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Autonomous Guidance Algorithm to Auto-Pilot Spacecraft in the Vicinity of Primitive Celestial Bodies

Sequential convex programming is used. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The dynamics in the vicinity of small bodies are highly nonlinear. Trajectory design in small-body environments requires accurate gravity and solar radiation pressure models to guarantee the satisfaction of spacecraft operational constraints such as thruster silent times, state, and control constraints. The G-PROX guidance algorithm generates fuel-optimal trajectories in the vicinity of asteroids and small bodies. The non-convexity in the control constraints is handled with the lossless convexification technique, which is a convex relaxation of the control constraints. G-PROX uses sequential convex programming and solves a convergent sequence of convex optimization problems generated via sequential linearization of both the dynamics and control bounds, synergistically combined with lossless convexification. The sequence of convex optimization problems converges to a locally optimal solution of the original nonlinear non-convex problem.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Robotics

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Safe Maritime Autonomous Path Planning in a High Sea State

Path planning for sea surface vehicles prevents capsizing and bow-diving in a high sea state. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The goal of this work was to develop algorithms and software to generate a path that takes into account the direction of waves and wind as much as possible in order to mitigate potential damage to an autonomous underwater vehicle. A risk-based path planning algorithm to analyze real-world sensory data is combined with an enhanced sea surface model to generate a safe path.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Robotics

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Human Grasp Assist

A spinoff of the NASA/GM Robonaut 2 humanoid robot, this lightweight, motorized device can reduce or eliminate repetitive stresses to hands and arms. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Repetitive manual operations can degrade the work efficiency of a human operator over time, with the cumulative stresses of repetitive motion potentially affecting the resultant product quality and/or process efficiency. Accordingly, a lightweight, motorized device has been created that a user/operator may wear on a hand and forearm to augment the innate ability to flex his or her fingers, thumbs, and various connecting phalanges of a hand, thus optimizing the amount of grasping force applied to an object. The amount of augmenting tensile force provided by the motorized device may be controlled by the user via force-based contact sensors positioned at a distal end of each finger. As the operator exerts a grasping force on an object, a microcontroller, which may be embedded within (or connected to) a flexible band or strap portion of the device, automatically executes an algorithm to thereby calculate and/or select an optimal amount of augmenting tensile force required for executing the grasping action.

Posted in: Briefs, Robotics

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The Changing Face of Robotics: Advanced Modeling and Simulation Techniques for Multibody Robotic Systems

Robotic technology has improved dramatically in the past decade, and applications are getting more complex as well. While a prior generation stunned the world by sending men to the moon in the 1960s, this generation will soon make a robot dance better than Michael Jackson.

Posted in: On-Demand Webinars, Robotics

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Autonomous Robots Keep Warehouse Running Green

YLOG, a startup company in Austria, uses an intelligent and very environmentally friendly logistics system that is winning an increasing number of customers. The technology makes use of individual, freely moving Autonomous Intelligent Vehicles (AiVs) that detect each other, observe right-of-way rules, recognize one-way routes, and complete their tasks fully autonomously without intervention from or coordination by a central computer.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Articles, Motors & Drives, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Sampling Mechanism for a Comet Sample Return Mission

A similar sampling mechanism could be deployed in dangerous situations on Earth. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Sample return missions have the ability to vastly increase scientific understanding of the origin, history, current status, and resource potential of solar system objects including asteroids, comets, Mars, and the Moon. However, to make further progress in understanding such bodies, detailed analyses of samples are needed from as many bodies as possible. A standoff sample collection system concept has been developed that would quickly obtain a sample from environments as varied as comets, asteroids, and permanently shadowed craters on the Moon, using vehicles ranging from traditional planetary spacecraft to platforms such as hovering rotorcraft or balloons on Mars, Venus, or Titan. The depth of penetration for this harpoon- based hollow collector was experimentally determined to be proportional to the momentum of the penetrator in agreement with earlier work on the penetration of solid projectiles. A release mechanism for the internal, removable sample cartridge was tested, as was an automatic closure system for the sample canister.

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

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PLC-Based Robotic Controls Versus OEM Robotic Controls

As more manufacturing facilities and distribution centers discover the benefits of robotic material handling solutions, the decision of how best to control the robot must be made. While robot original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) offer their own tightly integrated controller, recent developments have enabled control by a Programmable Logic Controller, or PLC. For facilities where PLC-based controls are already used in other machine control applications, the benefits of using one for the robot as well may be a wiser choice than the OEM controller. Let’s review PLC-based robotic control to help you determine if it’s the best choice for your application.

Posted in: Articles, Industrial Controls & Automation, Robotics

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