Draper Laboratory

Cambridge, MA, United States

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Cambridge, MA, United States
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News Article | May 1, 2017
Site: www.scientificcomputing.com

A team of researchers created a novel wireless power source that could potentially produce the next-generation of ingestible health devices. Engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital made a battery cell that can safely power machines that could either monitor conditions in the gastrointestinal tract or releases small reservoirs of drugs over a certain period of time. The battery works through a process called midfield transmission, which is a technique that enables power transfer across longer distances with the help of an antenna. The team sought to test this power source’s efficacy on a group of pigs by giving the animals one of the medical prototypes they have made. “Right now we have no way of measuring things like core body temperature or concentration of micronutrients over an extended period of time, and with these devices you could start to do that kind of thing,” said a former MIT graduate student and first author of this study Abubakar Abid, said in a statement. An external antenna was able to safely deliver 100 to 200 microwatts of power from distances ranging between 2 to 10 centimeters to an internal antenna built into the device moving through the digestive tract. No electrodes were needed. “We’re able to efficiently send power from the transmitter antennas outside the body to antennas inside the body, and do it in a way that minimizes the radiation being absorbed by the tissue itself,” said Abid. Ultimately, this technique produces enough energy to power sensors for monitoring heart rates and temperatures. “This work, combined with exciting advancements in subthreshold electronics, low-power systems-on-a-chip, and novel packaging miniaturization, can enable many sensing, monitoring, and even stimulation or actuation applications,” said co-author and Draper Laboratory researcher Brian Smith, in the announcement. However, the team acknowledged they need to continue examining this system’s capabilities before transitioning into human trials. These findings were described in the journal Scientific Reports.


News Article | May 1, 2017
Site: www.scientificcomputing.com

A team of researchers created a novel wireless power source that could potentially produce the next-generation of ingestible health devices. Engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital made a battery cell that can safely power machines that could either monitor conditions in the gastrointestinal tract or releases small reservoirs of drugs over a certain period of time. The battery works through a process called midfield transmission, which is a technique that enables power transfer across longer distances with the help of an antenna. The team sought to test this power source’s efficacy on a group of pigs by giving the animals one of the medical prototypes they have made. “Right now we have no way of measuring things like core body temperature or concentration of micronutrients over an extended period of time, and with these devices you could start to do that kind of thing,” said a former MIT graduate student and first author of this study Abubakar Abid, said in a statement. An external antenna was able to safely deliver 100 to 200 microwatts of power from distances ranging between 2 to 10 centimeters to an internal antenna built into the device moving through the digestive tract. No electrodes were needed. “We’re able to efficiently send power from the transmitter antennas outside the body to antennas inside the body, and do it in a way that minimizes the radiation being absorbed by the tissue itself,” said Abid. Ultimately, this technique produces enough energy to power sensors for monitoring heart rates and temperatures. “This work, combined with exciting advancements in subthreshold electronics, low-power systems-on-a-chip, and novel packaging miniaturization, can enable many sensing, monitoring, and even stimulation or actuation applications,” said co-author and Draper Laboratory researcher Brian Smith, in the announcement. However, the team acknowledged they need to continue examining this system’s capabilities before transitioning into human trials. These findings were described in the journal Scientific Reports.


