A report describes an interface for utilizing some of the mobility features of a mobile robot for general-purpose manipulation of tools and other objects. The robot in question, now undergoing conceptual development for use on the Moon, is the All-Terrain Hex-Limbed Extra-Terrestrial Explorer (ATHLETE) rover, which is designed to roll over gentle terrain or walk over rough or steep terrain. Each leg of the robot is a six-degree-of-freedom generalpurpose manipulator tipped by a wheel with a motor drive. The tool interface includes a square cross-section peg, equivalent to a conventional socket-wrench drive, that rotates with the wheel. The tool interface also includes a clamp that holds a tool on the peg, and a pair of fold-out cameras that provides close-up stereoscopic images of the tool and its vicinity. The field of view of the imagers is actuated by the clamp mechanism and is specific to each tool. The motor drive can power any of a variety of tools, including rotating tools for helical fasteners, drills, and such clamping tools as pliers. With the addition of a flexible coupling, it could also power another tool or remote manipulator at a short distance. The socket drive can provide very high torque and power because it is driven by the wheel motor.
This work was done by Jaret Matthews, Norman Ahmad, and Brian Wilcox of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Mechanics/Machinery category. NPO-43308