This effort makes innovative contributions to NASA-relevant space exploration tasks: (i) sustained and accurate manipulation of physical control interfaces on machinery and vehicles by an operator on a shaking space vehicle or rover, (ii) the stable and coordinated handling of scientific or photographic hardware by an astronaut during ambulation across uneven terrain, and (iii) the precise and reliable control of telerobotic devices for robotic-EVAs in unpredictable conditions. Another possible NASA application could be telerobotic surgery from a surgeon on the Earth to an astronaut in space.
Ensuring predictable response in the presence of unexpected failures is critical to the safety of operation of these bioassistive telerobotic devices and to reducing risk to human lives. Beyond the NASA space exploration possibilities for ABATRODs, these devices have clear military (moving soldiers and vehicles on uneven terrain) and medical applications involving a broad range of possibilities and high commercial impact. Bioassistive device technology may be used to augment normal function, to prevent injury to function, and/or to rehabilitate injured function. Exoskeletal devices for augmenting normal function enable increased load-carrying capabilities and sustain robust gait characteristics in adverse terrain. In telerobotic applications, normal function is augmented through the transformation of human motor activity to different scales of motion and force. Further, exoskeletal devices for preventing injury to function alleviate the occurrence of repetitive stress disorders through compensatory action, enable heavy lifts, and support added loads, say a back pack on a child's back to prevent developmental damage. Finally, exoskeletal devices may be used for rehabilitating injured function to assist locomotion-impaired or otherwise disabled individuals, prevent circulatory problems in extremities, and enable the resumption of every-day activities involving sustained balance and support. Telesurgical applications offer additional opportunities for the ABATROD concept.