Inside Unmanned Systems

APR-MAY 2018

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

Issue link: https://insideunmanned.epubxp.com/i/969777

Contents of this Issue

Navigation

Page 17 of 67

18 April/May 2018 unmanned systems inside SPECIAL REPORT NASA TECHNOLOGY Infrasound Sensor Can be used to: •  Detect forming tornados •  Track and characterize hurricanes •  Warn of earthquakes, tsunamis •  Detect clear air turbulence •  Pinpoint industrial noise s n a p s h o t Photo courtesy of NASA. Originally designed to mine the surface of the moon or Mars, this foldable, lightweight excavator may be well suited for digging in hazardous or hard-to-reach areas on Earth. RASSOR was developed by engineers at NASA's Kennedy Space Center to support long-term space exploration by mining the regolith, which then can be broken down for breathing oxygen, water production, rocket fuel, metals and building materials. To deal with the challenge of low-gravity excavation the system has counter-rotating bucket drums on opposing arms that each off set the forces created by the other when operating. This also means RASSOR is not reliant on its own traction or weight to counteract the force of excavation. In addition, those bucket drums enable the unit to manage steep slopes, rough terrain and even climb over obstacles. RASSOR's symmetrical design makes moving forward or backwards easy and it can recover if it is overturned. The shallow scoops also shave the soil a bit at a time rather than taking big chunks. The bucket drums can be raised and the entire unit is able to stand on end for more effi cient unloading. To meet a projected mission objective of operating 16 hours a day for fi ve years, the RASSOR team took a minimalist approach to their design, reducing the number of parts to improve its reliability. The design can be scaled up or down depending on the planned use and it can be teleoperated or set up to run autonomously for certain tasks. (Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot (RASSOR) Excavator) Patent 9,027,265 RASSOR To deal with the challenge of low-gravity excavation the system has counter-rotating bucket drums on opposing arms that each off set the forces created by the other when operating. This also means RASSOR is not reliant To meet a projected mission objective of operating 16 hours a day for fi ve years, the RASSOR team took a minimalist approach to their design, reducing the number of parts to improve its reliability. The design can be scaled up or down depending on the planned use and it turbines. The sensor detects infrasound, a type of acoustic wave at frequencies of 20 Hz or less—too low for humans to hear. "Low frequency signals are emitted by certain tornadoes, by hurricanes, by earthquakes, by tsunamis, by wind turbines and also several other phenom- enon like flying aircraft," Shams said. One key characteristic of such sound waves is they travel over long distances without the attenuation. If a storm were developing over Baltimore, for example, sensors more than 200 miles away at Shams' lab at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, could detect it. Shams is installing infrasound sen- sors on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to study tornados. These wildly destructive funnels of wind form so close to the ground they are difficult for radar to detect. Sensor-equipped UAS can give area residents as much as an hour's advanced warning that conditions are ripe for tornado forma- tion. Just as importantly, a triangula- tion formation of three or more such drones, f lying at least 100 feet apart, can be used to tell the direction of the tornado, perhaps even track where it's headed. Though the sensors could be installed on the ground, putting them on drones offers the f lexibility to shift them as different weather fronts move through. Unmanned aircraft with infrasound sensors can be used in a similar way to help predict the impact of other types of severe weather including hurricanes. Currently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) assesses hurricanes by sending manned aircraft (and more recently a NASA

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Inside Unmanned Systems - APR-MAY 2018