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Tension-Stiffened and Tendon-Actuated Space Manipulators

Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia The Space Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (SRMS) and Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) have proven the benefit of long-reach manipulators, with the reach of both manipulators in the l5-18-m class. Manipulators with greater reach provide many benefits. The SRMS’s limited reach required an additional 12-m boom to augment its reach during inspection of the belly of the SRMS in support of return to flight following the Columbia disaster.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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NASA Tensegrity Robotics Toolkit (NTRT) v1

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California Tensegrity robots have many unique properties useful for robots intended to operate in natural settings, yet the exploration of how to build and control such robots is just beginning. Many of their positive qualities, such as multipath force distribution, compliance, and their oscillatory nature, also make them very challenging for traditional control approaches.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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RoboSimian Software System from the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California A software architecture to allow semiautonomous mobile manipulation of highly dexterous robots under degraded communications was developed to enable remote operation of a mobile manipulation robot as a first responder in a disaster-response scenario. The software architecture is structured to be adaptable at the lowest level and repeatable at the highest level. This architecture strikes the right balance between autonomy and supervision, and lets the robot excel in its capabilities (repeatability, strength, precision) and lets the operators excel at their capabilities (situational awareness, context, high-level reasoning).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Autonomous Micro Aerial Vehicle Flight Using Optical Flow and Inertial Cues

Full information provided by optical flow and inertial readings is used to achieve a complete vehicle state estimation. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) are agile and have unstable flight dynamics. They require a failsafe method to be navigated through areas even without GPS coverage. The approach of this work is to use only the feature matches between two consecutive images, i.e. optical flow (OF) and inertial cues. The vehicle’s pose and additional intrinsic as well as extrinsic states are estimated continuously to navigate and control the MAV through the area. Optical flow cues and inertial measurement readings are fused in an EKF (extended Kalman filter) framework to estimate a metric 3D body velocity, terrain plane-parameters, terrain plane relative 3D attitude including heading, and metric distance between the camera on the MAV and this plane. The estimates of the EKF provide the vehicle controller with accurate information about the vehicle and the environment in order to navigate the micro-helicopter autonomously through large areas. The system is fully self-contained and all computation is done onboard the MAV in real-time. This eliminates the need of a data link to a ground station and allows standalone operation.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Universal Robotically Operated Leave-Behind Gripper

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas This universal robotically operated leavebehind gripper allows robotic (or extravehicular activity — EVA) attachment capability of any object at eight existing types of attachments at the International Space Station (ISS). It enables expansion of external stowage and payload sites to include hundreds to thousands of available, existing sites at ISS, without EVA.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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DshellCommon Simulation Framework

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California DshellCommon software has been developed for specifying and executing generic multibody system simulations. This innovation helps the user create and execute simulations for mechanisms, vehicles, spacecraft, or other systems by making it easier to write simulation “run scripts” for systems that vary from simple (a few lines) to very complex (many lines that spell out each part of the system in detail). DshellCommon is a layer of software over the original Darts/Dshell multibody dynamics and modeling software. Darts is the multibody simulation code (implemented as Darts, Darts++, and Ndarts), and Dshell is the framework that supports models of various types (such as wheel actuators, lighting, etc.) that interact with the multibody system. Dshell also manages numerical integration and simulation of the full multibody systems, along with all included Dshell models. DshellCommon provides software classes and utilities that simplify the creation of basic or complex system simulations along with necessary environments such as terrain, atmosphere, etc. For more information, please check the following website: http://dartslab.jpl.nasa.gov/

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Neutrally Buoyant Tank Inspection and Cleaning Robot

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Huge savings in cost and inspection times (as well as improved safety) could be obtained by performing in-service inspection of tank floors and walls with robotic devices. This would have a reduced environmental impact and meet EPA and state regulations.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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