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Space Technology Research Grants

Semi-Autonomous Telerobotic Manipulation for On-Orbit Spacecraft Servicing and Assembly over Time-Delayed Telemetry

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Despite the prevalence of this telerobotic surgery of humans, we still do not have the capability to service (refuel and repair) or assemble spacecraft on-orbit with telerobotic systems. Whether we intend to service active spacecraft on-orbit, or assemble new larger spacecraft on-orbit, the ability to do so with telerobotic systems could yield a new paradigm for spacecraft development and design. This would remove the constraints imposed on spacecraft designs by launch vehicles and enable the development of larger and previously-impossible space structures. Developing sufficiently capable and robust telerobotic systems for on-orbit operations is a technological challenge that and will require novel methods in order to yield a practical solution. My proposed research will begin with the augmentation of classical telerobotic systems with algorithms and approaches normally used in autonomous robotics. I will draw on my own research experience and familiarity in both of these subfields of robotics in order to develop new fundamental research in semi-autonomous telerobotics. My research plan includes: (1) incorporating more sophisticated sensing and motion-planning into telerobots, (2) developing algorithms and systems for multi-scale autonomy, and (3) using machine-learning to feed telerobotic experience back into the semi-autonomous systems. I believe we can develop a new class of robust semi-autonomous robotic platforms that will enable us to perform far more complex tasks than we could previously with telerobotic systems under high-latency telemetry. More »

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