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SBIR Phase I:Generalized Approach to Robotic Thermal Management

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2111639
Agency Tracking Number: 2111639
Amount: $255,941.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: SP
Solicitation Number: NSF 20-527
Solicitation Year: 2020
Award Year: 2022
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2022-01-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2023-04-30
Small Business Information
RESTON, VA 20190
United States
DUNS: 117517000
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: Yes
Principal Investigator
 Victor Aguero
 (408) 355-5778
Business Contact
 Victor Aguero
Phone: (408) 355-5778
Research Institution

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will be enabling the use of commercial robotic systems from terrestrial industries in the space domain.This technology will allow the space industry to adopt lower cost, commercial systems for space robotic operation, without the need for expensive customization or unique build approaches.This innovation allows the developing space economy to quickly leverage new capabilities developed terrestrially, rapidly increasing the cadence of on-orbit inspection, assembly, and operational activities.The ability to maintain a persistent and distributed presence and conduct more regular, active operations remotely in space will increase the understanding of the space environment, interactions between space and terrestrial systems (e.g. climate/weather), and will provide new understanding of vacuum and plasma interactions with materials and components in space.These activities will serve to increase the rate of commercialization of space and the build-up of the fundamental infrastructure elements of a space economy, including communications, resource management, transport, and trade or exchange of goods and services. The resulting commercial impact may accentuate and accelerate an ongoing trend in the transition from a government-dominated space domain to a true commercial space economy.This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will study new approaches to managing thermal challenges of operating in a vacuum environment with the technical goal of achieving a wider thermal operating range for the actuators and computing elements of commercial robotic systems.Common failure modes of commercially available robots, specifically issues affecting repeatability of positional accuracy on robotic arm position and controller board component failure, will be analyzed over both hot and cold vacuum operating ranges expected in typical low Earth orbit scenarios.This experimental data, combined with thermal modeling, will be used to identify the highest value component or material property modifications and operational constraints that can be implemented to minimally impact commercial production.Achieving a wider operating range will result in commercial robotic subsystems being able to play a greater role in various orbital regimes and under varying lighting conditions without costly customization and operational impacts (such as allowing operations only in specific sunlight conditions).The results will also provide feedback to commercial robotic system developers that can be used to increase the robustness and efficiency of terrestrial robots in a broader range of terrestrial environments, providing further improvement in space as systems evolve.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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