Monrovia, CA, United States
Monrovia, CA, United States

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Grant
Agency: Department of Agriculture | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 600.00K | Year: 2016

Project SummaryWe propose to continue the research and development of a four-wheeled autonomous agricultural robot that, while light-weight and affordable, can assist in harvesting by transporting produce from a human picker in the field to a collection station at the edge of the field thus increasing picker productivity by 50%.Our primary focus for this effort will be on the harvesting of strawberries. In California alone, more than 2 billion pounds of strawberries are harvested each year with a value of over $2 billion. The commodity nature of this crop applies pressure on the farmers to keep prices low, yet at the same time labor shortages are growing because picker jobs are unattractive to most Americans. Each picker harvests about $65,000 worth of strawberries per year, so increasing each picker's productivity by 50% allows them to pick an additional $32,000 worth of strawberries per year. Therefore farmers are highly motivated to adopt technology to boost picker efficiency.In the field, pickers do a very complex picking, sorting, and packing task that will take years to automate. However, in the traditional manual harvest scenario, pickers spend about 1/3 of their time transporting a full box of berries along their furrow to the nearest roadway and from there to a nearby station for inspection, payment registration, and stacking on pallets. Offloading this 1/3 non-picking transport time increases the picker's picking time by 50%.We have been working with a nearby strawberry farm, Terry Farms, to define an autonomous robot that can relieve the picker from the transport task to allow them to focus full time on the picking, sorting, and packing task which is their highest value add. The robot must be safe, affordable, and require a minimum of focus from the picker. The robot must be rugged, low power, lightweight, be capable of carrying a 10 pound box of strawberries and be able to operate for hours without recharging. Prior to and during the Phase I effort, we have designed and constructed the hardware and firmware for a prototype that meets these specifications. During Phase I, we began developing the guidance and control software.The complexity of robot autonomy includes image processing, scene understanding, predictive modeling, and path planning. Robot autonomy in a complex and unstructured environment is beyond the scope of an SBIR effort. However, strawberry fields and their surrounding roads are very regular, so the software task is tractable. By the end of Phase I we demonstrated furrow tracking, collision avoidance, picker following, and picker leading capabilities. We propose here to continue the advancement of the control software. By the end of Phase II we will demonstrate autonomous operation including hand-off in the field, obstacle accommodation, collection station identification, hand-off at the collection station, return-to-my-picker, and pack-up-and-go-home behaviors. Phase II will include field trials with multiple robots, each interacting with its own picker team and with the common inspection station.This effort utilizes the expertise at Tanner Research in mechanical design, power electronics, firmware, and software development including image processing, tracking, and advanced algorithms with large data and throughput requirements. For this work, we will augment our internal team with specific robot expertise from our collaborators at Caltech, Prof. Joel Burdick, and his graduate students.We expect to commercialize the results first with our lead customers Terry Farms and Driscoll's, and then, after rapid refinement, expand the roll-out to strawberry farmers statewide and worldwide. We expect to adapt the robot to other applications including transport of other crops, data gathering such as rapid phenotyping, picking, planting, weeding, and pest remediation.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Army | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2016

Tanner Research will develop and demonstrate a proof-of-concept airburst fuzing sensor for use in gun-launched munitions. A gun-hardened piezo-based sensor, with no moving parts, will sense setback and balloting accelerations to accurately pinpoint the projectiles transition into free-space at the barrel exit. Using analysis of the acquired data and the known and consistent barrel length, it will be possible to infer with microsecond precision barrel travel-time. From this data, a straightforward calculation of actual muzzle velocity can be provided to the fuze. This measurement can be used to modify (in flight) the fuze timing provided by the fire control computer to greatly increase the accuracy of the airburst. Fundamental to this approach is the need to implement a cost effective solution, as a full guidance systems have been shown to dramatically increase costs to the point of infeasibility. Moreover, since actual firing conditions in the gun breech will change between the first and any subsequent rounds fired, the performance of this timing method will effectively compensate for temperature variation compensates airburst fuze timing.