News Article | January 19, 2016
Site: news.mit.edu

MIT has become an increasingly international institution, attracting top technical talent from all over the planet. But Michael Watts, who recently earned tenure in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, is as local as they come. Watts grew up in Hingham, Massachusetts, about 20 miles from Cambridge, working summers and vacations for his parents’ flooring and rug company, which his grandfather had founded. As a teen, he once had a job installing flooring at Draper Laboratory, which spun out from the lab of MIT aeronautical engineering professor Charles Stark Draper and has offices a few blocks away from the Kendall/MIT subway station. At Hingham High School, Watts fell under the spell of a physics teacher named Charles Dirk. A former navy officer, Dirk “was a very excitable character,” Watts says. “If somebody didn’t get it, he would get red in the face.” But Watts responded well to Dirk’s teaching style, taking two classes with him and earning perfect scores on both the College Board’s physics achievement test and the advanced-placement physics exam. “Dirk was a teacher who definitely made a difference on many young minds, a unique character and gifted teacher,” Watts says. For college, Watts says, “I wanted to stay local,” so he headed to Tufts University, in the Boston suburb of Medford, about a mile from the Cambridge border. He’d planned to study mechanical engineering, but Tufts had just opened a new center for the study of optoelectronics, or the integration of optical and electronic signal processing. A family friend who worked at Polaroid — which had its own optoelectronic research program — urged Watts to check it out. Almost immediately, Watts was hooked. Optics, and particularly optoelectronics, would remain the theme of his studies and future research. After graduating from Tufts in 1996, Watts got a job at Draper Lab, where he’d been laying floors just a few years earlier. He wasn’t the only member of the Draper technical staff without a graduate degree, but he was certainly in the minority. Nonetheless, he distinguished himself enough to attract the attention of Hermann Haus, an MIT Institute Professor and optics pioneer who was collaborating with some of the lab’s researchers. When, after three years at Draper, Watts applied to MIT to do a PhD in Haus’ group, Haus wrote one of his letters of recommendation. Haus was working on what at the time was the cutting-edge field of silicon photonics. Many researchers were investigating other, more exotic semiconductors for use in optoelectronics. But silicon is, of course, the fundamental component of all modern computing devices. And there were reasons to believe that the combination of silicon and silicon dioxide, which was already used in commercial manufacturing processes, could yield very small optical components. Haus’ thinking was that if it should prove possible to build optical components from silicon, the component density and material compatibility would make it much easier and more affordable to integrate them with electronics. One problem with silicon optical components was that they tended to work only with strongly polarized light — light whose waves are all oriented in the same direction. For both his master’s and his doctoral theses, Watts developed a photonic circuit that splits the polarization states of incoming light into two perpendicular components, then rotates one of them to align it with the other. Making silicon photonics “polarization independent” was essential to integrating them with existing optical-communication systems. One morning when he was a graduate student, Watts was walking down the street near his Boston apartment when he brushed shoulders with a young woman who looked a little like someone he’d last seen 10 years earlier — the daughter of some friends of his parents who also owned a flooring business, in New Hampshire. He turned and called after her: “Amy?” When she stutter-stepped, he called her name again, and they stopped to catch up. It turned out that she, too, was in a doctoral program, at the New England College of Optometry. The same spring that Watts graduated from MIT, he and Amy were married. As graduation approached, Watts applied for two jobs: one at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory and one at Sandia National Laboratories. “My research was going well,” Watts says, “so I decided to push that component first and figured if I decided later I wanted to teach I could do so after I had established myself in my field. I think it’s asking a lot to have faculty come in and have to build up a world-class research portfolio in a limited period of time while also learning how to teach, which by itself is a full-time job.” Lincoln Lab was interested but had no openings in its silicon-photonics group. Sandia had a modern silicon fabrication facility, but no silicon-photonics group; it offered Watts the chance to build one. So he and Amy headed for New Mexico. At Sandia, Watts managed to secure $200,000 in funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a meager sum for research that requires as much high-tech prototyping as silicon photonics does. Nonetheless, Watts’ team was able to build most of the core components of a silicon-photonic platform, including a modulator that set a record for low power consumption and a high-speed switch, which together won an R&D100 award from R&D magazine. Five years after arriving at Sandia, Watts was running a $2-million-a-year research program. But by this point, he and Amy had two small children, and traveling from New Mexico to visit two sets of grandparents in the Northeast was difficult and expensive. So again, Watts applied for two jobs, one at the State University of New York at Albany, which has access to the best semiconductor-manufacturing facilities in academia, and one at MIT. MIT was the one to give him an offer, and he accepted. Back on campus, “I got a key to a small office, and I’m just looking at my four cinder-block walls, thinking, ‘What the hell do I do now?’” Watts says. “I realized I had completely hit the reset button.” But the skills he’d developed at Sandia served him well. Within a year, he’d landed a $12 million grant from DARPA to develop integrated silicon optics and electronics. That meant, however, trying to get a new manufacturing facility — SUNY Albany’s, as it happened — up to speed on the custom 250-step fabrication process required to produce his silicon-photonic designs. “And the tenure clock was ticking,” Watts says. “Fortunately, I found a great partner, Dr. Coolbaugh, at SUNY, to help turn my ideas into reality.” It took a few years to get going, but then the breakthroughs began coming in short order: the largest — by a few orders of magnitude — on-chip silicon phased array, which can steer light in different directions; another record-setting low-power modulator, which achieves state-of-the-art data rates; an on-chip erbium laser that can be built using standard silicon manufacturing techniques; and new methods for integrating optics and electronics on a single chip. Watts’ work drew notice. Last year, after being granted tenure, he was named CTO of a consortium including MIT and SUNY Albany that secured a $110 million federal grant to support photonics manufacturing, part of the Obama administration’s manufacturing initiative. In the meantime, Watts and his family landed back in Hingham, where his parents can help out with babysitting. His nine-year-old daughter, Samantha, is “incredibly good at art and design,” Watts says. “So she’s a little more artsy than I am.” At age six, his son William, on the other hand, “is very squarely engineer-minded,” Watts says. “Whenever we get on a boat or a plane, it’s, ‘How much horsepower does it have? How many gallons of fuel does it hold?’ He’s trying to measure it out.”


