New Spinoff Publication Shares How NASA Innovations Benefit Life on Earth

Navigational Doppler Lidar is an instrument developed at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia to land spacecraft safely, but it could help self-driving cars successfully navigate rush-hour traffic. Credit: NASA.

As NASA pushes the frontiers of science and human exploration, the agency also advances technology to modernize life on Earth, including drones, self-driving cars and other innovations.

NASA’s diverse missions spur the creation and improvement of thousands of new products that make life better for people around the world. Dozens of the latest examples are featured in the newest edition of NASA’s Spinoff publication, including several from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, and many illustrating how NASA is working to shape the coming revolution of autonomous vehicles on the roads and in the air.

In this issue of Spinoff, readers will learn about Langley’s contributions to:

  • A special 3D imager with a global shutter flash lidar that’s helping NASA sample an asteroid and could soon help cars safely navigate the road.
  • Navigational Doppler Lidar, an instrument developed to land spacecraft safely, that could help self-driving cars successfully navigate rush-hour traffic.
  • A weight-estimating software that is helping design urban air taxis.
  • Unique sensors that are improving aerodynamic design and aircraft performance.
  • A new laser that enables precise measurements for weather forecasting.
  • A swarming technology that will let drones work cooperatively to monitor crops and infrastructure and could improve military training.
  • And a new software that can help reduce uncertainty in complex systems used to validate autonomous systems for planes and drones. It can also predict how drug molecules might behave in the body.

The publication also includes a “Spinoffs of Tomorrow” section, which highlights 20 NASA technologies available for license, including a nanosensor array that can diagnose illness by scent, a drought assessment and prediction system, and a computer monitoring system that alerts when hackers try to infiltrate.

Spinoff highlights the many successes of the agency’s Technology Transfer program within STMD, which is charged with finding the widest possible applications for NASA technology through partnerships and licensing agreements with industry, ensuring that NASA’s investments in its missions and research find additional applications that benefit the nation and the world.

Print and digital versions of the latest issue of Spinoff are available at:

An iPad version, including shortened versions of the stories, multimedia and interactive features, is also available for download in the iTunes store.

For more information about NASA’s Technology Transfer program, visit: