NASA SBIR 2016 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 16-1 H6.01-7532
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Robotic Systems - Mobility, Manipulation, and Human-System Interaction
PROPOSAL TITLE: The Stinger: A Geotechnical Sensing Package for Robotic Scouting on a Small Planetary Rover

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Honeybee Robotics, Ltd.
Building 3, Suite 1005 63 Flushing Avenue Unit 150
Brooklyn, NY 11205 - 1070
(212) 966-0661

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr Kris Zacny
Building 3, Suite 1005 63 Flushing Avenue Unit 150
Brooklyn, NY 11205 - 1070
(510) 207-4555

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr Kris Zacny
Building 3, Suite 1005 63 Flushing Avenue Unit 150
Brooklyn, NY 11205 - 1070
(510) 207-4555

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 4

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Robotic Systems - Mobility, Manipulation, 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)
Flawless operation of planetary mobility systems, excavation, mining and ISRU operations, regolith transport and many others depend on knowledge of geotechnical properties of the soil. Knowing, for example, the soil strength and its density and in turn fundamental soil parameters such as friction angle and apparent or true cohesion, will guide the design of the wheels and excavation systems and help to determine anticipated excavation energies, time, and forces.

Nearly all planetary rovers to-date have experienced some type of problem due to the unknown nature of planetary regolith. The MER Spirit mission ended when the rover bogged down. The MER Opportunity rover barely recovered from a sand trap. MSL Curiosity spent over a month trying to find a safer route around a sand dune. Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle got stuck and had to be lifted and placed on firmer ground while Lunokhod managed to recover from a 'near' stuck position.

Honey Robotics, therefore, proposes to design and test a prototype geotechnical tool called the Stinger, that combines soil bearing strength measurements with shear test measurements. The Stinger instrument consists of a percussive cone shear-vane penetrometer capable of measuring near-surface and subsurface soil properties to a depth of 50 cm or greater. The cone deployment is percussive, because this approach reduces penetration forces, an important consideration when a tool is deployed in a low gravity environment from a small vehicle. During percussive cone deployment, the soil bearing strength is measured. The shear vane is initially housed inside a cone and it is pushed out whenever shear tests are required. When the shear vane is out, the cone-vane is rotated to measure shear strength of the soil. This measurement can be performed at any depth.

Based on results of the breadboard testing, a preliminary design for a TRL6 Stinger GeoTool will also be realized.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The Geotechnical Tool is imperative to gather essential engineering data to determine bearing strength, density, and trafficability of regolith. This is most useful to establish the stability of massive structures, set up resource mining operations, and survey exploration sites and routes. In addition, soil physical properties are used to help interpret surface geologic processes and to constrain the origins and formation processes of the soil. The Stinger is, therefore, not only a necessary surveying and exploratory tool, but a valuable scientific instrument as well, which would prove to be most useful for lunar missions and for ongoing exploration on Mars. In addition to penetrometer applications, the percussive mechanism could be used for rapid excavation (via an impact-actuated digging tool), setting anchors into the ground, and for rotary-percussive drilling systems. The system will be designed with a goal of minimizing system mass so that it might be mounted on small platforms like NASA's Centaur2 and also be human-deployable. Honeybee Robotics is a NASA-approved flight vendor and is therefore in the unique position to take a mechanism, such as that proposed, from low TRL to TRL 9, a successfully deployed flight unit. Honeybee has designed and built three critical flight components for Mars flight missions: Rock Abrasion Tool for 2003 MER, Robotic Arm Scoop for 2007 Phoenix Mars Mission, Sample Manipulation System and Dust Removal Tool for 2011 Mars Surface Laboratory.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
There is a general need for systems that provide rapid and more reliable soil characterization and the Geo Tool could provide this. Some of the applications include oilsands bearing strength assessment (this is required by law in the state of Alberta), environmental monitoring of industrial sites, agricultural surveys, and soil remediation. The military has expressed the nead for a rapid near-surface soil characterization tool, something that can be carried and deployed by a single soldier, with the data acquired and processed by someone with no or little training. Currently we are in the process of negotiating a contract that could start as soon as April of 2016.

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.)
Hardware-in-the-Loop Testing
Models & Simulations (see also Testing & Evaluation)
Pressure & Vacuum Systems
Robotics (see also Control & Monitoring; Sensors)
Simulation & Modeling
Tools/EVA Tools

Form Generated on 04-26-16 15:14