News Article | October 23, 2015
Site: news.mit.edu

Replicating how cancer and other cells interact in the body is somewhat difficult in the lab. Biologists generally culture one cell type in plastic plates, which doesn’t represent the dynamic cell interactions within living organisms. Now MIT spinout AIM Biotech has developed a microfluidics device — based on years of research — that lets researchers co-culture multiple cell types in a 3-D hydrogel environment that mimics natural tissue. Among other things, the device can help researchers better study biological processes, such as cancer metastasis, and more accurately capture how cancer cells react to chemotherapy agents, says AIM Biotech co-founder Roger Kamm, the Cecil H. Green Distinguished Professor in MIT’s departments of mechanical engineering and biological engineering. “If you want realistic models of these processes, you have to go to a 3-D matrix, with multiple cell types … to see cell-to-cell contact and let cells signal to each other,” Kamm says. “None of those processes can be reproduced realistically in the current cell-culture methods.” Designed originally for Kamm’s lab, the new commercial device is a plastic chip with three chambers: a middle chamber for hydrogel and any cell type, such as cancer cells or endothelial cells (which line blood vessels), and two side channels for culturing additional cell types. The hydrogel chamber has openings along each side, so cells can interact with each other, as they would in the body. Cancer drugs or other therapeutics can then be added to better monitor how cells respond in a patient. Lab-fabricated devices have been used for various applications described in more than 40 research publications to date, including studies of cancer and stem cell research, neuroscience, and the circulatory system. This month, AIM Biotech will begin deploying the commercial devices to 47 research groups in 13 countries for user feedback. Other systems for 3-D cell culturing involve filling deep dishes with hydrogels. Because of the distance these dishes must be kept from the microscope, Kamm says, it’s difficult to capture high-resolution images. AIM Biotech’s devices, on the other hand, he says, can be put directly under the microscope like a traditional plate, which is beneficial for imaging. “Everything here happens within about 200 microns of the cover slip, so you can get really good high-resolution, real-time images and movies,” Kamm says. In 2005 at MIT, Kamm’s lab created a prototype of the microfluidics device to better study angiogenesis — the forming of new blood vessels. But there was a major issue: The hydrogel in the middle chamber would spread into the side channels before solidifying, which disturbed the cell cultures. As a solution, the researchers lined the hydrogel chamber with minute posts. When injected, the hydrogel seeps out to the posts, but surface tension keeps it from leaking into the side channels, while still allowing the cells to enter. “That’s the key,” Kamm says. “When you put liquid into a small space, surface tension drives where it goes, so we decided to use surface tension to our advantage.” Soon, Kamm was using the device in his lab: In a 2011 study, researchers in his group discovered that breast cancer cells can break free from tumors and travel against flows normally present inside the tissue; in a 2012 study, they found that macrophages — a type of white blood cells — were key in helping tumor cells break through blood vessels. And in a 2013 study, Kamm was able to capture high-resolution videos of how the cells escape through minute holes in endothelial walls and travel through the body. “People try to do this in vivo, but you can’t possibly get the kind of resolution you can within a microfluidic system,” Kamm says. Researchers worldwide began taking notice of the device, which led to several collaborations with researchers locally and in Singapore: The device’s development had been funded, in part, by the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART). “It became apparent that, if there’s this much interest in these systems and that much need for them, we should set up a company to develop the technology and market it,” Kamm says. After securing seed funding from Draper Laboratory, the National Institutes of Health, and SMART, Kamm brought the idea for the device to Innovation Teams (i-Teams), where MIT students from across disciplines flesh out strategies for turning lab technologies into commercial products. Among other things, this experience helped Kamm home in on the product’s target market. “At the time, [I was] trying to decide whether to go for researchers, go directly to pharmaceutical industry, or something that is useful in the clinic,” Kamm says. “One of the i-Teams’ recommendations was to develop systems for researchers. It reinforced what we were heading toward, but it was nice to get that confirmation.” AIM Biotech launched in Singapore in 2012, under current CEO Kuan Chee Mun, who Kamm met through SMART. A major application for the device, Kamm says, is studying cancer metastasis — as demonstrated with his own work — to develop better treatments. In the body, cells break loose from a tumor and migrate through tissue into the blood system, where they get stuck in the small blood vessels of a distant organ or adhere to vessel walls. Then they can escape from inside the vessel to form another tumor. AIM Biotech’s microfluidics device produces a similar microenvironment: When endothelial cells are seeded into the side channels or the central gel region, they form a 3-D network of vessels in the hydrogel. Tumor cells can be introduced, flowing naturally or getting stuck in the vessels. Kamm says this environment could be useful in testing cancer drugs, as well as anti-angiogenesis compounds that prevent the development of blood vessels, effectively killing tumors by cutting off their blood supply. While many such treatments have shown limited success, “there’s a lot of interest in screening for new ones,” Kamm says. In the future, Kamm adds, AIM Biotech may offer to more accurately screen cancer drugs for pharmaceutical companies. In fact, he says, AIM Biotech recently discovered that its devices revealed discrepancies in some clinically tested therapeutics. In a study published in Integrative Biology, MIT researchers used Kamm's microfluidics technology to screen several drugs that aim to prevent tumors from breaking up and dispersing throughout the body. Results indicated that the level of drugs needed was often two orders of magnitude higher than predictions based on traditional assays. “So there’s no way to effectively predict, from the 2-D assays, what the efficacy of a particular drug was,” Kamm says. If pharmaceutical companies were to winnow potential drugs from, say, 1,000 to 100 for testing, Kamm says, “We could test those drugs out in a more realistic setting.”


