For deep-space habitats, especially ones left in orbit around a destination planet or Moon, astronaut time at the habitat will be both infrequent and very valuable and it would be extremely desirable for robots to outfit the habitat prior and to allow robots to perform maintenance and logistics tasks. While theoretically it may be possible to design robots to interact with a habitat designed without robotic interactions in mind, the addition of cooperative robotic interaction features can dramatically simplify and improve the robustness of the robotic outfitting hardware. These robotic interaction aids ideally can serve three purposes: 1) helping robots determine their relative pose and position with respect to the target, and their relative location/pose inside or outside the habitat, 2) identifying what the objects are, especially if the objects are mobile like soft-goods bags, and 3) simplifying physical interactions with the object, including anchoring to and manipulating the object. To enable these types of robotic interactions, Altius proposes leveraging our existing commercially available (TRL8/9) “DogTag” grapple fixture and developing a lightweight, low-cost, passive robotic magnetic interface (IVR DogTags) that can be attached to various habitat structures and objects. We envision using our patented electropermanent magnet (EPM) based gripper for interfacing with the IVR DogTags. The IVR interface includes: 1) a thin ferromagnetic material layer that allows robots to magnetically grip the DogTag, 2) a long-range optical fiducial printed and attached to the DogTag’s surface that allows the robot to determine relative pose and position of the object & 3)methods for attaching the DogTag to the desired object including rigid surfaces and soft-goods objects. The other half of the interface is the EPM gripper, which uses an electrically switched permanent magnet with no moving parts to enable secure attachment to and release from the IVR DogTag interfaces.
The proposed solution provides an active electropermanent magnet (EPM) based gripper head integrated with the Astrobee and a passive robotic magnetic interface (IVR DogTags) that can be attached to various habitat structures and objects to perform IVR logistics, cargo management and outfitting activities. This solution is applicable to ISS, Gateway and other facilities that benefit from robotic maintenance of habitat sub-assemblies for long duration missions.
The proposed solution provides supports various habitat structures and objects to perform IVR logistics, cargo management and outfitting activities. This solution is applicable to commercial facilities (Axiom/Nanoracks) that would benefit from robotic maintenance of habitat sub-assemblies for long duration missions.