CubeSat Robot Designed for Disaster Relief

CubeSat Robot Designed for Multiple Uses

Have you ever wanted to build a multipurpose robot?  A robot that would do many things well here’s someone who’s done this this robot is based on the design of a CubeSat. CubeSats are small satellites built in the shape of a cube. This project is called the Rapidly Deployable Automation System or RDAS.

Are you interested in a project where human tele-operational control of a robot rover is possible with a hands-free wearable headband that tracks the human’s head movements, thus moving the robot?

These small spacecraft were originally designed as an inexpensive alternative for opening up space exploration too many opportunities that would not necessarily take place with the more expensive satellite technology. Another reason for developing these CubeSats was to push the technology to see what could be accomplished in a very small inexpensive platform.

CubeSat Design History

One of the first examples of a CubeSat was the Vermont Lunar CubeSat. The ambitious goal of this project is to develop a cube sat that will eventually orbit the moon. The initial satellite, which cost about $50,000 and funded in part by a grant from NASA, served as a test bed model for spacecraft navigation and guidance.

A CubeSat (U-class spacecraft)[1] is a type of miniaturized satellite for space research that usually has a volume of exactly one liter (10 cm cube), has a mass of no more than 1.33 kilograms,[2] and typically uses commercial off-the-shelf components for its electronics.

Vermont Lunar CubeSat

“Vermont Lunar CubeSat” by Cbrandonvt – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons

The eventual goal of the project is to build a CubeSat capable of orbiting the moon.  It was launched on November 19, 2013 from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia as part of a payload containing two NASA, 11 university, one high school and 14 Air Force CubeSats.

Rapidly Deployable Automation System

The CubeSat robot developed by “Erin RobotGrrl” is a 3-D printed bot made of both rigid and flexible materials and is equipped with hinges which allows it to fold into a cube. This robot is designed for a number of task. Some of those task include monitoring of natural disasters, exploration, and remote measurements of the environment.

One very interesting component of the project is the unique 3-D printed headset. The headset is used to control and operate the cube shaped robot. One future possibility for this little robot could be the exploration of the surface of Mars.

Let me know what you think about this.  Leave a comment.

Source: 3D Printed CubeSat Robot is Controlled with a Headband And Could Tackle Natural Disaster Relief

Robots That Can Be Controlled From Orbit

Photo Credit:  NASA

Robots have long been the pathfinders for the exploration of space.  Surveyor landers went to the surface of the Moon to test out the surface before men walked on it.  Mars has been host to a number of robotic explorers paving the way for future human landings there.  Even when people finally get to orbit the Red Planet, they will probably want to send out robotic probes to test out the expected landing sites first.  This technology might even find its way to planets or moons outside our solar system.  To do this, the astronauts will need to control the robots from orbit.  This is the purpose of a new rover being developed by the European Space Agency.  Read the article at the link below for more details.

Experts with the European Space Agency (ESA) announce the creation of a new rover, which is meant to act as a testbed for a new remote-control technology. Astronauts in low-Earth orbit (LEO) will control the machine through specialized, exoskeleton-like …

Controlling Robots on Exoplanets from Orbit – Softpedia
Wed, 06 Jul 2011 18:33:31 GMT

NASA Plans for Space Robotics Team

Robonaut 2 and Robonaut 2

Photo Credit:  Courtesy NASA

So, imagine a team of robots – all kinds of robots – some with wheels, some bipedal, some that fly.  Now imagine those robots working as partners with astronauts on some future space mission.  This may be on an asteroid or maybe even Mars. 

Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) already work with robots, mostly in the form of robotic arms, to accomplish their tasks, so this in not a far-fetched concept.  Robonaut 2, shown in the photo above, will soon fly on the ISS to demonstrate that  NASA-developed space robots  can work closely with their human team members in space exploration.

In this story from Computerworld, written by Sharon Gaudin, robots are seen as full partners in space exploration.  What do you think of this?  Will humans need robotic companions on space missions?  This seems like a good bet since robots already play an essential role in current space activities.  Read the story at the link below.

That's the image that a lot of the U.S. space agency's engineers have in mind as they work on the new robotic rovers, said Terry Fong, director of NASA's intelligent robotics group. In comparison, the Mars rovers on the Red Planet have been working alone for years.

"We're working on a new use of these robots — robots to support human exploration," Fong told Computerworld this week. "NASA is now thinking, 'How do you go about sending humans to the moon or Mars or elsewhere? How can you use the combination of humans and robots to do exploration better?' I think it's a really, really fundamentally different approach."

NASA official outlines plan for next-generation space robots – Computerworld

Lunar Roving Russian Robot Found After 37 Years

A Russian robot rover has been photographed from lunar orbit after 37 years.  The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) imaged the area on one of its orbits of the Moon.  Then, Phil Stooke, a researcher from The University of Western Ontario, solved a 37-year-old space mystery using lunar images released yesterday by NASA and maps from his own atlas of the moon.  Lunokhod 2 stands 4 ft 5 in high and is about 5 ft 7 in long and 4 ft 11 in wide, and it shows up clearly in the overhead photo.  For mobility, it used 8 independently powered wheels.

As explained on the Wikipedia site, “Lunokhod 2 was equipped with three television cameras, one mounted high on the rover for navigation, which could return high resolution images.  These images were used by a five-man team of controllers on Earth who sent driving commands to the rover in real time. Power was supplied by a solar panel on the inside of a round hinged lid which covered the instrument bay, which would charge the batteries when opened. A polonium-210 radioisotope heater unit was used to keep the rover warm during the long lunar nights.  After landing, the Lunokhod 2 took TV images of the surrounding area, then rolled down a ramp to the surface at 01:14 UT on January 16 and took pictures of the Luna 21 lander and landing site, driving for 30 meters. After a period of charging up its batteries, it took more pictures of the site and the lander, and then set off to explore the moon.

The rover would run during the lunar day, stopping occasionally to recharge its batteries with the solar panels. At night the rover hibernated until the next sunrise, heated by the radioactive source.”

This rugged robot still holds the record for distance driven on another planetary body.  It covered about 23 miles on its lunar trek.  By comparison, the Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, has traveled just over 12 miles. 

It is easy to forget sometimes that robots have been exploring space for decades, and although today’s machines are more capable in some ways, the explorer robots of the past accomplished some amazing feats considering the technology of the times.  You can read the complete story at the site linked to at the bottom of the page.  You can also click on the photo below for the article.

 LRO_Lunokhod_2

Photo Credit:  NASA

A Canadian researcher has helped solve a 37-year-old space mystery using lunar images released by NASA and maps from an atlas of the moon.

Russian lunar rover found: 37-year-old space mystery solved
(author unknown)
Wed, 17 Mar 2010 18:00:00 GMT

Mars Rover Spirit Update

In an update of the Mars rover's situation, the flight controllers have indicated that the plans will switch to surviving the upcoming Martian winter rather than trying to extricate Spirit from the sand trap where it is stuck.  The story from Cosmic Log is linked to below.  Follow that link to read the post. 

    "Right now the rover is embedded … we do not believe it's extractable," Doug     McCuistion, director of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, said today during a     teleconference. "Right now the worry is about getting through the winter."

via cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com

Trying to Dig Out, Mars Robot Digs Into a Discovery

Sometimes the biggest discoveries come through by accident.  Spirit, the Mars robotic rover stuck in a patch of loose Martian soil, has churned–up something interesting.  Bright, fluffy material covered by a dark crust.  To see what this might mean, check out the article from PhysOrg.com.

sandtrappedr

Credit: JPL/NASA via PhysOrg

Spirit surveys its own predicament. The bright soil pictured left is loose, fluffy material churned by the rover's left-front wheel as Spirit, driving backwards, broke through a darker, crusty surface. At right is the least-embedded of the rover's …

Sandtrapped Rover Makes a Big Discovery – PhysOrg
(author unknown)
Thu, 03 Dec 2009 21:45:00 GMT

Robot Battalions Will Explore the Solar System

Up to this point in space exploration, robots have been solitary explorers commanded ultimately from Earth.  Sure, they may have used other spacecraft for communication relays as some Mars landers have done, but they have not been controlled by other machines.  Now, that may be changing.  As this story from the Telegraph states, “Robotic airships and satellites will fly above the surface of the distant world, commanding squadrons of wheeled rovers and floating robot boats, according to Wolfgang Fink of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).”  Robots will use networks to control other robots.  This will allow redundancy in the operations.  Cheap rovers and flyers can be deployed to explore the surface, while an orbiting spacecraft oversees the operations.  In order for this to work, the controlling robots must have the ability to make intelligent choices of where to send its minions or when to shut down a malfunctioning bot.  Prof Fink, director of Caltech's Visual and Autonomous Exploration Systems Research Laboratory, is leading his team in “developing software that would let a robotic explorer act independently and as part of a network. They would select priorities for exploration and anticipate and handle problems on their own.” 

Papers describing this new exploration are published in the journal Computer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine and in the Proceedings of the SPIE.  For more information on this work, visit http://autonomy.caltech.edu .  You can find information on JPL missions is at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/ .

Story is adapted from materials at Telegraph.co.uk, Science Daily and NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Telegraph.co.uk

Alien worlds may be explored by armies of flying, driving and sailing robots, say scientists.

By Tom Chivers

Robotic airships and satellites will fly above
See all stories on this topic

Robot armies 'will explore alien worlds'
Telegraph.co.uk
Wed, 28 Oct 2009 10:19:37 GMT

Robot Crawls the Seafloor to Explore Life

From New Scientist comes this story about a deep sea rover, called Benthic Rover, that is exploring the ocean’s depths.  Hard to believe that we know less about the ocean floor than is known about the surface of Mars.  This automobile-sized robot, developed by the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), is attempting to change that by traveling across the abyssal seafloor. In order to achieve this feat, engineers had to overcome several challenges.  Obviously, the biggest barrier to this type of exploration is the extreme pressure at depth.  To protect the sensitive electronics systems, custom titanium spheres were built to contain them.  In order to keep from sinking in the muddy seafloor, special flotation devices allow the rover to crawl across the marine sediment.  To prevent the tank-like threads on the robot from stirring up clouds of fine particles, a pair of off-the-shelf broom heads keep the threads clean. 

You can read all about this robot at the link below and at the New Scientist and at the MBARI website.

Benthic rover during test dive

Image: © 2007 MBARI

The Benthic Rover makes its way across the deep seafloor during a trial run in 2007. The "brains" of the vehicle are protected by a spherical titanium pressure housing. The orange and yellow objects are made of incompressible foam, whose buoyancy makes the Rover light enough underwater so that it won't sink into the soft deep-sea mud. 

Source: Monterrey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Like the robotic rovers Spirit and Opportunity, which wheeled tirelessly across the dusty surface of Mars, a new robot spent most of July traveling across the muddy ocean bottom, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) off the California coast. This robot, the Benthic Rover, has been providing scientists with an entirely new view of life on the deep seafloor. It will also give scientists a way to document the effects of climate change on the deep sea.

New Robot Travels Across The Seafloor To Monitor The Impact Of Climate Change On Deep-sea Ecosystems
Thu, 10 Sep 2009 18:00:00 GMT

Robotic Grasshopper May Help Explore Mars Surface

This robot can jump like a grasshopper and roll like a tumbleweed.  It is called Jollbot and it may be headed to Mars someday.  Or it may help here on Earth in areas of rough terrain with jobs like surveying.  Going back to an article posted in December, 2008 at PhysOrg.com, the researchers believe this is the first robot that can both jump and roll.  This behavior can solve a problem that robotic explorers on other planets routinely face:  objects that are too large to roll over.  Nature again provides a model to solve a problem and create a new design in robotics.

rolling grasshopper robot

Image Credit:  Nic Delves-Broughton, University of Bath

The Jollbot was masterminded by Rhodri Armour, who spent a year building the robot with colleagues at the University of Bath. The robot, which can jump and roll, enjoys an edge over other machines due to its ability to launch itself over obstacles …

Robotic grasshopper to help explore Mars' rocky geography – New Kerala
Mon, 06 Jul 2009 08:44:00 GMT

RobotNext Weekly Newswrap

This week’s newswrap features stories that deal with exploration.  Everything from underwater to climate in the arctic and beyond the Earth.  One story from earlier in the week deals with robot navigation in different situations.  Still, this story does cover an aspect of robotics that is important in exploration.  I hope you enjoy looking over the articles linked to below.  Let me know which ones you liked best.

Underwater robots to rapidly identify potential threats in murky … – Newstrack India

Washington, July 5 (ANI): A team of scientists is developing novel underwater laser networking and imaging technologies that will be used onboard a group of small, co-operating robots, which will be able to rapidly identify and communicate potential …

Underwater robots to rapidly identify potential threats in murky … – Newstrack India
Sun, 05 Jul 2009 06:15:00 GMT

 

NASA Suggests Nano Robots To Explore Mars (Slashdot)

"'We're going to have to do extensive robotic exploration,' says the director of NASA's Ames Research Center, suggesting nanotechnology to build self-replicating robots on Mars. Genetically engineering extraction and construction microbes could 'grow' electrical components, and eventually convert carbon dioxide on Mars into oxygen. 'If we really want to settle Mars, and we …

NASA Suggests Nano Robots To Explore Mars (Slashdot)
Thu, 02 Jul 2009 13:36:25 GMT


Robots Monitor the Melting Arctic

Earlier this year NOAA warned that increased global warming was combining with natural variability in the Arctic and could result in an ice-free Arctic in as little as 30 years, rather than the end of the century as predict by earlier models. This has created a sense of urgency among organizations studying the changes. NOAA and NASA have combined forces with Northrop Grumman to create a specially modified Global Hawk UAV that will make 6 long duration mission over the Arctic and the Pacific ocean to collect data in troposphere and lower stratosphere. .

Meanwhile, Seaglider robots have been deployed off Greenland to make more accurate measurements of Arctic sea currents. Scientist believe the Arctic runoff is already altering the density of sea water in the Labrador Sea, driving critical ocean circulation that affect the global climate.  Canada is also deploying two AUVs to scan the seabed to further their claims in the coming UN Convention that will determine which nations get sovereign rights to the new ocean areas forming as the Arctic melts.

Robots Monitor the Melting Arctic
Wed, 01 Jul 2009 16:41:32 GMT


Human-like Vision Lets Robots Navigate Naturally

ScienceDaily (June 30, 2009) — A robotic vision system that mimics key visual functions of the human brain promises to let robots maneuver quickly and
See all stories on this topic

Human-like Vision Lets Robots Navigate Naturally
Science Daily (press release) – USA
Tue, 30 Jun 2009 15:48:20 GMT


Intelligent Robot Probes to Explore Beyond Mars

Caltech scientists are working on intelligent exploratory craft which could investigate alien worlds without human instruction. While missions to MARS can be remotely controlled, as we set our sights further afield the light speed
The Daily Galaxy: Great Discoveries… – http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/

Intelligent Robot Probes to Explore Beyond Mars
Casey Kazan Daily Galaxy Editorial Staff
Tue, 30 Jun 2009 22:11:52 GMT