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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

Active Ankle for Use with Microspine Gripper

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

Active Ankle for Use with Microspine Gripper
Asteroids and comets are fascinating members of the celestial order. These objects provide a unique window into the composition of the original solar nebula and offer clues on how this nebula evolved into planetesimals and eventually into planets. Further, these "small solar system bodies" are thought to have served as the mechanisms that brought water to the Earth and, possibly, the organic molecules that served as the building blocks of life. To help uncover the secrets these bodies hold, NASA has prioritized exploration missions to study the surfaces of near earth objects. However, the small mass of asteroids and comets provide only a fraction of the gravitational force produced on earth. Consequently, robotic mobility technologies currently employed are fundamentally incompatible with these missions. An innovative concept for an active foot that allows a walking robot to anchor itself to the surface with each step is proposed. By combining an omni-directional microspine gripper with an actively actuated ankle, the system will provide the dexterity necessary to conform to variable surface topography, engage and disengage the gripper from the surface, quantify the quality of attachment, and insulate the gripper from the disruptive motions of the robot as it moves. A basic prototype will be built and tested in Phase I, and the development and integration of a fully functional first article system will take place during Phase II. More »

Anticipated Benefits

Primary U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

Technology Transitions

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This is a historic project that was completed before the creation of TechPort on October 1, 2012. Available data has been included. This record may contain less data than currently active projects.