Available Technology

Reconfigurable Avionics Drive/Sensor Modules

Standardized hardware with multipurpose technology functions
Current, centralized avionic architectures rely on highly integrated, complex PDUs that require support equipment, usually larger than the unit itself, and require high software development costs. Through a small form factor, reconfigurable design, and distributed architecture, NASA's SMART technology reduces the time, cost, and complexity of avionics module development. Its ability to interface with drive components very early in the system development cycle enables software development and validation early, saving time and eliminating the need for customization. The drive module (SMART-D) provides command-and-control functionality for multiple end-item avionics applications, while the sensor module (SMART-S) performs signal conditioning functions for sensing, monitoring, and operating different avionics flight sensors. The SMART avionics are flight qualified and use standard connections, such as RS485, RS232, Ethernet, and others, leading to simple interfaces between systems with only communication/power lines connecting modules to the main avionic system. Function reconfiguration is achieved through software, avoiding the need to change hardware; additional development is required only when new functions that have not been previously developed are needed.
Patent Abstract: 
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) has developed compact, reconfigurable electronic devices to drive and control avionics instruments. Typical avionics systems function through centralized power distribution units (PDUs), which have complex, expensive, and time-consuming design, development, test, and evaluation (DDT&E) cycles. To increase efficiency and lower design and implementation costs, the Standardized Multipurpose Avionics with Reconfigurable Technology (SMART) has been developed, replacing the PDU and sensor signal conditioning functions. By replacing the PDU, the system is able to process commands and condition signals at the application site, thus lowering system load. SMART can also be reconfigured for new tasks without changing hardware. This means functions can be added or changed later in the DDT&E cycle and even during integration, helping to reduce cost and schedule impact while enabling responsiveness to changing application needs.

Reconfigurable: allows reuse of hardware instead of necessitating module replacements as requirements change


Aerospace: onboard avionics

Manufacturing: ground-based industrial systems

Environment: remote sensing and monitoring

Refineries: unmanned industrial equipment

Research labs: equipment for highly specialized environments, such as clean rooms

Patent Number: 
Internal Laboratory Ref #: 
Patent Status: 
Patent Issue Date: 
September 2, 2015
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