CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA, United States
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA, United States
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Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.50M | Year: 2015

Barron Associates proposes to develop, validate, and demonstrate a cohesive set of probabilistic extensions for the model-based programming environment Simulink, developed by The MathWorks, Inc. These extensions will allow developers to model random variables, vectors, and matrices, as well as both discrete and continuous random processes as first-class objects within the Simulink language. Barron Associates will also develop extensions that developers can use to process those random quantities within standard machine learning, signal processing, and feedback control algorithms. These capabilities will be demonstrated in the context of autonomous sensor processing and UAS control. They will be commercialized in the form of a Simulink block library that brings probabilistic programming constructs to a large and commercially active model-based development community.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 999.88K | Year: 2015

Shipboard launch and recovery of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) is a challenging engineering problem requiring careful design and integration of hardware and software. The seaway-induced relative motion between the host vessel and ROV is often difficult to measure or model, which may render automatic control approaches ineffective and force reliance on manual operation by a very small number of highly trained operators. The success of a launch or recovery is thus highly dependent on the proficiency and alertness of the operator(s). Recovery of the RMMV from the LCS Independence variant is especially challenging and labor-intensive. The overall objective of the research is to provide more robust recovery technology to enhance safety and repeatability while reducing operator workload, saving time, and reducing the risk of equipment damage. The Phase I analyses resulted in the design of a promising RMMV recovery system that Barron Associates and its research partners believe will prove to be reliable, safe, and cost-effective. The Phase II effort will feature further analysis, design, and prototype construction and will culminate in in-water testing and demonstrations.


Grant
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services | Branch: National Institutes of Health | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.40M | Year: 2015

DESCRIPTION provided by applicant Recent advances in the size and performance of micro electromechanical systems MEMS based inertial instruments enable the development of a novel balance prosthesis to provide feedback via a substitute sensory channel regarding head orientation to patients with chronic balance dysfunction There is a need for balance prostheses to assist patients with chronic balance disorders as well as for devices to facilitate rehabilitaton of such disorders through training and physical therapy The noninvasive discreet turnkey BALCAP prosthesis proposed herein offers the potential to satisfy both requirements in a practicable and ergonomic fashion The BALCAP prosthesis uses six degrees of freedom DOF sensing to detect postural imbalance and actuate low amplitude vibrotactile cues directly to the head via hatband tactors that provide the wearer with feedback concerning head tilt in the pitch and roll planes and combinations thereof The BALCAP is designed to function correctly whether or not the participant is stationary or moving The Phase I effort demonstrated initial feasibility for both the assistive and rehabilitative benefits of the BALCAP prosthesis As part of the proposed research the utility of an improved BALCAP balance prosthesis will be further evaluated in an expanded study on individuals with chronic balance dysfunction spanning a range of etiologies Participants will undergo postural stability and gait assessments to evaluate two distinct hypotheses that performance scores improve significantly while wearing the BALCAP balance prosthesis andquot assistive benefitandquot and that performance scores improve after a period of BALCAP assisted therapy vs standard therapy even when the BALCAP is not being worn andquot rehabilitative benefitandquot A head mounted vibrotactile prosthesis such as the proposed BALCAP will provide immediate benefit to a large number of patients with chronic postural instability Additionally the device has the potential to open new areas of research such as determining the optimal training protocol to maximize residual retention of balance improvements The availability of a practical one piece noninvasive discreet and low cost balance prosthesis will enhance the quality of life for balance disordered patients and could lead to further advancements in this area PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE Products resulting from this research will provide significant benefit to patients with chronic postural instability improving their balance for both static and dynamic activities and allowing them to function more normally during activities of daily living ADLs The use of such a device as an aid both inside and outside of the home will yield both immediate assistive and longer term rehabilitative benefits The BALCAP prosthesis also has the potential to allow patients to \trainandquot while performing ADLs in contrast to structured exercises which will substantially reduce patient burden The BALCAP balance prosthesis could lead to further advancements in this area such as optimization of rehabilitation training to maximize residual retention of balance improvements


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Army | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.05M | Year: 2016

