Home Bots & Brains Robots among Small Business Tech Ideas funded by NASA

Robots among Small Business Tech Ideas funded by NASA

by Pieter Werner

NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program has allocated $93.5 million in Phase II contracts to advance the development of space technology across the United States. These funds have been awarded to 107 projects from 95 small businesses, where nearly 80% of these companies have fewer than 50 employees and 21% are first-time recipients of a Phase II award, with each project receiving up to $850,000.

Managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center in California and part of the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), the SBIR program is instrumental in promoting innovation among a diverse array of small businesses within the space sector. Notably, 29% of the awards have been granted to businesses from underrepresented groups, including 11% that are women-owned.

Among the projects, PickNik Inc., based in Boulder, Colorado, is developing a hardware-agnostic platform for supervised autonomy in robotics. This technology, aimed at reducing astronaut workload and enhancing robotic operations, supports NASA’s Artemis program and has potential applications in various industries, including warehouse management and deep-sea exploration.

Another recipient, nou Systems, Inc., a women-owned business in Huntsville, Alabama, received funding for its genetic testing instrument designed to automate the DNA sequencing process. This innovation seeks to enable genetic analysis in remote settings on Earth and potentially other planets, addressing the challenges of field genetic sequencing that typically requires extensive manual preparation.

The SBIR program continues to drive significant technological advancements, contributing not only to NASA’s exploratory missions but also to fostering commercial opportunities that extend beyond aerospace.

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