For 2012, the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program selected eighteen new NIAC Phase I awards, and ten new Phase II awards based on earlier Phase I studies. These proposals were selected based on the potential of their concepts to transform future aerospace missions, enable new capabilities, or significantly alter and improve current approaches.
Each Phase I study will receive approximately $100,000 for one year, and each Phase II study will receive approximately $500,000 for two years. These studies will advance numerous innovative aerospace concepts, and help NASA achieve future goals. NASA Ames received two Phase I NIAC 2012 awards, these include:
Super Ball Bot - Structures for Planetary Landing and Exploration The project is developing a mission concept where a "Super Ball Bot" bounces to a landing on a planet, then deforms itself to roll to locations of scientific interest. It revolves around a radical departure from traditional rigid robotics to "tensegrity" robots composed entirely of interlocking rods and cables.
Water Walls: Highly Reliable and Massively Redundant Life Support Architecture Water Walls is meant to be a simpler, more reliable life-support system inspired by nature. It replaces complicated active mechanical systems with passive “cells” that transfer fluids by forward osmosis, removing CO2, revitalizing oxygen, recycling urine, processing solid waste and growing algae just in case the astronauts run out of food.