Streetman B.,Draper Laboratory | Peck M.A.,Cornell University
Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets | Year: 2010

An orbital control framework is developed for the Lorentz augmented orbit.Aspacecraft carrying an electrostatic charge moves through the geomagnetic field. The resulting Lorentz force is used in the general control framework to evolve the spacecraft's orbit. The controller operates with a high degree and order spherical-harmonic magnetic field model by partitioning the space of latitude in a meaningful way. The partitioning reduces the complexity of the problem to a manageable level. Asuccessful maneuver developed within this bang-off control framework results in a combined orbital plane change and orbit raising. The cost of this maneuver is in electrical power. Reductions in the power usage, at the expense of longer maneuver times, are obtained by using information about local plasma density. © Copyright 2010 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc.


News Article | August 22, 2016
Site: news.mit.edu

If you leave a cube of Jell-O on the kitchen counter, eventually its water will evaporate, leaving behind a shrunken, hardened mass — hardly an appetizing confection. The same is true for hydrogels. Made mostly of water, these gelatin-like polymer materials are stretchy and absorbent until they inevitably dry out. Now engineers at MIT have found a way to prevent hydrogels from dehydrating, with a technique that could lead to longer-lasting contact lenses, stretchy microfluidic devices, flexible bioelectronics, and even artificial skin. The engineers, led by Xuanhe Zhao, the Robert N. Noyce Career Development Associate Professor in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, devised a method to robustly bind hydrogels to elastomers — elastic polymers such as rubber and silicone that are stretchy like hydrogels yet impervious to water. They found that coating hydrogels with a thin elastomer layer provided a water-trapping barrier that kept the hydrogel moist, flexible, and robust. The results are published today in the journal Nature Communications. Zhao says the group took inspiration for its design from human skin, which is composed of an outer epidermis layer bonded to an underlying dermis layer. The epidermis acts as a shield, protecting the dermis and its network of nerves and capillaries, as well as the rest of the body’s muscles and organs, from drying out. The team’s hydrogel-elastomer hybrid is similar in design to, and in fact multiple times tougher than, the bond between the epidermis and dermis. The team developed a physical model to quantitatively guide the design of various hydrogel-elastomer bonds. In addition, the researchers are exploring various applications for the hybrid material, including artificial skin. In the same paper, they report inventing a technique to pattern tiny channels into the hybrid material, similar to blood vessels. They have also embedded complex ionic circuits in the material to mimic nerve networks. “We hope this work will pave the way to synthetic skin, or even robots with very soft, flexible skin with biological functions,” Zhao says. The paper’s lead author is MIT graduate student Hyunwoo Yuk. Co-authors include MIT graduate students German Alberto Parada and Xinyue Liu and former Zhao group postdoc Teng Zhang, now an assistant professor at Syracuse University. Getting under the skin In December 2015, Zhao’s team reported that they had developed a technique to achieve extremely robust bonding of hydrogels to solid surfaces such as metal, ceramic, and glass. The researchers used the technique to embed electronic sensors within hydrogels to create a “smart” bandage. They found, however, that the hydrogel would eventually dry out, losing its flexibility. Others have tried to treat hydrogels with salts to prevent dehydration, which Zhao says is effective, but this method can make a hydrogel incompatible with biological tissues. Instead, the researchers, inspired by skin, reasoned that coating hydrogels with a material that was similarly stretchy but also water-resistant would be a better strategy for preventing dehydration. They soon landed on elastomers as the ideal coating, though the rubbery material came with one major challenge: It was inherently resistant to bonding with hydrogels. “Most elastomers are hydrophobic, meaning they do not like water,” Yuk says. “But hydrogels are a modified version of water. So these materials don’t like each other much and usually can’t form good adhesion.” The team tried to bond the materials together using the technique they developed for solid surfaces, but with elastomers, Yuk says, the hydrogel bonding was “horribly weak.” After searching through the literature on chemical bonding agents, the researchers found