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Proceedings Paper

Designing modular robots for a spectrum of space applications
Author(s): Robert O. Ambrose; Martin P. Aalund; Delbert Tesar
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Paper Abstract

Monolithic robots are poorly suited to the broad requirements and uncertainties of space automation applications. Weight limitations prohibit the selection of many robots, each capable of a few tasks. Building one generic robot limits automation to that robot's narrow application spectrum. A better approach is to fly a set of standardized components that can be reconfigured as required by the immediate needs on the Space Station, the Lunar surface, or beyond. This set of modular building blocks will weigh less than the family of equivalent monolithic machines, offer changeouts of broken components, and widen the spectrum of tasks that automation can address in space. Further advantages of the modular design philosophy include reduced mean time to repair, reduced operator training, and reduced system cost. While a number of robotic joint and link modules have been developed within the community (7 joints and 12 links at UT alone) there has yet to be an agreement on the standardized interfaces that other industries have exploited. The goal for this project was to design a modular robot standard that allows advanced controllers to communicate with each of the modules, verifying their positions and mounting orientations within the robot, while simultaneously offering a quick release capability to the operator. Two new link modules and one new joint module were designed to support this standard, and their development is reported. The design has proven merits which include a lightweight, high stiffness, on-module data storage, extra wire capacity, and assembly verification capabilities that are unique.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 November 1992
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 1829, Cooperative Intelligent Robotics in Space III, (1 November 1992); doi: 10.1117/12.131714
Show Author Affiliations
Robert O. Ambrose, Univ. of Texas/Austin (United States)
Martin P. Aalund, Univ. of Texas/Austin (United States)
Delbert Tesar, Univ. of Texas/Austin (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 1829:
Cooperative Intelligent Robotics in Space III
Jon D. Erickson, Editor(s)

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