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Expose NASA technology

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Entrepreneurs dream of finding a million dollar idea. The NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California has some such ideas.

NASA Armstrong has a range of technology that can be licensed by US companies and universities. This includes a wireless HIS hub that facilitates updating the vehicle’s electronics and sensors, and fiber optic HIS wires along about a human hair.

The mission of NASA Armstrong’s Office of Technology Transfer is to connect businesses, universities, and other government agencies with the technology developed by the Center.

Benjamin Tomlinson, technology transfer officer at NASA Armstrong, said: “We want American companies to be able to adopt and publish these technologies that we have developed in-house.”

The TTO uses an evaluation process to determine how to prioritize NASA-developed technologies for matching with external organizations.

“This technology will be evaluated to determine what market it has and whether it is patentable. Our technology must be patentable,” said Tomlinson. “After Armstrong’s internal evaluation, we send the technology through the government agency’s evaluation process. If there is a relevant opportunity, we will patent it.”

TTO then seeks to match the technology with prospective users through field-specific professional and academic organizations, technical reviews, and webinars.

Those interested in licensing NASA technology can visit NASA’s technology transfer site at https://technology.nasa.gov. If you are interested in the technology, the website will point you to the NASA center that owns the patent.

“Sometimes the technology isn’t fully documented in the patent, so one of the people in the Technology Transfer Office needs to explain it,” says Tomlinson. “If we need more information, we will set up a meeting with the inventor and ask him to explain in more detail.”

When an outside organization licenses NASA technology, that agency receives a portion of the proceeds. Part of the funds raised goes to inventors and inventor groups, and part goes to the centers where the technology was born. NASA Armstrong used the funds for new equipment and training.

And while NASA’s Armstrong technology may be of interest to the industry, Tomlinson said the need needs a little more progress. “We are trying to fill the gap by making it even better than it is today,” Tomlinson said.

One such example is a wireless hub that acts as a gateway between an aircraft’s sensors and its display or data acquisition system. The hub acts as an information control point, wirelessly receiving data from sensors and passing that data to the aircraft’s displays.

Reprogrammable hubs or gateways allow new wireless sensor systems to be installed without the need to install heavy cables and wires.

The technology attracted interest, including from major airlines, but they felt it hadn’t been developed to a level where it could be easily “plugged and played,” says Tomlinson. TTO is working on a flight test program to advance the technology.

Commercial users who license NASA Armstrong’s technology are often smaller companies, Tomlinson said.

“We want small businesses to adopt these technologies that we developed in-house and open them up to the public,” says Tomlinson.