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NASA Offers Its Patents To Start-ups

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NASA is offering commercial startups initial no fee access to hundreds of its patented technologies as a means of creating greater access to new U. S. developed products and services based on the agency's wide ranging research and development efforts to advance astronautics and aeronautics.

In all, NASA is offering non-exclusive, catalogue-like access to more than 1,200 patented technologies in 15 broad categories that range from aeronautics and communications  to health, robotics and space propulsion.

Some examples:

-- Guidance and Control Method Increases UAV Range and Flight Duration, a guidance and control method that increases flight time and range of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones already equipped with a primary battery or solar power propulsion systems. The upgrade works by detecting thermals, or buoyant plumes of air. Soaring in thermals like a piloted glider enables the UAVS to fly faster and extend flight duration while reducing energy consumption. Flight times can be increased by up to 12 hours per mission.

-- Portable Wireless Signal Booster, a portable device to increase signal strength for cell phones, lap tops as well as satellite and Wi-Fi internet receivers without power plugs, cables or batteries. The booster may be configured as an umbrella or window shade for storage and deployments. The technology was developed originally to improve communications for lunar missions.

-- Real-Time, High Frequency Electrocardiograph Analysis, a technique for processing and displaying electrocardiograph data for enhanced diagnosis of human coronary artery disease, heart attacks, and cardiomyopathies. The upgrade can be used with existing ECG machines.

-- Robonaut 2: Medical Opportunities, a collection of technologies based on robotics research aboard the International Space Station by NASA, General Motors and Oceaneering. A highly dexterous humanoid designed to work side by side with astronauts, R2's spinoffs are suited to assist in medical settings in autonomous or teleoperation modes. Applications include working in combat or highly infectious medical settings for a range of activities, including surgeries.

-- SMART Solar Sail, a spacecraft deployable, fully autonomous solar sail incorporating nanotube struts and developed for highly accurate station keeping through small sail-surface deformations.

The patent access initiative is managed by NASA's Technology Transfer Program, which resides within the agency's Office of the Chief Technologist.

There are restrictions. The patented technologies are available only to companies formed with the express content of commercializing the licensed technologies. NASA waives the initial licensing fees for the first three years. NASA expects to collect a standard royalty fee once product sales begin, with the fees going to the inventor and the agency's on going tech transfer efforts. Commercial participants must comply with U. S. federal licensing statutes and NASA policies, including reporting on business plan development.

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