NASA SBIR 2015 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 15-1 H6.01-9110
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Human Robotic Systems - Mobility Subsystem, Manipulation Subsystem, and Human System Interaction
PROPOSAL TITLE: SOUL System Maturation

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Busek Company, Inc.
11 Tech Circle
Natick, MA 01760 - 1023
(508) 655-5565

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr. Vlad Hruby
11 Tech Circle
Natick, MA 01760 - 1023
(508) 655-5565

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Judy Budny
11 Tech Circle
Natick, MA 01760 - 1023
(508) 655-5565

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 4
End: 5

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Human Robotic Systems - Mobility Subsystem, Manipulation Subsystem, and Human System Interaction 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)
Busek Co. Inc. proposes to advance the maturity of an innovative Spacecraft on Umbilical Line (SOUL) System suitable for a wide variety of applications of interest to NASA, DoD and commercial missions. SOUL is a small (<10kg) robotic, self-propelled, self-navigating, autonomous vehicle equipped with a tool (e.g. gripper, light, camera etc.). The SOUL vehicle/robot is attached via the umbilical line to a larger host spacecraft that stows it in a marsupial-like manner and communicates with ground. The umbilical delivers power and commands to SOUL from the host spacecraft. Conceptually, the SOUL is a tool on the end of tens of meters long robotic arm with infinite degrees of freedom (flexible umbilical) that can access locations unreachable by conventional robotic arms. The initial purpose of the USAF and Navy funded SOUL development was removal of large space debris (1000kg class). SOUL has broad applicability including visual inspection and servicing of the host vehicle or other spacecraft and asteroid sample pickup. Under this program, the development of the SOUL vehicle was extremely successful exceeding all goals. The SOUL autonomously recognized simulated debris, estimated its pose relative to the target (fusing visible, IR images and IMU information), planned a path to the debris and executed the path and the touched the target with minimal momentum transfer. The demonstrations were performed on large, low friction air table. In the proposed effort Busek will focus on the development of the deployment/retrieval subsystem which is the least mature technology of the SOUL system. Demonstration of the integrated system will be performed on the air table. The ultimate goal is to make a flight worthy system and demonstrate it on the ISS. The specific objective of the Phase 1 is to design, build and test the umbilical line winch and its control system designed on the basis of numerical model that predicts the umbilical line dynamic behavior.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Possible NASA applications include: 1) Inspection of ISS external systems reducing requirement for costly and dangerous manned EVAs. 2) Inspection of heat shield on reentry vehicles to prevent disasters such as Columbia. Integrating SOUL into such vehicles for routine use prior to re-entry would greatly increase the crew safety; 3) Collect small samples from asteroid/comet surface without landing the larger mother ship/host. If Philae was on an umbilical line or if the harpoons were on an umbilical, the Rosetta mission would have been greater success; 4) Create large deployable space system such as large antennas/apertures by coupling multiple satellites using the umbilical line (e.g. rotating formation for stability or artificial gravity); 5) Enhance manned the EVA capability: a) The SOUL robot could carry lights, bring tools, spare consumables (e.g. air tank) to the EVA astronaut working on the ISS or any other future ship; b) The SOUL robot could provide real time video of EVA activity from vantage points unreachable by either other astronauts or conventional robotic arms; c) The SOUL robot could provide auxiliary heat management system or even water vapor capture system reducing weight and power requirements for the EVA suit; d) The SOUL-like umbilical line could carry power and fiber optics comm link reducing reliance on EVA suit batteries while the fiber optics can relay high resolution video from the EVA suit camera.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Many of the NASA and non-NASA applications overlap and some were listed above. Purely commercial applications are also numerous centering on the commercial GEO sat. Examples include: 1) Self-inspection leading to on-orbit servicing/repair of host spacecraft. This of particular interest to GEO Com sat owners/primes during deployment of appendages, anomaly diagnostic and aging assessment; 2) Inspection of other spacecraft with development proceeding to on-orbit servicing/repair and even refueling (when the umbilical contains a propellant transfer tube); 3) Autonomous operations enabling on-orbit assembly and repurposing as envisioned by DARPA's Phoenix Program; 4) Capture of large debris which could then be towed to disposal orbit by the larger host vehicle, Small SOUL mass decreases the danger of additional debris produced by inadvertent collisions due to SOUL low momentum; 5) Function as a long boom with sensors on the end, (e.g. Langmuir probes, magnetometers etc.) enabling better measurements via greater distance from the large host vehicle causing less disturbance to local plasma/environment; 6) Assist in space situational awareness by sensing RF, presence of effluent molecules some distance away from the host etc; 7) Calibrate RF/radar antennas by measuring near-field pattern by flying the SOUL vehicle with the appropriate sensors in front of the antenna/aperture.

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.)
Autonomous Control (see also Control & Monitoring)
Image Processing
Relative Navigation (Interception, Docking, Formation Flying; see also Control & Monitoring; Planetary Navigation, Tracking, & Telemetry)
Robotics (see also Control & Monitoring; Sensors)

Form Generated on 04-23-15 15:37