SBIR Topic A14-077 highlights a well-known issue that, to some degree, haunts all multi-cylinder internal combustion engines: imbalance in power output between cylinders. The underlying reasons range from geometrical differences that impact the airflow entering each cylinder to manufacturing differences between fuel injectors to an array of aging effects in fuel/air delivery systems and the cylinders/pistons themselves. Cylinder power output imbalance leads to damaging vibrations that can reduce engine component life. The ideal solution to this problem is an adaptive load balancing control system that uses near-real-time feedback to adjust the fuel delivery to individual cylinders in order to maintain balanced output over a wider range of operating conditions and over the lifetime of the engine. Barron Associates, Inc. and its research partners propose to develop an adaptive-inverse based cylinder output balancing software application. The research team has decades of experience developing adaptive control systems and arguably the worlds preeminent facilities for diesel engine research and testing. The Adaptive Inverse Control System will be a small footprint software application that will be straightforward to apply to new engines since it will work alongside factory control software and it will require little up-front configuration or tuning.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.96K | Year: 2016

UAS have the potential to offer great economic and operational advantages, but realizing this potential will require greater operational flexibility for UAS in the National Airspace. New technologies that enable beyond visual line of sight operations and that allow one operator to control multiple vehicles will expand the range of missions that can be accomplished and reduce operating costs. Automated upset recovery technology will reduce reliance on a human operator to mitigate hazards posed by Loss of Control (LOC) due to upset, leading to greater operational freedom. This technology is critical because LOC due to upset is one of the main causes of accidents in manned aircraft and is already emerging as an important causal factor in UAS accidents. LOC of an UAS operated at low altitude poses a hazard to people and property on the ground and is a barrier to relaxing operational restrictions. The Phase I research has developed a recovery system that replaces the perception, cognition, and decision making of a skilled operator with a two-stage automated recovery architecture and an innovative upset detection system. The decision about when to activate each stage of a recovery is difficult to make at design-time, so the upset detection system employs a novel statistical testing framework that combines at run-time numerous pieces of data including vehicle attitude, rotational rate, and controller performance to answer the question: Has an upset occurred? During Phase I, the recovery system was evaluated in a high quality simulation of a small fixed-wing vehicle. All hardware needed for flight testing was obtained, and systems integration work was performed. The proposed Phase II effort will focus on flight testing of the recovery system, including tests with multiple vehicle designs. The Phase II team includes a flight testing and commercialization partner with a track record of safe, legal, and effective UAS inspection operations in support of commercial customers.


Grant
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services | Branch: National Institutes of Health | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 224.96K | Year: 2016

PROJECT SUMMARY ABSTRACT Introduction The Glove Rehabilitation Application for Stroke Patients GRASP Fast Track SBIR program will promote recovery of hand function following stroke through an instrumented orthosis that enables functional practice of manual tasks in fun and engaging activities within a virtual environment The effort combines patented sensor glove technology developed under the NASA space suit program with a commercial hand orthosis and modern game engine technology GRASP will automatically assess a patientandapos s functional level and adapt the challenge to his her capabilities In each session the system will automatically produce valid metrics of hand function providing both patients and providers with immediate feedback on status and progress The low cost product will support independent home use as well as serve as part of a therapist guided in patient skilled nursing outpatient home health or teletherapy rehabilitation program Problem to be addressed GRASP addresses the critical challenges of improving outcomes in hand therapy through task directed practice and mental imagery that promote functional recovery enabling increased dosage intensity and duration through independent home use and teletherapy minimizing total cost of rehabilitation by reducing patient therapist travel and improving services in underserved areas Long Term Goal Improved outcomes and functional independence for patients with acquired brain injury Phase I Summary Phase I of the Fast Track will produce a prototype system that consists of a sensor package and software application that permits a commercial glove orthosis to be used for practice of virtual activities of daily living ADLs in a compelling virtual world A pilot study conducted by the University of Virginia UVa UVa HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital and Continuum Home Health will investigate the primary Phase I hypothesis which states that GRASP generated metrics correlate significantly with accepted measures of hand function Two Phase I case studies led by home health therapists will explore usability in the home environment and serve as pathfinders for Phase II efficacy trials Phase II Summary Phase II of the Fast Track will include development of a commercial system extension of the range of hand therapy activities and expansion of virtual environments to provide an engaging and motivating experience across weeks of treatment provider tools for prescribing and monitoring status progress and teletherapy interfaces A Phase II efficacy study will investigate improvement in standardized assessment scores and adherence for GRASP at home therapy vs standard care Randomized controlled trials will be led by UVa in partnership with HealthSouth and Continuum Home Health Commercial Opportunity Approximately of the individuals hospitalized due to stroke each year in the U S suffer from chronic deficits in hand and or arm function GRASP is poised to rapidly transition evidence based research to market by leveraging an existing brand with well defined distribution channels PROJECT NARRATIVE The proposed Glove Rehabilitation Application for Stroke Patients GRASP product consists of an instrumented glove orthosis and virtual world based software that will enable functional practice of activities of daily living through a standard personal computer The proposed Fast Track SBIR research addresses important public health concerns by improving stroke outcomes in hand function by enabling increased frequency and intensity of practice promoting functional recovery through combined physical practice and mental imagery providing reliable tracking mechanisms for patient activity functional status and progress increasing access to remote and underserved areas through teletherapy services and controlling cost by reducing patient therapist travel expenses


