Highly redundant modular robot systems for flexible use in spaceflight and automotive series production
In the HOMER funding project, highly redundant modular robot arms for space applications are being developed in cooperation with the Institute of Aerospace Systems (IRAS) at the Technical University of Braunschweig.
Robotic applications play a fundamental role in space travel. Robotic systems are not only used for exploration, but also for manufacturing, manipulation tasks, maintenance work, transport of astronauts and cargo, and docking of spacecraft and modules. Conventional robotic manipulators usually follow the same construction principle with serial kinematics and six to seven degrees of freedom. These are usually complex and cost-intensive. The HOMER concept, on the other hand, follows a light and compact robot with many joints of identical construction. It is optimized for use on very small satellites to enable robotic operations in space. The robot arm is hyper-redundant due to the large number of joints and can reach hard-to-reach places and avoid obstacles.
For further flexibility in use, the arm is modular. With the help of the iSSI (intelligent Space System Interface) interface developed within the iBOSS project at SLA, any number of modules can be combined to configure a robotic arm with any number of degrees of freedom. Furthermore, the modular design offers the possibility of autonomous reconfiguration. By adding and removing modules, the optimum combination of required reach and accuracy for the respective application can be generated. HOMER thus forms a highly redundant modular robot system which can be used not only in space travel. HOMER also offers a wide range of options for all types of robot-supported terrestrial applications. There is thus a high transfer potential to industrial series production, as significant savings can be expected from the higher availability of the systems, the higher degree of automation and thus also increased productivity.
To prove the feasibility on earth, the MARGE demonstrator with three degrees of freedom is being developed, manufactured and operated within the project at the SLA. This includes the determination of operating loads, design of the actuators, design of the joints as well as design and optimization of the structure.