Dexterous Robotics
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Click on the photos above for bigger versions of the images along with a description.

 

“All current experience indicates that teams of humans and robots, working cooperatively in an integrated work site, are the most capable and productive method for space operations.”


Dr. Dave Akin
Director, Space Systems Laboratory

 

Visitors are welcome to use any image found on these pages. Please use the following credit:
Space Systems Laboratory/University of Maryland

Welcome to the Space Systems Laboratory's dexterous robotics projects.

For the last 25 years, the University of Maryland Space Systems Laboratory (SSL) has been developing and testing robotic systems capable of performing complex end-to-end on-orbit spacecraft servicing tasks in a neutrally buoyant environment, as well performing integrated testing of humans and robots working cooperatively in the simulated space work site. This work has included the development of seven integrated telerobotic systems capable of tasks such as docking, assembly, inspection, maintenance, working with humans, and proximity operations.

On these pages you will find some of the exciting robotics projects that are currently underway in the SSL. Feel free to click on any of the projects listed above for more information. You might also visit our "Ask a Roboticist" page where you can submit a question to be answered by one of our robotics engineers or you can browse through answers to questions other visitors have asked. For an overview of the robotics work we have done in the past and continue to do, check out or best of gallery.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at .

What's New

Upcoming robotic tests:



[spring 06]
The SSL's space and robotics work is highlighted in "A Human Presence Across the Solar System," an article in the Engineering School's spring 2006 issue of E@M Magazine.

[Dec 05]
The SSL's work in support of the Hubble Robotic Servicing/Deorbit Mission was mentioned as part of the Intelligent Systems group's year-end write-up in the American Institute of Aeronatics and Astronautic's Aerospace America.

[1 Oct 05]
Graduate students Mike Naylor and Nick Scott win first place at the Infotech@Aerospace video competition in the "Most Innovative Other Vehicle or System" category.

[26-29 Sep 05]
Graduate students Mike Naylor and Nick Scott will present their work on vision systems and autonomy at Infotech@Aerospace. Thet also entered a video (5.6 Mb QuickTime) in a video competition. A version showing only the 1-g testing and the neutral buoyancy testing is also online.

[19 Sep 05]
SSL robotics lab to be part of the dedication of the new Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building. A photo taken in our lab during the dedication is online.

[Jun/Jul 05]
Dr, Akin, Stephen Roderick, and Ranger appear in "Robo Repairmen" in the June/July issue of Air & Space Magazine.

[28 Jun 05]
The ASTEP software team repeats the 1-g work they have done and used Ranger in its extended version to autonomously grab a duck. A video (2.5 Mb QuickTime) is online.

[20 May 05]
Ranger continues autonomy work underwater.

[6 May 2005]
Ranger was used as a platform to continue the SSL's investigation of human-robot interaction. A foot plate was attached to Ranger's body which allowed a diver simulating an astronaut as well as the SSL-developed Maryland Advanced Research/Simulation suit to work cooperatively with Ranger on the Hubble Space Telescope. Photos from the dive are online.

[8 Apr 05]
Photos from underwater calibrations of Ranger's cameras are online.

[29 Mar 05]
Ranger, the SSL, and Dr. Akin appear in "Robots in Space," a segment on PBS' The News Hour with Jim Lehrer


The Ranger Satellite Servicing System has undergone modifications to more closely simulate Canada's Dextre robot so that it can simulate servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Dives have been conducted over the last month in its new wide-body format.

[21 Mar 05]
video highlight of underwater robotic servicing of HST (32 Mb QuickTime)

[29 Apr 05]
WF/PC II

[20 Apr 05]
aft shroud and equipment section doors

[22 Mar 05]
COSTAR/COS

[16 Mar 05]
COSTAR/COS

[14 Mar 05]
FGS-2R/FGS-2004

[9 Mar 05]
wide field camera

[8 Mar 05]
COSTAR

[2 Mar 05]
COS/COSTAR

[25 Feb 05]
wide field camera

[23 Feb 05]
system checks

[21 Feb 05]
system checks

[18 Feb 05]
left arm balancing

[17 Feb 05]
extended body checks


[28 Jan 05]
Ranger Satellite Servicing System autonomously grabs an object! Click here for more details.

[25-26 Jan 05]
Underwater footage of the Ranger Satellite Servicing System performing neutral buoyancy simulations of the servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope will appear on the Discovery Science channel's special "Hubble and Beyond: Telescopes in Space." Check out the episode's web page for more information.

[13 Dec 04]
The SSL's robotics work is mentioned in "Exploring hidden campus technology", an article in The Diamondback, the campus newspaper.

[Fall 2004]
University of Maryland President Dr. Mote updates alumni about some of the research on campus including the work the SSL is doing for the HST robotic servicing mission. Watch the video.


The Ranger Satellite Servicing System has undergone modifications to simulate Canada's Dextre robot so that it can simulate servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Eleven dives have been conducted over the last month and photos from the dives are online.

[30 Nov 2004]
-V2 battery conduit

[24 Nov 2004]
-V2 battery conduit

[12 Nov 2004]
video highlight of underwater robotic servicing of HST (5.8 Mb QuickTime)

[12 Nov 2004]
aft shroud door opening

[4 Nov 2004]
+V2 battery conduit

[29 Oct 2004]
Wide Field Camera removal and insertion

[28 Oct 2004]
Wide Field Camera removal and insertion

[22 Oct 2004]
aft shroud door opening and axial instrument removal

[21 Oct 2004]
aft shroud door opening

[20 Oct 2004]
aft shroud door opening

[19 Oct 2004]
two extended dexterous arms with an extended leg

[19 Oct 2004]
extended right dexterous arm with an extended leg

[13 Oct 2004]
extended positioning leg

[8 Oct 2004]
extended right dexterous arm


[18 Aug 2004]
Photos from the Ranger Satellite Servicing System manipulation the Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field Camera III are online.

[29 Jul 2004]
Ranger Satellite Servicing System manipulates a Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field Camera III. Photos are online.

[16 Jul 2004]
Ranger Satellite Servicing System removes a Hubble Space Telescope axial instrument from a protective enclosure. Photos are online.

[30 Jun 2004]
Ranger Satellite Servicing System grasps and maneuvers a mock-up of the Hubble Space Telescope Faint Object Camera in the Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility. A "best of" photo is online along with all of the photos taken during the test.

[11 Jun 2004]
Neutral buoyancy evaluations of the Ranger right dexterous arm and positioning leg photos are online.

[7 Jun 2004]
Ranger mentioned in "Hubble's Hope: I, Robot,", an article in Time magazine.

[24 & 27 May 2004]
Ranger left and right dexterous arms perform tasks at the Navy Research Laboratory's Proximity Operations Test Facility. A 3 minute video (35 Mb QuickTime) and two time lapse clips of the test are online: clip #1 (2 Mb QuickTime) and clip #2 (2.5 Mb QuickTime). Photos are also online.


What's new archive

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last updated: 02 June 2006