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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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Visualization and Introspection for Teleoperation of Robotic Systems

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The Space Exploration and Analysis Simulations (SEAS) project at JPL performs analysis of advanced mission and system concepts on behalf of NASA. One of the concepts being explored involves operation of robotic rovers on the Moon from a remote operator station located either at a Lunar Lagrange point (L2) halo orbit, or on Earth. Another concept is the use of teleoperation to inspect asteroids.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Robotic Exoskeleton (EXO)

This wearable device can assist walking for persons with paraplegia, and can be used in gait modification and rehabilitation. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas The Exoskeleton (EXO) is a device that falls into a new classification of robotics called wearable robots. On-orbit applications include countermeasures and dynamometry, allowing for continual assessment of a person’s muscle strength while aboard the International Space Station. Due to its small, compact size and relatively light weight [57 lb (≈26 kg) without batteries], EXO holds great promise as a countermeasure device for missions below low-Earth orbit.

Posted in: Briefs, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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2015 Create the Future Design Contest: Machinery/Automation/Robotics Category Winner

Compact, Long-Reach Robotic Arm William R. Doggett, John T. Dorsey, George G. Ganoe, Thomas C. Jones, and Cole K. Corbin, Langley Research Center (Hampton, VA); Bruce D. King, Lockheed Martin (Bethesda, MD); and Charles D. Mercer, Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies (New York, NY) Langley’s Tendon-Actuated Lightweight In-Space MANipulator (TALISMAN) technology is a robotic arm with lightweight joints that provide a wide range of motion. The design provides users with a long reach and numerous degrees of freedom. The arm, ideal for use in aquatic environments or for manipulation of light terrestrial loads, consists of articulating booms connected by antagonistic cable tension elements. The arm elements are structurally efficient and lightweight, and support compact packaging.

Posted in: Articles, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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