a candidate compound that might bring hydrogels and elastomers together: benzophenone, which is activated via ultraviolet (UV) light. After dipping a thin sheet of elastomer into a solution of benzophenone, the researchers wrapped the treated elastomer around a sheet of hydrogel and exposed the hybrid to UV light. They found that after 48 hours in a dry laboratory environment, the weight of the hybrid material did not change, indicating that the hydrogel retained most of its moisture. They also measured the force required to peel the two materials apart, and found that to separate them required 1,000 joules per square meters — much higher than the force needed to peel the skin’s epidermis from the dermis. “This is tougher even than skin,” Zhao says. “We can also stretch the material to seven times its original length, and the bond still holds.” Taking the comparison with skin a step further, the team devised a method to etch tiny channels within the hydrogel-elastomer hybrid to simulate a simple network of blood vessels. They first cured a common elastomer onto a silicon wafer mold with a simple three-channel pattern, etching the pattern onto the elastomer using soft lithography. They then dipped the patterned elastomer in benzophenone, laid a sheet of hydrogel over the elastomer, and exposed both layers to ultraviolet light. In experiments, the researchers were able to flow red, blue, and green food coloring through each channel in the hybrid material. Yuk says in the future, the hybrid-elastomer material may be used as a stretchy microfluidic bandage, to deliver drugs directly through the skin. “We showed that we can use this as a stretchable microfluidic circuit,” Yuk says. “In the human body, things are moving, bending, and deforming. Here, we can perhaps do microfluidics and see how [the device] behaves in a moving part of the body.” The researchers also explored the hybrid material’s potential as a complex ionic circuit. A neural network is such a circuit; nerves in the skin send ions back and forth to signal sensations such as heat and pain. Zhao says hydrogels, being mostly composed of water, are natural conductors through which ions can flow. The addition of an elastomer layer, he says, acts as an insulator, preventing ions from escaping — an essential combination for any circuit. To make it conductive to ions, the researchers submerged the hybrid material in a concentrated solution of sodium chloride, then connected the material to an LED light. By placing electrodes at either end of the material, they were able to generate an ionic current that switched on the light. “We show very beautiful circuits not made of metal, but of hydrogels, simulating the function of neurons,” Yuk says. “We can stretch them, and they still maintain connectivity and function.” Syun-Hyun Yun, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, says that hydrogels and elastomers have distinct physical and chemical properties that, when combined, may lead to new applications. “It is a thought-provoking work,” says Yun, who was not involved in the research. “Among many [applications], I can imagine smart artificial skins that are implanted and provide a window to interact with the body for monitoring health, sensing pathogens, and delivering drugs.” Next, the group hopes to further test the hybrid material’s potential in a number of applications, including wearable electronics and on-demand drug-delivering bandages, as well as nondrying, circuit-embedded contact lenses. “Ultimately, we’re trying to expand the argument of using hydrogels as an advanced engineering toolset,” Zhao says. This research was funded, in part, by the Office of Naval Research, Draper Laboratory, MIT Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, and National Science Foundation.


Chipalkatty R.,Draper Laboratory | Droge G.,Georgia Institute of Technology | Egerstedt M.B.,Georgia Institute of Technology
IEEE Transactions on Robotics | Year: 2013

This paper presents a new method for injecting human inputs into mixed-initiative interactions between humans and robots. The method is based on a model-predictive control (MPC) formulation, which inevitably involves predicting the system (robot dynamics as well as human input) into the future. These predictions are complicated by the fact that the human is interacting with the robot, causing the prediction method itself to have an effect on future human inputs. We investigate and develop different prediction schemes, including fixed and variable horizon MPCs and human input estimators of different orders. Through a search-and-rescue-inspired human operator study, we arrive at the conclusion that the simplest prediction methods outperform the more complex ones, i.e., in this particular case, less is indeed more. © 2004-2012 IEEE.


