these industries as well as the high level of interest expressed in our solution. Other potential markets include aerospace and automobile manufacturing, packaging and warehousing, hazardous materials handling, palletizing applications, and medical device manufacturing. We will also validate our work at the Amazon Picking Challenge in 2016 to attract the interest of Amazon for pick-and-place tasks:

We have explored and evaluated alternative target markets through 60+ first-hand discussions with 12 different customers/partners in the industrial automation value chain, as well as used secondary market research reports. We have interviewed representatives of robotics companies (Kawasaki, Fanuc, Denso), systems integrators (Comau, Delta Tau), gripper suppliers (Schunk, Robotiq, Barrett, Magswitch), other component suppliers (Cognex), and end-user manufacturers (DelWest). Our first two customers are Kawasaki Robotics USA (robot manufacturer/ integrator) and Magswitch (gripper manufacturer looking to expand its business beyond ferrous material handling).

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.)
Manufacturing Methods
Material Handing & Packaging
Processing Methods
Robotics (see also Control & Monitoring; Sensors)
Tools/EVA Tools

Form Generated on 04-23-15 15:37