Mini-Grant Projects

Dr. Sara Myers, Biomechanics, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Portable Computerized Dynamic Posturography/Training System for Astronauts

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As a result of long weightlessness in space missions, astronauts experience neuromuscular and sensorimotor challenges. These decrements may affect their postural control upon return to Earth’s gravitational environment. Currently, accurate assessment of balance can only be performed with expensive and stationary laboratory equipment. The existing machines are limited in their capability to induce side-to-side perturbations and implement perturbation tests. To address the existing limitations, the focus of this project is to define specifications for a portable computerized dynamic posturography and balance training system, called Lokahi, that can be used for balance assessment and rehabilitation. This project will focus on developing a computer aided design model and a physical prototype of the proposed portable computerized dynamic posturography and balance training system. We will also focus on exploring NASA use-cases for Lokahi by leveraging existing NASA collaborations.

Dr. Keegan Moore, Mechanical Engineering, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Understanding the Nonlinear Dynamics Governing Vertical-Lift Vehicles with Variable-Speed, Fixed Rotors

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To meet growing demands for clean and affordable transit options in urban environments, NASA has targeted the creation of revolutionary vertical lift vehicles that introduce a new dimension into transportation. Although implementing electric rotors in such vehicles eliminates air pollution, they do not address the noise pollution produced by them. Furthermore, it is currently unknown how nonlinear interactions arise in the dynamics of VL vehicle and how these interactions affect the performance and noise production of the vehicle. As such, this research will produce a new understanding of the nonlinear dynamics governing VL vehicles with variable-speed, fixed rotors. The dynamics of model VL vehicles will be investigated computational and analytically, and these results will be verified through comparable experiments. The resulting research will be disseminated through local and national conferences, a journal publication, and through webinars with NASA collaborators.

Dr. Ada-Rhodes Short, IT Innovation, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Modular Robust Rover Platform for Teaching and Research

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Sending robots instead of humans to explore remote and hazardous environments is generally considered a good idea. Unfortunately, robots are bad at handling the unexpected, and because there is no way to repair them in space, human management is needed to keep them running. This limits how far we can send our rovers because signal delays make the management needed infeasible. To solve this we need to create rovers that are more autonomous and better at survival. One way to study this would be to drop robots into the Nebraska Sandhills and see how long they survive. Unfortunately, traditional platforms are expensive and difficult to repair making that approach impractical. To address this problem, I propose the creation of a low-cost, modular, and 3D printable robot for studying survival. Additionally, this platform would be well suited for one of the harshest environments, grade school, where a low-cost platform that can be produced easily would make robotics education more accessible.