NASA SBIR 2014 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 14-1 H6.01-9498
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Spacecraft Autonomy and Space Mission Automation
PROPOSAL TITLE: Approximate Cartesian Control for Robotic Tool Usage with Graceful Degradation

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
TRACLabs, Inc.
100 North East Loop 410, Suite 520
San Antonio, TX 78216 - 1234
(281) 461-7886

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Patrick Beeson
100 North East Loop 410 Suite 520
San Antonio, TX 78216 - 1234
(281) 461-7886 Extension :707

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
David Kortenkamp
100 North East Loop 410 Suite 520
San Antonio, TX 78216 - 1234
(281) 461-7886 Extension :704

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 4

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Spacecraft Autonomy and Space Mission Automation is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Many of NASA's exploration scenarios include important roles for autonomous or partially autonomous robots. It is desirable for them to utilize human tools when possible, rather than needing to build custom tools for each robot. Control of robotic manipulators for tool usage generally requires a very precise Cartesian-space trajectory of the tool tip (e.g., moving a marker along the surface of a whiteboard or rotating a screwdriver about an axis). Well-known techniques exist for manipulator control in Cartesian space, most of which necessitate solving a series of Inverse Kinematics (IK) problems. Closed-form IK solvers work well for 7-degree-of-freedom (DOF) arms with rigid tool attachments, but cannot handle non-rigid tools that slip in the robot's hands. Numerical IK approaches are more generic and can handle non-rigid links to tools, but can be slow to converge. More importantly, if any joints fail or become limited in their range of motion, the robot arm essentially becomes 6-DOF or lower. IK solvers often fail in these lower DOF spaces because the configuration space becomes non-continuous and full of "holes". As a result, a 7-DOF robotic arm in space might be rendered largely useless if a single joint fails or even loses mobility until it can be serviced.

TRACLabs proposes to investigate an alternative approach to traditional Cartesian control approaches, which rely on complex IK solvers that go from Cartesian space backwards to joint space. We propose to leverage cheap memory and modern processing speeds to instead perform simple computations that go from joint space forwards to Cartesian space. Such techniques should overcome common changes to a manipulation chain caused by tool slippage or the grasping of a new tool and to overcome uncommon changes to a chain caused by joint failures, reduced joint mobility, changes in joint geometry or range of motion, or added joints.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
NASA's future robotics missions are expected to rely heavily on dexterous robots. These robots will need sophisticated control software in order to function. These robots will assist humans with tasks as well as work with no human presence to perform tasks such as assembly and terrain preparation. This work is directly applicable to current NASA robots such as Dextre and Robonaut-2, both of which are currently on-board ISS. Even under teleoperation, this software could overcome any failing or ailing joints to still get experiments performed or tasks completed. This work is also applicable to NASA ground robots such as Centaur and
future exploration robots.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Dual arm manipulation robots are also becoming more common in
industrial settings. Rethink Robotics and GM are making pushes for
more generic humanoid robots to be use in factory settings. We
believe the proposed technology will allow these robot to continue at
least partial work if joint breaks during operation.

The Department of Defense (DOD) is investing heavily in remote robotic
operations including unmanned ground vehicles and is beginning to
equip these vehicles with sophisticated manipulation systems. This
manipulation systems are used for Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD),
medical operations, entering and clearing buildings, moving supplies
and unloading pallets. Our technology will greatly increase the
usefulness of highly dexterous robots in military environments We
expect substantial interest in the DOD to these kinds of

We are also working with the US Army on remote medical robotics
applications. In addition, we see applications in the urban search and rescue (USAR) arena and are coordinating with Texas A&M's Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue.

We are also investigating remote operation of robots on oil drilling
platforms to reduce manpower and allow for continued operation in the
face of storms that require evacuation of platform personnel. We are
also investigating the automation of remotely operated underwater
vehicles, such as those produced by Oceaneering.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (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.)
Algorithms/Control Software & Systems (see also Autonomous Systems)
Autonomous Control (see also Control & Monitoring)
Robotics (see also Control & Monitoring; Sensors)

Form Generated on 04-23-14 17:37