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Artimus Robotics Wins Phase 1 NASA SBIR

Updated: Jan 31, 2022

Potential self-diagnosis capabilities of Artimus Robotics’ intelligent actuators piques interest of National Aeronautics and Space Administration research and development sourcing group.

On May 19, 2021, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) awarded Artimus Robotics a $125,000 Phase 1 Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) grant to develop the self-diagnosis capabilities of Artimus Robotics’ intelligent actuators for space missions. The smart capacity of the soft, electric actuators made by Artimus Robotics has been explored in automotive, medical, and industrial automation applications. However, utilizing the smart, self-sensing abilities for self-diagnosis, failure prediction, and failure mitigation is particularly intriguing to NASA because of the extreme difficulty associated with component failure recovery for field missions.

To test reliability, NASA has historically used predetermined test plans to attempt to replicate the environmental and operating conditions for subsystems and components. However, it is nearly impossible to perfectly reproduce and test the exact field conditions in laboratory settings, leaving open the possibility of unexpected failures which can jeopardize the success of the entire mission or even human safety. Recent advances in smart capabilities of components and subsystems have allowed for adding failure prediction and mitigation into NASA test plans in addition to comprehensive testing for failure prevention.

As NASA pushes to more remote regions of space with highly complex tasks expected for success--for example, launch systems on the moon--there will be a variety of motion challenges. Actuators and other robotic systems will be imperative to address these motion tasks, as humans will often not be present, or at the very least, an extremely limited resource. Thus, there will be an increasing demand for actuators to perform properly in both known and unknown environments. To ensure proper functionality, a new class of intelligent actuators is needed that feature self-diagnosis and calibration for on-demand capabilities. These actuators need to adapt in real-time and overcome unforeseen operation challenges in space to ensure system reliance and a successful mission. The self-diagnosis and calibration for on-demand capabilities of intelligent actuators will ensure proper operation and lead to an overall decrease in operation and maintenance (O&M) cost by detecting anomalies and faults, as well as increasing control and recovery when anomalies or faults occur. The self-diagnostic and failure-prediction benefits can also help other commercial applications, such as reducing downtime in industrial automation maintenance programs (changing routine scheduled maintenance frequency intervals to just-before failure).

Smart Actuators from Artimus Robotics

Hydraulically Amplified Self-Healing Electrostatic (HASEL) actuation technology from Artimus Robotics is a soft, variable capacitive structure in which two opposing electrodes partially cover a flexible pouch filled with a dielectric fluid. This structure creates a variable capacitor that changes capacitance when the separation distance between the electrodes changes (during actuation or when deformed by an external stimulus). The changing capacitance can be monitored through the use of real-time impedance measurements and correlated to the physical state of the actuator. Through extensive experimental testing, patterns and indicators in the real-time impedance measurements of HASEL actuators will be used to predict and mitigate performance variations and faults.

About SBIR

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are highly competitive programs that encourage domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) with the potential for commercialization. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR and STTR enable small businesses to explore their technological potential and provide the incentive to profit from its commercialization. By including qualified small businesses in the nation's R&D arena, high-tech innovation is stimulated, and the United States gains entrepreneurial spirit as it meets its specific research and development needs.

About Artimus Robotics

Artimus Robotics designs and manufactures soft electric actuators. The technology was inspired by nature (muscles) and spun out of the University of Colorado. HASEL (Hydraulically Amplified Self-healing ELectrostatic) actuator technology operates when electrostatic forces are applied to a flexible polymer pouch and dielectric liquid to drive shape change in a soft structure. These principles can be applied to achieve a contracting motion, expanding motion, or other complex deformations. For more information, please visit Artimus Robotics or contact

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