NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:In-Space Assembly and Construction
PROPOSAL TITLE:Smart Skins and Tactile-Feedback Motion Control for Robotic Manipulators

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Intelligent Fiber Optic Systems Corporation
650 Vaqueros Ave.
Sunnyvale ,CA 94085 - 1260
(408) 328 - 8648

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Behzad   Moslehi
650 Vaqueros Ave.
Sunnyvale, CA  94085 -1260
(408) 328 - 8648

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Future high-dexterity robots promise enormous benefits to many areas of human endeavor performing operations difficult or hazardous for humans such as extra vehicular repairs. However, operating complicated tools and performing intricate repairs requires manipulators of great precision and excellent coordination. Human hands are very complex instruments with capacity for reception of and reaction to tactile stimuli for guidance in their functions. Integration of tactile sensing suites into robotic platforms (presently sensor impoverished) poses major technological challenges. The IFOS team, including well-known robotic experts from Stanford and JPL, proposes smart robotic skin including embedded Fiber Bragg Grating (FBG) sensors, custom-engineered composite skin materials, data interpretation and on-board decision-making. Phase I demonstrated feasibility. Phase II will deliver an FBG sensor-assisted manipulator prototype (hand and arm) based on high-resolution loading and artificial taction. Immune to electromagnetic interference, FBG sensors are easily integrated into robotic structures, highly sensitive and multiplexable allowing many sensors on a single fiber. This will enable robotic manipulators with high-fidelity force control for precise object grasping, positioning and safe operation with astronauts. They will facilitate maximum functionality, minimum weight and size of extra-vehicular robots to extend the life and reduce costs of new generations of space systems.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Space exploration, including future missions to Mars, will greatly benefit from robotic sensing technologies. High-dexterity robots will save humans operating in high risk areas, such as long space voyages, hazardous exploration, and research in human-unfriendly areas. In other applications, human-safe manipulators will collaborate with astronauts to reduce human fatigue and enhance human performance. Collaborating with a JPL robotics expert, this project will assist NASA in its goal to achieve safe and responsive robotic manipulators designed to have the dexterity of a space-suited astronaut capable of operating tools and performing extra-vehicular activities (EVAs), particularly repairs, on spacecraft.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Multiple commercial applications exist for the robots assisted by this project. Particular interests include robots for performing (a) tasks in environments dangerous or inaccessible for humans such as handling nuclear or bio-hazardous materials, (b) highly skilled operations for which human operators may be unavailable or may require assistance, e.g., robotic tele-surgery. Major Phase-I accomplishments included partnership establishment with medical robotics pioneer, Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (, and significant progress towards demonstration of commercial viability of the IFOS technology in medical robots. IFOS is developing a business plan and intends to approach selected investors after further R&D goal advancement in Phase II.

Form Printed on 08-01-05 13:52