Grant
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services | Branch: National Institutes of Health | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 226.82K | Year: 2016

DESCRIPTION provided by applicant Hospitalization and prolonged immobilization often lead to the functional decline of vulnerable older persons Bed rest and inactivity have been shown to accelerate the functional changes that are part of normal aging This link between inactivity and adverse outcomes is increasingly appreciated by medical professionals and the mobilization of critically ill patients is an important aspect of patient care Monitoring and documenting patient activity levels in acute care settings is generally nonexistent as is assurance of adequate levels of mobilization Staff reports from nurses physical therapists physicians and aides where extant often lack agreement and documentation consistency This is particularly true in the context of competing priorities in busy hospital wards and varying levels of staff knowledge and motivation Manual patient documentation requirements already place a significant burden on health care professionals and limit the time spent with patients Patient self reports of activity levels have questionable validity and reliability especially in settings where delirium and decreased consciousness are common These factors all manifest a need for automated monitoring of patient activity levels to provide a safety net and to ensure that prophylactic and therapeutic mobilization of patients is performed Fortunately noninvasive and affordable technology is available that can obviate the need for health care professionals to manually document patient mobility levels freeing their time for patient care and education tasks The proposed wireless Patient Resident Mobility Tracker PREEMPT will provide an effective accurate and practicable method for automatically documenting patient mobility providing the desired activity posture information that is relevant in both hospital and senior car settings In particular the Phase I PREEMPT will be used to track and provide hourly summaries of the following sedentary time time spent lying or sitting upright time time spent standing or walking walking time step count step cadence steps per minute gait speed m s or mi hr and number of sit to stand transitions number of posture changes from sedentary to upright Collected data will be transmitted wirelessly to a touch screen tablet computer in near real time where the information will be readily accessible by health care professionals for use in patient management The PREEMPT will not interfere with other patient monitoring or therapeutic treatments including chest monitors arm and neck intravenous lines Foley catheters back braces etc Using swappable monitors and disposable recyclable cotton bands the PREEMPT will require minimal maintenance e g cleaning etc as a key objective of this technology is to decrease clinical staff burden The PREEMPT can also be used to track patient resident turning in bed to prevent decubitus ulcers and to provide an alternative to bed chair alarms for patients at risk for falls to alert nurses when a patient transitions from bed lying to sitting or from chair sitting to standing Further the PREEMPT can be used in research settings its advantages include its provisions for expanded posture coverage gait analysis near real time wireless data uploads and lower cost PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE There are currently acute care hospital beds in the United States and million nursing home beds Tracking and documenting the activity levels of critically ill patients will provide health care professionals and family members with valuable information that can be used to ensure patient mobilization and mitigate iatrogenic outcomes The proposed system will provide an effective practicable and affordable method for meeting the challenges of monitoring the mobility of hospital patients and residents of elder care facilities where excessive immobility is commonplace and documentation is generally lacking


