Toolbox of Modular Components to Demonstrate Applicatio-Specific Configurable Space Robots
In 17th Symposium on Advanced Space Technologies in Robotics and Automation, (ASTRA-2023), 18.10.-20.10.2023, Leiden, ESA Publications Division-ESTEC, ESA-ESTEC, Keplerlaan 1
2201 AZ Noordwijk, The Netherlands, 2023. European Space Agency (ESA).
Robotic solutions are preferred in manned and unmanned space missions, especially for planetary exploration, e.g., due to lower risk and thus lower costs. The robotic systems that have been designed and used so far are specially adapted to the relevant mission and it is not considered to be used elsewhere after the mission is completed. However, the
MODKOM project pursues the approach of creating a toolbox that allows a robot to be configured and recombined for specific tasks from specialized and standardized building blocks, even after a mission has been completed. Ensuring mission assurance in mission-critical situations such as maintenance requirements as well as sustainment and reuse of resources. In addition to providing a set of these standardized modules, a software toolbox is developed alongside, which simplifies modular system design and creation also for non-experts. This includes adding new hardware parts via creating their simulation/control models as module representations to the corresponding component database. The toolbox consists of many modular components, like at least three payload modules, three basic modules, one manipulator, and multifunctional interconnects.
The advantage of these components is that they are scalable. Using an example of a manipulator arm, it can be shown that two different drives with different torques can be connected in various combinations.
There are extra adaptations and connecting elements enabling this feature. Other components include socalled base modules, which are functional on their own, as well as in combined form when assembled.
In this way, for example, a rover body can be assembled with the necessary electronics, computer units, etc., while maintaining the possibility of future reconfigurations/upgrades. Further components are, for example payload modules, which can extend the functions and tasks of a system or the DFKI X2D Joint, a direct-drive actuator made for future walk-
ing robots in space and as platform for high speed applications. The main piece that supports combination and extension is a multifunctional interconnect (EMI-MOD). Once a robotic system or subsystem is equipped with the EMI-MOD, it can be connected to other (sub)systems. With the help of the software toolbox all modular components can be represented,
stored and made available to the user. A user interface is provided to guide the user in handling the parts to eventually assemble them into a new system.
This paper presents the current status of the modular components, the resulting combination possibilities and the planned performance demonstration scenario, as well as results of the initial functional tests.