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Research Tasks

Risk Reduction for Robotic In Space Telescope Assembly Concept

Risk Reduction for Robotic In Space Telescope Assembly Concept
Conceptual steps in the assembly process.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is conducting a risk reduction experiment to demonstrate feasibility of a revolutionary approach for in-space construction of large (10-100+m) apertures that would be robotically assembled from modular components. In our approach, the structure would be made from modular and identical deployable components that could be launched separately. These components have in-built structural and power inter-connects as well as self-alignment capabilities. These components would be assembled using supervised autonomy by a limbed robot similar to the RoboSimian robot that successfully participated in the DARPA Robotics Challenge. The mirror segments are also modular and self-contained units with inbuilt actuators and avionics such that they could also be robotically assembled onto the truss.

In the proposed work, we will demonstrate several key component technologies: (i) modular structural elements with power and structural inter-connects that have self-contained alignment ability; and (ii) in-lab demonstration of supervised autonomy based robotic assembly of these modular elements into a 3m, truss in a closed-ring configuration to centimeter-level flatness. The robotic assembly uses a mobile robot and dual handed manipulation. We will develop, beyond their current state, new technologies for continuous estimation in dynamic conditions, motion planning for dual handed manipulation of large objects, autonomous coordination between mobility and manipulation in assembling the 1m size truss modules, autonomous force control and precise adjustment of structures, and vision based pose estimation for mobility and manipulation, among other autonomy technology components. We anticipate this risk reduction experiment could enable transition to potential future missions including large optical apertures, large radars, supply storage and supply stations among others for DARPA, DoD and NASA.
Point of Contact: Rudranarayan Mukherjee
Sponsored By: DARPA