Over the last ten years, the Stanford Aerospace Robotics Laboratory (ARL) has developed a hardware facility in which a number of space robotics issues have been, and continue to be, addressed. This paper reviews two of the current ARL research areas: navigation and control of free flying space robots, and modelling and control of extremely flexible space structures. The ARL has designed and built several semi-autonomous free-flying robots that perform numerous tasks in a zero-gravity, drag-free, two-dimensional environment. It is envisioned that future generations of these robots will be part of a human-robot team, in which the robots will operate under the task-level commands of astronauts. To make this possible, the ARL has developed a graphical user interface (GUI) with an intuitive object-level motion-direction capability. Using this interface, the ARL has demonstrated autonomous navigation, intercept and capture of moving and spinning objects, object transport, multiple-robot cooperative manipulation, and simple assemblies from both free-flying and fixed bases. The ARL has also built a number of experimental test beds on which the modelling and control of flexible manipulators has been studied. Early ARL experiments in this arena demonstrated for the first time the capability to control the end-point position of both single-link and multi-link flexible manipulators using end-point sensing. Building on these accomplishments, the ARL has been able to control payloads with unknown dynamics at the end of a flexible manipulator, and to achieve high-performance control of a multi-link flexible manipulator.
SPACECRAFT DESIGN, TESTING AND PERFORMANCE
NASA. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, The Sixth Annual Workshop on Space Operations Applications and Research (SOAR 1992); p 54-65