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.93K | Year: 2015

Aircraft Loss-Of-Control (LOC) has been a longstanding contributor to fatal aviation accidents. Inappropriate pilot action for healthy aircraft, control failures, and vehicle impairment are frequent contributors to LOC accidents. These accidents could be reduced if an on-board system was available to immediately guide the pilot to a safe flight condition (including cases of control failure or vehicle impairment). Barron Associates previously developed and demonstrated (in pilot-in-the-loop simulations) a system for finding appropriate control input sequences for upset recovery, and for cueing pilots to follow these sequences. The proposed work adds several innovative capabilities to the existing architecture and includes flight test verification of the efficacy. One of the most significant current enhancements is the addition of adaptation to address off-nominal vehicle responses. Off-nominal vehicle responses can occur for a number of reasons including adverse onboard conditions (e.g., actuator failures, engine failures, or airframe damage) and external hazards, especially icing. The addition of adaptation capabilities enables the system to provide appropriate upset recovery guidance in cases of off-nominal vehicle response. The recovery guidance system is also specifically designed to be robust to variations in pilot dynamic behavior as well as to provide robustness to pilot deviations from the recommended recovery strategies.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.95K | Year: 2015

Both vehicle automation systems and human pilots rely heavily on sensor feedback to safely control aircraft. The loss of reliable information for even a single state feedback signal can initiate a chain of events that leads to an accident. On small aircraft, hardware redundancy is often impractical and the failure of a single physical sensor could be the triggering event that leads to an accident. On commercial transport aircraft sensor hardware redundancy is common, but the potential for common-mode failures means sensor failures are still an important consideration. In many cases, there is adequate information available to accurately estimate the true value of a parameter even if the sensor or sensors that directly measure the parameter have failed. In the best case, a human pilot can exploit the available information to successfully fly the vehicle after a sensor failure, but it is a high workload task. In many cases, lack of situational awareness and poor manual piloting skills create a situation in which the human pilot cannot safely handle the failure. Similarly, many automation systems are unable to safely cope with failures. The proposed research will build on the successful phase one proof-of-concept demonstration to develop a virtual sensor redundancy system that identifies and isolates faulted sensors, and fuses information from healthy sensors and vehicle dynamics models (including arbitrary nonlinear models) to estimate correct outputs for faulted sensors. The research will also develop the Virtual Sensor Toolkit, a software tool that supports the entire lifecycle of virtual sensor development and deployment from requirements development to testing and design updates. Barron Associates has partnered with commercial unmanned air system producers to advance the TRL of the technology through an aggressive Phase II development and testing effort that prepares the team for flight tests immediately following Phase II.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.96K | Year: 2016

During a piloted forced landing in which the aircraft can no longer maintain level flight and is therefore forced to make an emergency off-airport landing, the human pilot continuously reassesses and updates the plan to minimize on-ground and onboard injury and damage. In the case of an unmanned air vehicle, this level of intelligent risk minimization is unavailable. Moreover, low-weight and low-cost design objectives for unmanned aircraft have resulted in a lack of propulsion and control redundancy, as well as unreliable communication links and an associated increase in incidents due to engine failure, control failure, and lost link. Safe integration of Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS) will require an onboard capability for unmanned aircraft to accomplish the complex observation, understanding, and decision making that is required without assistance from a human operator. An advanced system capable of perception, cognition, and decision making is necessary to replace the need for a dedicated expert operator to ensure safety to persons, vehicles, and structures on the ground during UAS forced landings. Deployment of such a system would enable multiple UAS to be supervised by a single operator without compromising safety. The Self-Directed and Informed Forced Landing system emulates the continuous decision making process of a human pilot by assimilating available information and constantly reevaluating the plan. Robust, onboard guidance and control maximize the capability of the impaired aircraft while executing the current plan. The system considers current vehicle capability, wind estimates, landing site and route risk, as well as the uncertainty associated with these factors. Also, system design decisions have been, and will continue to be, weighed against current and near-future verification, validation, and certification requirements.

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