Advanced science.  Applied technology.



UAV 3D mapping system


Using IR&D funding, SwRI developed an unmanned aerial system with smaller payloads and updated exploration algorithms to meet lower size, weight and power constraints in demand. The mapping system uses a limited-range, field-of-view time-of-flight sensor and algorithms to support 3D exploration using less data. The platform explored and mapped several different test fixtures designed to evaluate its capabilities.

As a nonprofit research and development organization, SwRI uses part of our revenue to invest in tomorrow’s innovations, to broaden the Institute’s technology base and to encourage our staff’s professional growth. In 2022, SwRI initiated 89 new projects, investing more than $7 million in internal research, including quick-look and focused research programs. IR&D fulfills the Institute’s objective of conducting innovative activities for the benefit of industry, the government and humankind.

By investing in internal research, we are investing in the technology our clients may need in the future. The program also allows our engineers and scientists the freedom to explore innovative and unproven concepts for the benefit of clients without contractual restrictions and expectations.

Novel tetrahedron gathers negolith samples

Since 2010, the Institute has used internal research funding to establish SwRI leadership in the emerging suborbital research field. In one unmonitored experiment aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket, novel tetrahedrons passively gathered regolith similar to asteroid surface materials, turning themselves inside out to store the samples for transport. The SwRI design was very efficient, nearly filling the entire collection volume with almost half of the mechanism’s own mass in collected materials.