Patent
Reid and Tanner Research, Inc. | Date: 2015-04-08

An upflow continuous backwash deep bed sand filter (UCBF) (100) having a recycle line (180, 170, 167) for returning carbonaceous denitrifying bacteria attached to biomass to the influent of the UCBF (100). The recycle line (180, 170, 167) returns the biomass to the treatment process at a location upstream of the upflow continuous backwash filter (100). Further, a liquid level control unit (130) is provided that reduces fluctuations and significant drop in the liquid level (144) upstream of the upflow continuous backwash filter (100), thereby avoiding or minimizing flow turbulences, air induction, and undesirable wastewater aeration resulting in the need to dose excessive carbon source to remove dissolved oxygen in the aerated wastewater.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Missile Defense Agency | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 974.99K | Year: 2014

In the Phase I, Tanner Research designed, developed, and demonstrated an EED (electro-explosive device) with self-test logic in bench-top hardware. This EED with Built-in-Test (BiT) functionality leveraged Tanner Research"s core TRL-7 IM-compliant exploding foil initiator (EFI) and fireset technology which is capable of initiating next generation (NexGen) energetics. NexGen energetics are absolutely required for reliably initiating the in-line insensitive energetics and transitioning to Insensitive Munition(IM) compliance. In Phase II, Tanner Research and its principal teammate, will develop a Built-in-Test (BiT) MIL-STD-1901A Solid Rocket Motor/Through-Bulkhead Initiation (SRM/TBI) device. The planned MDA EAFD form factor which consists of MIL-STD 1901A compliant fireset, BiT circuitry, and dual detonators is highly compact. In parallel with delivering a pre-production EAFD with BiT, Tanner Research will investigate specific energetic health monitoring modalities to improve in-situ energetic failure prediction and lifetime assessment. Approved for Public Release 14-MDA-7903 (2 July 14)


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Defense Threat Reduction Agency | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 975.32K | Year: 2014

Prevention of the smuggling of special nuclear materials (SNMs) and other radioactive material into the United States is a key national security objective. It is desirable to have a system capable of stand-off detection to monitor and rapidly alert the presence of covert nuclear materials. In Phase I, Tanner in collaboration with the University of New Mexico have established the method of inferring nuclear radiation infer via observing alternative signatures of radiation. In Phase II Tanner proposes to design, assemble and deliver a prototype system capable of detecting tens of grams of SNMs and other radioactive materials at stand-off distances of greater than 40 m. This will be a TRL-6 stand-off detection prototype that probes the stand-off location, performs data acquisition and analysis and displays the results, all accomplished via a graphical user interface that controls the operation of the instrument.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Missile Defense Agency | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 125.00K | Year: 2014

Radio Frequency (RF) offers many advantages over Electro-Optical/Infrared for seekers on hypersonic electromagnetic rail guns (EMRG) launched interceptors, but has not been used due to the small aperture limited by the projectile diameter. Tanner Research has overcome this limitation with the endfire antenna, with an aperture that depends on its length, making it ideal for projectile platforms. Tanner has been developing RF seekers for hypersonic projectiles launched from EMRGs. In Phase I, Tanner proposes to leverage the existing design and hardware implementation of the RF seeker, advancing to the next level demonstrating the accuracy with which the RF seeker can estimate the target location. Using Tanner"s existing RF seeker hardware, a Prime team-member"s test facilities will recreate the RF conditions of a hypersonic engagement and intercept, to exercise the seeker"s target location algorithm, collecting data of seeker performance that is essential to 3/6DOF simulations that show hypersonic interceptor mission-level performance. Approved for Public Release 13-MDA-7631 (18 November 13).


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Missile Defense Agency | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 125.00K | Year: 2015

The evolution in safe and arm (S&A) devices to in-line electronic S&A and Arm-Fire devices (ESAD/EAFD) have not tracked closely with the incredible cost- and size-reductions made by electronics in-general. Large electro-mechanical S&A device used in rocket motor ignition systems have become one of the notable cost elements on current missile systems. Developing and delivering considerably smaller, in-line, electronic S&A devices can greatly improve system reliability and cost, and reduce space, weight and power (SWAP) for both legacy and forth-coming missile systems. Tanner Research in conjunction with Teledyne Electronic Safety Products (ESP), and supported by Raytheon RMS, proposes to micro-miniaturize a redundant dual-fire electronic Arm-Fire device as a paradigm for creating cost-effective initiation devices for ANY ordnance or energetic application. The team plans to leverage their reliable TRL-7 EAFD/through bulkhead initiator (TBI) architecture previously developed with insensitive exploding foil iniator (EFI) detonators specifically crafted for initiating and igniting insensitive energetics. At the completion of the Phase II, this high voltage in-line ESAD/EAFD will have reliable redundancy, built-in test (BIT) functionality and packaged as a through-bulkhead initiator. Approved for Public Release 14-MDA-8047 (14 Nov 14)


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Missile Defense Agency | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.99K | Year: 2015

Current methods for measuring optical figure and transmitted wavefront error are challenged for large aspheric optical components . Lack of symmetry and large size make traditional measurement techniques impractical. Tanner Research proposes to develop an approach that overcomes these obstacles by leveraging existing techniques with advanced algorithms and a customized mechanism that enables a practical means for measuring surface finish and wavefront distortion. The goal is a compact, low-cost metrology instrument that produces surface finish and wavefront error maps, which can be used in the iterative refinement of large aspheric objects. (Approved for Public Release 15-MDA-8482 (17 November 15))


Grant
Agency: Department of Agriculture | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 99.89K | Year: 2015

The demand for affordable, nutritious, and delicious strawberries continues to grow while the availability of manual field laborers continues to decline. Current strawberry picking operations require the picker to spend time carrying each picked box of strawberries to the edge of the field to a collection station. Our proposed autonomous four-wheeled strawberry transport robot could carry the picked boxes of strawberries out of the field while the picker continues to pick. In this way, the picker can pick more and thus earn more, and the farmer can save money by picking the same number of strawberries with fewer laborers or the farmer can increase production with the same labor. We are designing the robots to be so light weight that they will not be a danger to the pickers.In order for the robots to save money by replacing human time, the robots must be inexpensive. We have designed a low cost platform using plastic components and we use low cost electric motors developed for high-volume consumer products. During this effort, we will utilize our software expertise as well as the robotics knowledge from our Caltech partners in order to design the guidance system for the autonomous robot so that it can follow the furrows in the strawberry field, avoid collisions, and transport the strawberries to the collection station without human intervention. The availability of powerful computers at affordable prices, allows for the first time the sophistication of autonomous operation at a cost such that increasing the production of a manual laborer is economical.We expect that trials with the robots developed under this project will demonstrate an increase in productivity of the human pickers of 50%. Strawberry farmers in our area understand the economics of automated transport very well and are eagerly anticipating using the robots developed under this effort.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2014

Energetic materials find applications in diverse areas that affect our everyday lives. Their handling is inherently risky, and accidents have been reported that has led to the loss of lives or severe injuries to the people involved. Consequences of accidents for humans and national security make it imperative to understand the mechanisms and physical factors that are fundamental to the initiation of energetics in order to reduce and eventually eliminate them. Electro-Magnetic Radiation (EMR) over a wide range of frequencies has been demonstrated to cause premature activation of explosive devices. In order to systematically predict the long term stability and enable improvements in safety and performance of energetic materials in the presence of EMR it is necessary to understand the microscopic mechanisms by which energy from EMR is absorbed in the material lattice and molecular pathways of transfer of this energy to the relevant vibrational energies of the energetic material. In Phase I, Tanner will develop a test bed to investigate energetics exposed to electromagnetic radiation by detecting their activation at the molecular level. We will identify molecular pathways that efficiently transfer energy from EMR to vibrational energies of the material, and develop a physic-chemical model for the kinetics of this energy transfer to quantify the reaction kinetics and activation energy.

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