Invention of the Year Awards for 2014
The Government Invention of the Year is Robonaut 2 (R2), from Johnson Space Center. R2 has established itself as the first of its kind in numerous ways: the first humanoid in space; the first robot inside a manned space vehicle operating without a cage; the first robot to work with human rated tools in space; the first robot to use American Sign Language in space; and the first robot to use standard ultrasound equipment to scan a medical mannequin. Its development is due to the efforts of many inventors, and several patents have issued that relate to R2.
The Commercial Invention of the Year is the Direct-To Controller Tool from Ames Research Center. This invention provides commercial airline flights with the ability to fly more directly to their destinations by being provided with smart direct routes that are uplinked to flight crews within seconds after being identified. The invention is licensed to a commercial entity, and has resulted in savings of about 1,000,000 flight minutes per year, and about $75,000,000 in airline operating costs per year.
Runner up awards were given to:
Methods for Producing High-Performance Silicon Carbide Fibers, Architectural Preforms and High-Temperature Composite Structures (Government IOY) from Glenn Research Center
Real-Time Fiber Optic Sensing System (FOSS) (Commercial IOY) from Armstrong Flight Research Center.
Honorable Mentions were given to the following inventions
Unsteady Aerodynamic Reduced-Order Models (ROMs) for Efficient Aeroelastic Analysis from Langley Research Center
Continental Digital Elevation Map Compression and Decompression Software from Armstrong Flight Research Center
Flash Infrared (IR) Thermography Contrast Computer Simulation and Data Analysis Software from Johnson Space Center
Hermetic Seal Leak Detection Apparatus from Marshall Space Flight Center
Software of the Year Awards for 2014
Two NASA software design teams have received the agency’s prestigious Software of the Year Award for 2014. One team’s software helps determine the structural loads for aircraft and space vehicles. The second package performs nonlinear surface crack analysis to prevent critical structure failures.
The Configuration-Based Aerodynamics (CBAERO) software package developed by Jeffrey Bowles and David Kinney from NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, and Loc Huynh of Eloret Corp., also in Moffett Field, is used to predict how NASA’s Crew Exploration Vehicle, America’s exploration, and other aerospace designs will react to high temperatures in a variety of simulated flight conditions.
Tool for Analysis of Surface Cracks (TASC) was developed by Phillip Allen, a materials engineer and structural analyst at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The software provides a more thorough understanding of surface crack material fracture toughness — essential to prevent failure — for safer aerospace vehicles and structures. Surface cracks are the most common defect found in engineering structures. The results of the surface crack fracture toughness tests and fracture analyses ensure safe operation of nearly all of NASA’s flight and ground support hardware. TASC is available to download for free at NASA's Software Catalog Website.
Runner up awards were given to:
A team from NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, for changing the aerospace design paradigm with FUND3D, and a team from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, for their Ensemble software. A group from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, received an honorable mention for their JSC Engineering Orbital Dynamics (JEOD) 3.0 software.