NASA SBIR 2006 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 06-2 X7.03-9595
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
8610 N. New Braunfels, Suite 110
San Antonio, TX 78217 - 0000
(281) 461-7884

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Robotic systems will be deeply integrated into future human exploration of the lunar surface. Prior to human arrival, they will conduct scientific investigations, explore potential habitation sites, prepare infrastructure, and construct the necessary facilities for human occupation and activity. When humans are present, robotic systems will assist and support them in the various activities of exploration and habitation. Given the great cost of developing such systems, transporting them to the Moon, and maintaining them there, NASA must ensure that the robots it sends are capable of many different tasks. This will enable a smaller number of robots to accomplish the necessary tasks while providing better redundancy in case of subsystem failure. We propose to build an innovative manipulation system that includes a modular dexterous manipulator for various mobile platforms and a software control system that seamlessly coordinates motion control of rover and manipulator. The manipulation system will be JAUS-compliant, enabling many existing technologies to easily interface with it. The proposed innovation has two main components. The primary component is a lightweight, low-power manipulation system for mobile platforms. The manipulator itself will be swiftly reconfigurable with up to seven degrees of freedom (DOF). There will be several different tools available for use at the end effector: some passive, some active. All associated electronics will be internal to the manipulator, requiring only power and data connections externally. Connections between modules will use the innovative "Universal Mating Adapter". The second innovative component is a software control system that coordinates control of the vehicle and manipulator. Such coordination extends the robot's dexterous workspace and facilitates teleoperation by providing the operator with a unified interface.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
There are many terrestrial applications where a robot adept at mobile manipulation would be preferable to a human. These include bomb disposal and other hazardous tasks, disaster recovery, search and rescue, and law enforcement activities. As with the NASA activities, a single universally-capable robot is unrealistic. It is preferable to assess the situation and simply equip the robot with the appropriate tools for the current task. Unlike NASA applications, where our primary customers are research groups exploring the issues of manned spaceflight who would provide recommendations to the teams that design future flight articles (perhaps including TRACLabs), our non-NASA customers will use our technology directly on the "front lines".

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
In manned missions, humans are scarce and valuable resources. Thus, as many tasks as possible should be automated. For tasks that require interaction with physical objects, this means robots! Researchers in space-related fields have a lot of experience with robots that are all alone in space or on another planetary surface. However, they are still gaining understanding of the extra complexities and capabilities that come when humans are nearby: close enough to teleoperate, service, or reconfigure the robot. In particular, easily reconfigurable robots will be essential to future manned missions, especially where mobile manipulation is required, because a universally-capable robot is unrealistic. We believe all research labs that are developing mobile manipulation for manned space exploration – at NASA, the national labs, and academic centers – will benefit from the technology being developed in this project.

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.

Human-Robotic Interfaces

Form Generated on 08-02-07 14:39