NASA SBIR 2006 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Surface Handling and Mobility, Transportation, and Operations Equipment (Lunar or Mars)
PROPOSAL TITLE:A field reconfigurable manipulator for rovers

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Traclabs, Inc.
8610 N. New Braunfels, Suite 110
San Antonio, TX 78217-2356
(210) 822-2310

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Robert   Burridge
1012 Hercules
Houston, TX  78217-2356
(281) 461-7884

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT ( Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Robots will be precursors to human exploration of the lunar surface.
They will be expected to prepare the lunar surface for human
habitation as well as conduct scientific investigations. As humans
arrive the robots should be able to shift to providing direct
assistance to human exploration activities. Such tasks require a new
generation of robotic vehicles -- a generation that has flexible,
dexterous manipulation capabilities and adjustable software
controllers that can shift between remote teleoperation, autonomy and
co-located human interaction. Our innovation consists of two
components. The first component is a reconfigurable, dexterous
manipulator that is designed to be mounted on a mobile robot. The
manipulator will be light-weight and low-power. It will contain a
reconfigurable number of up to seven degrees-of-freedom. The second
component is a software system that can adjust control of the
manipulator from teleoperated to autonomous and that can control the
mobile robot and the manipulator as a coordinated unit. We propose to
implement a method called Coordinated Resolved Motion Control that
will automatically and jointly control the rover as well as the
manipulator such that the manipulator will stay away from
singularities. Together these two innovations will substantially
increase the capabilities of NASA rovers, making them more efficient
and effective.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
NASA exploration missions will require significantly more complicated
robots than are currently being used. Several NASA research projects,
including Robonaut, K-10 and Athlete are working towards highly
dexterous, intelligent robots. Our NASA applications will focus on
our software as much as our hardware. While only a small number of
dexterous manipulators will be needed by NASA, many of NASA's research
robots will require coordinated motion of rover and manipulation. For
example, Centaur is a four-wheeled base with Robonaut on it being
developed at NASA Johnson Space Center. NASA Ames Research Center
(ARC) and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory also have research robots that
combine mobility and manipulation. We will work with all of these
researchers in Phase 3 to adapt our coordinated control software to
their robots. In addition we expect to deliver our reconfigurable
manipulator to NASA ARC for permanent mounting on one of their K-10

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Unmanned vehicles are becoming more and more common in battlefield
situations. The Future Combat Systems (FCS) program envisions manned
and unmanned vehicles of all sizes working side-by-side. In addition,
Congress has mandated that one-third of all military vehicles must be
unmanned by 2015. Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) is the primary
domain in which robots are currently used. No EOD robot on the market
has a dexterous manipulator. We believe our reconfigurable technology
will make us the clear choice in this market. Non-military markets
such as civilian EOD, urban search and rescue and hostage situations
are also increasingly using robots. Often a single mobile robot will
have to perform many different tasks giving our reconfigurable
technology an edge. Another market is the research robotics community
such as universities and government laboratories. The reconfigurable
aspect of our manipulator is a selling point because it allows
laboratories to upgrade to more DOF over time and allows them to
reconfigure the manipulator for different research objectives. We
will also generalize our mobile robot interface to allow integration
with commercially available robots. We expect that the next
generation of robotics research will focus on mobile manipulation with
programs being supported by NSF, NASA, DARPA and other funding

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

Autonomous Reasoning/Artificial Intelligence
Human-Robotic Interfaces
Integrated Robotic Concepts and Systems

Form Printed on 09-08-06 18:19