The arm Energid proposes will advance the application of AFFs by enabling them to both sense and manipulate the environment. The abilities to perch indefinitely and maneuver using the momentum of the arm will save power and extend the life of the AFF. The software toolkit, which includes both mobile articulated robot dynamics and sensors will support NASA and other researchers in exploring algorithms and missions before fielding. The value provided through these applications will lead to additional work for Energid from NASA. Energid will provide support for the application of the arm and simulation software on upcoming missions both as a prime contractor and as a supporting subcontractor.
Energid, through its Robai subsidiary, manufactures and sells the Cyton robot arms, counting over 300 units shipped to date, on which the new arm for AFFs is based. Aerial robots represent a large portion of the globally mobile robots market, which is forecasted to grow to $14.2 billion by 2019. There is currently a void in the marketplace for a high degree of freedom and inexpensive (less than $10k) arm that is light enough to be attached to small (~0.5 m footprint) UAVs and UGVs. Energid is eager to enter this market and will commercialize the new arm for aerial robots along with Actin for control and simulation of aerial manipulators. This contract will enable Energid to extend the Cyton into this new market, particularly for use with terrestrial quadcopters, and sell licenses for the control and simulation software improvements made to Actin.