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RoboSimian’s Role on this Planet and Beyond, Utilizing ATI Force/Torque Sensors
Apex, NC , June 16, 2016
RoboSimian is a multi-limbed robot developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). This unique robot was designed to operate in environments too dangerous or difficult for human intervention, such as disaster areas and oil spills. RoboSimian utilizes ATI Force/Torque Sensors to provide accurate data, enabling stable movement and allowing the robot to apply the correct pressure to the objects around it while it moves. It navigates the terrain by using four ATI Six-Axis Force/Torque Sensors in the wrist and ankle joints allowing the robot to “feel” the terrain as it walks. Cameras and LIDAR capabilities provide a 3D map, which is sent back to the operator. The operator then decides RoboSimian’s direction. After years of engineering in the lab, JPL’s researchers have prepared the tele-operated RoboSimian for competition in the DARPA Robotics Challenge, and for use in new, complex environments from deep waters to outer space.

In fact, RoboSimian competed in the June 2015 DARPA Robotics Challenge, a contest consisting of several disaster-related tasks for robots to perform: driving and exiting a vehicle, opening a door, cutting a hole in a wall, opening a valve, crossing a field of debris, and climbing stairs. These abilities are valuable, especially for rescue tasks like the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Okuna, Japan - a disaster that could have been minimized by implementing this technology to twist a valve or flip a control switch. These simple tasks were not able to be performed by a human due to the radiation leak emitting from the damaged reactor.

The RoboSimian researchers at JPL are currently expanding the platform’s manipulation capabilities to include bi-manual motions - actions that require two hands working together in unison. Such capabilities are particularly helpful for jobs clearing rubble or assembling a construction truss. Researchers see many potential uses for RoboSimian in space, for possible use in exploration or on-orbit space assembly. The robot's platform could also be used in missions to Mars or other asteroids. One thing is for sure, the possibilities for RoboSimian and ATI are very exciting and inspire the imagination.

View more information on ATI Six-Axis Force/Torque Sensors here.

View an article on RoboSimian here.


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