The ESA utilized the GRP 4400 wheeled, intelligent platform to
create a rover-based robotic arm system called "Interact Centaur".
ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen will control the rover on Earth from
the International Space Station (ISS) on September 7th, 2015. Read
the ESA article below.
27 August 2015 - Early September will see the very first force-feedback-based teleoperation
of a rover-based robotic arm system on Earth from the International Space Station,
orbiting 400 km above our heads.
Danish ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen will take control of the Interact
Centaur rover, which incorporates a pair of arms to perform precision operations.
In the process Andreas will make use of haptic control – providing him with
force feedback to let him feel for himself as the robotic arms encounter resistance.
In this way, he can perform dexterous mechanical assembly tasks in the sub-millimetre
range, remote-controlled from space.
“When we humans have to perform precision operations, for instance simply inserting
our key into the lock of our door, we are relying largely on our feeling of tactile
and force receptors in the hand and arms – not on eyesight,” states André Schiele,
principal investigator of the experiment, head of ESA’s Telerobotics and Haptics
Laboratory and Associate of the Delft Robotics Institute.
“Visual information is of minor importance – these kind of tasks can be done with
our eyes closed. Now ESA is transferring this skill to remotely-controllable robotic systems.
“Without haptic feedback, the operator of a robot arm or rover must be very careful not to
damage something if the robot is in contact with its environment. As a result, a simple
task in space often takes a very long time.
“Moreover, the tactile sensation derived from any task contains important information about
the geometric relationship of the objects involved and therefore allows to execute tasks
more intuitively and thus significantly faster.”
The Lab team, working with students from Delft University of Technology, has developed
a dedicated rover called Interact Centaur. The 4x4 wheeled vehicle combines a camera
head on a neck system, a pair of highly advanced force sensitive robotic arms designed
for remote force-feedback-based operation and a number of proximity and localisation sensors.
As currently scheduled, Monday 7 September should see the Interact rover driven around
the grounds of ESA’s ESTEC technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, from the extremely
remote location of Earth orbit, 400 km up.
Signals between the crew and the robot must travel a total distance of approximately ninety
thousand kilometres, via a satellite constellation located in geostationary orbit. Despite
this distance, Andreas will exactly feel what the robot does on the surface – with only
a very slight lag.
Andreas, due to launch to the ISS on 2 September, will first attempt to guide the robot to
locate an ‘operations task board’ and then to remove and plug a metal pin into it, which has
a very tight mechanical fit and tolerance of only about 150 micrometres, less than a sixth
of a millimetre.
CBS News highlighted Robo Sally on "60 Minutes Overtime". Watch the video
by clicking on the external link above. The article has been reproduced below.
Meet "Robo Sally." She has the most sophisticated robotic hand and
arm ever engineered, but if you talk to her lead designer, Michael
McLoughlin, here's the most exciting thing about her: if Robo Sally's
arms are blown off on the battlefield, it's no big deal.
Unlike humans, says McLoughlin, "it's easy for us to build a new arm
for the robot." By tasking Robo Sally with dangerous missions like
diffusing bombs or manning checkpoints, soldiers can operate her
remotely from a position of safety -- which could, one day, dramatically
decrease the numbers of soldiers who suffer devastating limb injuries
Funded by the Department of Defense and created by McLoughlin's engineering
team at the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, Robo Sally
will eventually be operated from great distances. It's feasible, says McLoughlin,
that a technician located on a base in the U.S. could diffuse a bomb in, say,
Afghanistan, by wearing the special Robo Sally suit and visor that Scott Pelley
tried out in this week's 60 Minutes Overtime feature (above video player).
As you'll see in the video, complicated physical tasks are no problem for Sally.
Her arms are the same size and weight of a man's arms -- and every bit as strong.
She can curl up to 50 pounds, and her agile fingers, each containing a high-efficiency
mini-motor, can squeeze 20 pounds of pinch force. Pelley, a well-known tech geekaround
60 Minutes, is clearly wowed by Robo Sally's talents. Check out the above video to see
her in action and let us know what you think.