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Position Verification Sensor

Position Verification Sensor with Discrete Output (PVS)

Description: A low-cost, minimal footprint sensor that provides pass/fail output of key insertion within a specifically-sized keyway; The sensor is designed in a modular fashion such that the change in accuracy of the key insertion can measured to desired tolerances.

Technology developed in support of the Identification and Isolation Robot Workcell Accuracy Degradation test method.

Challenge: It can be costly to determine if the health of a robot workcell has degraded BEFORE quality and/or productivity is impacted. 

Solution/Resulting Product: A low-cost, minimally invasive method to efficiently assess the change in accuracy at various points along the kinematic chain (e.g., robot arm, gripper) with respect to the workspace

Download the Published Non-Provisional Patent Application

Technical Contact: Brian Weiss

Dynamic High Accuracy 6-D Measurement System with a Vision Agnostic Non-blocking Smart Target

6D Smart Target

Description: A smart target that integrates with a vision system to acquire high-accuracy, real-time 6-D information at high speed 

Technology developed in support of the Robot Accuracy Degradation Assessment test method. 

Challenge: Robot accuracy degradation can negatively impact operations and is relatively difficult to be detect unless compromised part quality, obvious failure, or stop occurs.

Solution/Resulting Product: A robot health assessment method to assess a robot’s tool center accuracy degradation in as little as 10 minutes  

Download the Published Non-Provisional Patent Application

NIST Mechanical Engineer Guixiu ‘Helen’ Qiao recently invented a novel smart target that integrates with a vision system to acquire six-dimensional (6-D) information (x, y, z, pitch, yaw, and roll) of a moving object with high accuracy. The active smart target is motorized to constantly rotate toward the vision system to maximize its line-of-sight and its measurement capability. This invention offers unique advantages in supporting a vision system’s ability to capture precise 6-D information of an object that requires precision localization in a variety of applications, including registering multiple machines/tools/objects, adaptively locating objects during mobile applications, or precisely tracking the pose of an object, including objects used within robot or machine operations. This technology is a key element of Helen’s research to develop novel test methods to assess the degradation of robot accuracy within manufacturing operations. Learn more about Helen’s research and technology transfer efforts at

Technical Contact: Helen Qiao

Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) for Smart Machine Tools


Description: A precision inertial measurement unit (IMU) that provides knowledge of changing linear axis performance to maintain quality of parts produced by machine tools and prevent unplanned downtime

Challenge: Machine tools are vital for production, but wear causes unknown performance changes and unplanned downtime, so manufacturers asked if they could have “machine health in 5 min?”

Solution/Resulting Product: An IMU-based method for near real-time and on-machine (no setup time!) measurement science to diagnose machine tool performance & root causes of faults

Download the Published Non-Provisional Patent Application

Technical Contact: Greg Vogl

Created February 26, 2020, Updated July 7, 2020