News Article | June 10, 2014
Site: www.techtimes.com

DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has developed new paddles that allow users to climb vertical walls like Spider-man. For the first time in history, a fully-grown person climbed a glass wall more than two stories in the air. The Z-man program aimed at designing a new tool for soldiers to use when climbing walls. Traditionally, fighters in wartime have had to rely on ladders and ropes to overcome vertical surfaces. These are both noisy and bulky, making it difficult for warriors to climb quietly when needed. "The gecko is one of the champion climbers in the Animal Kingdom, so it was natural for DARPA to look to it for inspiration in overcoming some of the maneuver challenges that U.S. forces face in urban environments," Goodman said. This challenge was one many species had already faced in the wild. Geckos, able to climb vertical surfaces, were an inspiration to the inventors. "[N]ature had long since evolved the means to efficiently achieve it. The challenge to our performer team was to understand the biology and physics in play when geckos climb and then reverse-engineer those dynamics into an artificial system for use by humans," Matt Goodman, DARPA program manager for the Z-Man program, told the press. The lizard uses microscopic tendrils, called setae, that end with flat spatulae. This dual structure provides the creature with an extremely large surface area coming into contact with whatever it touches. This allows van der Waals forces, a magnetic attraction between atoms, to hold the lizard in place. This same technique is used for the paddles. Draper Laboratory, headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts assisted the military technology developers in creating the devices. The business developed the unique microstructure material needed to make the design work. The demonstration climb involved a climber weighing 218 pounds, in addition to a 50-pound load in one trial. He ascended and descended the vertical glass surface, using nothing but a pair of the paddles. Warfare constantly advances in technology and strategies, but ropes and ladders - still needed to scale walls - have not significantly changed in thousands of years. "'Geckskin' is one output of the Z-Man program. It is a synthetically-fabricated reversible adhesive inspired by the gecko's ability to climb surfaces of various materials and roughness, including smooth surfaces like glass," DARPA officials wrote on the Z-man Web site. Advances in this bio-inpspired technology could have benefits beyond the battlefield. Materials similar to the the structure in the pad could be used as temporary adhesives for bandages, industrial and commercial products.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 69.99K | Year: 2010

The proposed Autonmous Reactive Ferrrying Drifter (ARF-D) provides wide measured swath, autonomously maintains a buffer distance from close-shore snags, and by utilizing river flow provides a very low power approach to obtaining cross-river surveying, providing greater coverage with minimal power penalty. By randomizing the cross-river transit paths multiple ARF-D units will naturally overcome the same-path focus of passive drifters gaining greater coverage without the need for sophisticated and power intensive intra-drifter communication or formation keeping.


News Article | March 15, 2016
Site: boingboing.net

Tiny satellite that spews out tinier sensors onto moon's surface Initial indications suggest that (ChipSats') small size and lack of moving parts may make them highly capable of surviving impact on a planetary surface without any dedicated protection system, (Draper researcher Brett) Streetman said. The low cost of ChipSats would enable scientists to use a large batch, reducing the consequences of losing some upon impact, he said. Additionally, this capability could provide a quick-response solution for researchers who study events on Earth that are difficult to predict, and thus difficult to reach quickly with personnel and in-situ sensors, such as volcanic eruptions and algae blooms, said John West, who leads advanced concepts and technology development in Draper’s space systems group. In the late 2020s, NASA plans to send a probe to Jupiter's moon Europa to determine if there's oceanic life beneath its crust. Before then, Draper Laboratory hopes that its novel sensor system of CubeSats, satellites smaller than a shoebox, and postage-stamp size sensors, called ChipSats, could be the basis of a complementary $10 million mission to inform the big 2020 effort, expected to cost $2 billion. Draper's idea is that CubeSats could be delivered to Europa's orbit to identify areas on the moon with the thinnest ice. As data comes in about what's below, the CubeSats would then dump hundreds of the tiny ChipSats onto the moon's surface. Those ChipSats would then identify the best location for the later NASA probe to penetrate the surface. (Insert requisite "2010: Odyssey Two" reference here.) From Draper Laboratory , developers of the system:

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