A modular manipulator system, based on SCHUNK, Inc. joint modules, is used to quickly build manipulators of various configurations. Force-torque sensors and stereo camera pairs have been added to the system to provide diverse capabilities. A corresponding modular software environment, implemented within the CLARAty robotics software environment, has been developed to enable rapid development of control systems for the new arm configurations.
A force-torque sensor and coring tool were attached to modular arms to investigate coring from a manipulator for the 2009 Mars Science Laboratory and future sample-return missions. A stereo camera pair and precision tool were added to the arm system to investigate precision vision-guided manipulation. A prototype scoop was attached to a modular arm for autonomous lunar/Mars trenching and scooping technology development.