A robot is a machine capable of automatically executing complex tasks. Each robot is specifically designed to do one or more particular tasks. Robots may be controlled by a human with a control device, by a computer to which it is connected, or they may be completely autonomous and decide by themselves when to do what. Autonomous robots may even learn each time they perform a task.
Exploration is probably the field of study where the role of robotics is most important. No human has ever gone further than the Moon, still, thanks to Space Robotics, thousands of scientist have explored Mars, a planet millions of kilometres away from any place where anyone has ever been. And even where the human kind has actually been exploring the space in person, like in the Moon or in the International Space Station (ISS), Space Robotics was there, paving the way.
Space Robotics has two main areas of interest: Orbital Robotics and Planetary Rovers & Landers. Orbital Robotics is specialized on autonomus task in scenarios with no gravity, such as International Space Station (ISS) operations and satellite servicing. Planetary Rovers, on the other hand, are designed to operate in the surface of the planets and moons of the Solar System. Some scenarios such as asteroid and comet exploration have environments with low gravity which may blur the distinctions between these categories.
The Space Industry manufactures extremely complex and delicate machinery, for this reason, many tasks regarding satellite servicing and operations in the ISS can not easily be done by humans. Moreover, space is a hostile environment, and this tasks may be dangerous and not adequate for us. Robotic solutions are a great choice to overcome this complicated situations. In addition to difficult and risky operations, some tasks that must be done in space are exigent and repetitive. Robots may also be useful with these.
For Orbital Robotics, the space environment (no gravity, high radiation levels, extreme thermal changes, etc.) poses unique challenges to these robot’s design and manufacturing. Each part, each piece, each subsystem must be conceived to survive and operate in space. And the challenge does not end here, the robot’s brain, all the software that will control the movements and operations of the robot has to be specially designed for space too. Despite this challenges, in space, robots are used every day, and its importance is expected to increase in the coming years.
In addition to the usual considerations in robot design such as power sources, control interfaces, electromechanical design, etc. the orbital robotics sector as its own particular concerns like micro-gravity locomotion, thermal considerations, radiation resistance and many more. For these reasons its important to carefully choose appropriate materials, structures, designs and protocols for these special machines.
If you are thinking about a possible orbital robotic solution, consider contacting us through the form below and our expert team will study the circumstances of your case and create a robot, robotic component or robotic software for you.
Planetary Rovers & Landers
Like space, other planets than Earth are hostile environments too, and sending astronauts to explore them has so far been too risky. Once again robots are the best choice to overcome this impediment. For example, many of the things we know about Mars have been discovered by Mars Rovers that autonomously move and investigate in this planet’s surface. Its foreseen that more Rovers will be sent in the near future to keep exploring new worlds, and even when we are ready to send astronauts to other planets, human-robot cooperation will be essential for these mission’s success.
Planetary Rovers also present unique challenges. Automatic landings in other planets that cause no damage to the payload are no easy task. Once in the surface, the robot must face harmful weather conditions in unpredictable atmospheres. And even with the best conditions, there are always bug uncertainties when interacting with an unexplored natural terrain. Important concerns when designing Planetary Rovers include:
- Sensing and perception for planetary exploration, including terrain-relative precision position estimation.
- Above-surface, surface, and sub-surface planetary mobility, possibly from novel vehicle design concepts.
- Command and control with limited bandwidth, often precluding teleoperation and requiring autonomous surface operations, with natural terrain navigation and manipulation.
We rely on a team of expert engineers capable of creating robots, robotic components and robotic software solutions to operate in other planets. Moreover we have a long experience in building customized scaled models to test prototypes of new technologies and software in simulated conditions in Earth.
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