NASA has awarded USD 14.3 million to 19 projects under its small business technology transfer program. These 19 projects are those which have qualified for Phase II of the funding from among 56 projects announced in 2016. NASA funds small outside research projects which are of interest to it. These 56 projects in Phase 1 were given up to USD 125,000 to go ahead with their proposals and had to report about the progress of their projects to NASA. The 19 projects chosen out of these 56 projects based on the reports will get an additional funding of up to USD 750,000 for further research. If you think that you can come up with similar or better projects you too can join the race and apply on STTR/SBIR basics page.
We are listing the 5 most interesting types of research of them here:
Otherlab: This California based research and product development company are working on flexible sensors for robotic platforms. After all, robots should also be able to calculate how hard they are holding something just like a human can tell when he grips something with his hands.
Fibertek: It has been chosen for its research on increasing the efficiency of the lidar system. The firm claims that it can not only enhance the efficiency of the system but also reduce its size by applying a combination of technologies like 3D printing, ‘ ultra compact unstable or near stable ring resonator’ and flash images.
Mango Materials: This San Francisco based start-up advanced to Phase II on the strength of its project aimed at ways to feed methane bacteria in space to make usable plastic, keeping in mind the constraints of microgravity and other space related peculiarities.
Applied Research LLC: The project which has won NASA approval centres on improving the performance of image processing onboard landers and rovers. For this enhancement, the company is betting on new algorithms that would make it easier to get depth enhanced (Virtual Reality) views using the mastcams or stereo cameras in a shorter period of time.
Nanohmics: This Austin, Texas based company claims to have come up with a chip-scale sensor that is perfect for planetary imaging. This compact sensor that has no movable parts can reportedly produce multispectral images without the large lenses and filters that are necessary today for such images.
The next two years will be crucial for these five projects and the other 14 not listed here as they will work towards their goals after which they could go gain qualification for Post Phase II initiatives and opportunities.