NASA STTR 2009 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 09-1 T1.02-9908
RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE: Information Technologies for Intelligent Planetary Robotics
PROPOSAL TITLE: Active Electromechanical Suspension System for Planetary Rovers

NAME: Balcones Technologies LLC NAME: University of Texas - Center for Electromechanics
STREET: 10532 Grand Oak Circle STREET: P.O. Box 7726
CITY: Austin CITY: Austin
STATE/ZIP: TX  78750 - 3851 STATE/ZIP: TX  78713 - 7726
PHONE: (512) 785-6728 PHONE: (512) 471-6424

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Joseph H. Beno
(512) 918-1496

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 3

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Balcones Technologies, LLC proposes to adapt actively controlled suspension technology developed by The University of Texas at Austin Center for Electromechanics (CEM) for high performance off-road vehicles to address STTR 2009-1 Subtopic T1.02, Information Technologies for Intelligent Planetary Robots. In particular, our team will develop a concept design for an actively controlled ElectroMechanical Suspension (EMS) system, including algorithms, software and hardware, that dramatically improves mobility for MER to MSL scale rovers. Our system exploits and adapts approximately $25M of highly successful active suspension R&D at CEM since 1993. It also exploits CEM's experience developing electromechanical systems for space applications gained during NASA funded programs to develop flywheel energy storage system technology for the International Space Station. Finally, it exploits our team's extensive experience migrating University technology to commercially viable manufacturable products. Relevant features of our anticipated solution include:
• Capable of vehicle speeds exceeding 3 m/s over lunar relevant terrain while maintaining hyper-stability for payloads of 100 kg or more
• Large suspension travel to enable obstacle negotiation
• Control system that can operate autonomously or slaved to higher level vehicle controller for specialized operations such as obstacle negotiation
• Four quadrant actuator control, capable of power regeneration for damping operations to improve system efficiency
• Passive springs to support rover static weight (no power consumption to support static weight)
• Highly efficient electromechanical suspension actuators for each wheel station, individually sized to support a high proportion of vehicle mass to enable obstacle negotiation
• Modular control system, based on our highly successful control system for terrestrial manned and unmanned vehicles
• Scalable technology for rover sizes representative of MER to MSL rovers

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The primary NASA application will be a full range of planetary rovers. However, the rotary actuators developed for the active suspension system will have widespread applications as general purpose, highly efficient, torque-dense actuators for planetary and space environments.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Our active EMS system and the general EMS technology being designed for the planetary rover will be useful in a variety of applications, either directly or through scaling of components. Our system will likely utilize many components similar to those being developed for military vehicles and will benefit from ongoing commercialization efforts in that area to reduce costs and increase life. In addition to the planetary application, our active EMS technology will be applicable for unmanned vehicles exposed to harsh environments. Some immediately apparent applications include other NASA rover applications, hazardous waste clean-up applications, unmanned military vehicles, and hazardous material handling operations. The lightweight, efficient EMS actuator developed for the planetary rover application will have numerous military and NASA space applications.

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.

Operations Concepts and Requirements
Testing Facilities

Form Generated on 09-18-09 10:14