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Physics student has patent pending on invention

12/4/2007

Austin Peay State University junior Bryan Gaither, who worked the last three summers as research associate at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, is awaiting federal approval on a patent for a combined joint sensor useful to the field of robotics.

If the patent is granted, Gaither wants to continue working on the invention at Austin Peay.

“I am hoping to bring the research back to the campus,†he said. “I want to get more students involved and am working to recruit students for the project.â€
Austin Peay State University junior Bryan Gaither, who worked the last three summers as research associate at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, is awaiting federal approval on a patent for a combined joint sensor useful to the field of robotics.

If the patent is granted, Gaither wants to continue working on the invention at Austin Peay.

“I am hoping to bring the research back to the campus,” he said. “I want to get more students involved and am working to recruit students for the project.”

Gaither was the engineer on the spring joint package with overstrained sensor (OS sensor), exhibited July 20, 2007, at the NASA Robotics Academy to researchers and professors. A public presentation of the model also was given in August.

According to the patent application filed in June 2007, the joint provides a ball-and-socket-like attachment with a restoring force designed to bring it back to the center. The sensor throws a high signal when the joint has bent too far. Together, the two help to provide reliable sensing that does not require calibration.

Currently, the joint sensor is being used in the prototype of the Tetrahedral Walker Project (4-TET), of which Gaither has been the team lead for the last three summers while attending the Goddard Space Flight Center.

“I love this architecture. It has so many applications,” said Gaither, who plans to pursue a career in space robotics with a focus in human-robotic interaction. “I especially have enjoyed the challenges that have come with this experience.”

With NASA, Gaither and his team worked on the modeling of tetrahedral-based robotics structures as part of the 4-TET. The development is important in the field of space robotics, Gaither said.

For more information, contact Dr. Jaime Taylor, professor and chair of physics and astronomy, by telephone at (931) 221-6361 or by e-mail at taylorjr@apsu.edu. -- Melony A. Jones