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NASA pours $96 million into small businesses performing tech research

By Greg S ยท 4 replies
Mar 8, 2018
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  1. As part of the Small Business Innovation Research program, NASA has chosen 128 proposals to fund. In total, $96 million will be awarded to the recipients working on in-demand research topics. Neuromorphic computing, sensor and camera systems, new wheel concepts and solid-state oxygen concentrators are among the current projects.

    Unmanned delivery drones are in need of improved real-time processing for the mass amounts of data incoming from dozens of different sensors. Combining signals from cameras, avionics systems and traditional sensor types will improve collision avoidance with space objects but making use of all the collected data is still a challenge. Neuromorphic processors can offer low power consumption and accelerated processing for deep learning applications that may lead to more effective exploration efforts.

    California-based business Mentium Technologies, Inc. has been awarded funding to pursue the development of deep learning hardware accelerators that are able to achieve between a 100 and 1,000 times improvement compared to standard microprocessors. This is on par with Intel's claims of performance increases on its prototype neuromorphic chip Loihi.

    This is now the second phase of NASA's small business research program. The second phase lasts for two years during which funded companies must push their new technologies towards the final stages of development. Up to $750,000 is available for this round over the 24-month period. During the third and final stage, products and technologies are expected to be commercialized and made available for use by NASA or other eligible entities.

    According to NASA, approximately 55 percent of all jobs within the United States have been created by small businesses since the 1970s. Through funding programs, innovative technologies are able to be developed rapidly with the help of specialized businesses and brought into production much faster than relying on internal research efforts.

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  2. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 4,540   +3,133

    There is another way to put it...

    Milking for fresh ideas, because NASA itself is fresh out. But I guess it's all good, as long as it is all for space exploration, or is it because NASA is exempt from any patent-infringing mitigation? :)

    Could be because they now have a chip with brains, and they think they are smarter than everybody else. :)

    Maybe they will get lucky, and find some All-Go-No-Quit-Big-Nuts-Harry-Stamper type of genius under a rock somewhere... to quickly suit up for oil mining on mars, in case they find it.

    Ok, I get carried away on Thursdays, so what?
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
  3. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 4,131   +2,420

    You are certainly welcome to draw that conclusion; however, drawing that conclusion does not make it true.

    Historically speaking, NASA has always had a partnership with companies to develop technology for it. It does not in the least mean that they have run out of ideas. Take the F1 engine that was the main engine of the Saturn V, for instance, as an example of many out there that are already public knowledge.
  4. Bubbajim

    Bubbajim TechSpot Staff Posts: 692   +674

    Wait, what? Trying to reinvent the wheel? Classic.
  5. Cpu's are not 'brains', they are not even intelligent. They follow algorithms and their instruction sets. There is no understanding or intent. Artificial intelligence is a term that shouldn't even exist.
    When Newton came up with his laws of motion etc., that was the paradigm for the time, everything was mechanical in nature. Even the universe was described as the clockwork universe. A mechanical calculator was invented.
    Now the brain and how it might work are the current paradigm. Many things in computing are using terms more applicable to biology. Intelligence, neural networks, etc. Wait and this too shall pass.

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