Sensors Mag

NASA Goddard Auctioning Patents

March 23, 2012 By: Christopher Ahern, Foresight Science & Technology

E-mail Christopher Ahern

(Editor's Note: Periodically I'll get a notice about upcoming technology transfer opportunities and when I get these notices, I like to pass them along to you guys, just in case any of the technologies on offer could solve whatever problem you're currently attempting to solve. The most recent offering is a series of patents from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, as part of the 15th ICAP Ocean Tomo IP Auction. I'll now hand things over to Christopher Ahern, who is a support contactor for the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Team Leader for Aerospace, Defense & Transportation for Foresight Science & Technology.)

Why Auction Patents?
NASA Goddard's Innovative Partnerships Program Office (IPPO) is tasked with developing new channels for partnership and collaboration with other government agencies, academia and private industry to expand its expertise and technology base both internally and externally. It also allows for the leveraging of existing capabilities, something that is mutually beneficial for both NASA and its collaborators.

NASA Goddard's participation in the upcoming 15th ICAP Ocean Tomo IP Auction is an example of this type of outreach. IP auctions are not a traditional tool for technology transfer for the government but this approach has been pioneered by the Goddard and Marshall Space Flight Centers to help augment their existing efforts.

The auction approach helps NASA meet its commitment to disseminate information about technical achievements and promote NASA-sponsored technology development for uses beyond NASA missions. The successful commercialization of NASA technologies can increase the competitive advantages of domestic organizations in a range of sectors. By leveraging the core competencies at Goddard, private companies can build upon the advances already proven in the harsh environments of space.

The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's available patent lots include technologies related to:

  • Automated software generation
  • Autonomic computing architectures
  • Autonomic management of environmental monitoring systems

Originally developed for adaptive and autonomous control of satellite systems and other mission specific needs, these patent lots have diverse applications in software development, robotics, telecommunications, utilities, smart grids, wireless sensor networks, quantitative finance, and cyber security, among others.

More broadly these patents hold value in any field where a need exists to design highly complex, automated, and intelligent systems. The auction format enables a quick, dedicated transaction process and will allow those interested to review and bid upon a wealth of NASA software technologies in one setting.

The Patents on Offer
The available portfolio of patents can greatly simplify the task of creating, programming and managing adaptive and highly complex systems such as control software for sensor networks.

One of the patent lots is focused on autonomic computing that was originally developed by IBM to manage increasingly complex computing systems. The core idea borrows from biology, specifically the human body's autonomic nervous system. This controls basic bodily functions such as breathing and blood pressure, without any conscious effort or intervention required from the individual. In autonomic computing, the computer system uses pre-defined policies and rules to manage and maintain itself, without direct action from administrators. Since this minimizes the amount of oversight, autonomic computing can be a powerful tool for managing extended and complicated systems.

Another patent lot encompasses tools for automatically creating software code. This can greatly reduce the amount of development time necessary to produce software programs. As needs change, the code can be changed accordingly, simply by changing an informal description. This is also advantageous for developing large, complicated software systems. If the system can be described (either with natural language or graphically) then code can be quickly created for it, irrespective of its complexity. In essence, these technologies allow for quick modification of existing code, allowing programs to serve the needs of dynamic environments. And integrating a new program into an existing system in theory could be as straightforward as adding its description to that of the overall system.

For more information about registering for the auction, the bidding process and more, please see the ICAP Auction web site.

Christopher Ahern is Team Leader for Aerospace, Defense & Transportation, Foresight Science & Technology, Providence, RI. He can be reached at 401-273-4844 ext. 23,

About the Author: Christopher Ahern

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