Oceaneering Space Systems

Houston, TX, United States

Oceaneering Space Systems

Houston, TX, United States
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News Article | May 5, 2017
Site: techcrunch.com

Made In Space, Inc. is known as the company behind the 3D printers on board the International Space Station. Astronauts have used the startup’s AMF, or Additive Manufacturing Facility, on the ISS to churn out everything from finger splints to tools, sculptures and even other printer parts. Now, the company is revealing a video rendering of its larger Archinaut system, a factory in the sky operated by autonomous robots. The Archinaut can produce and assemble large equipment, such as satellites or even entire spacecraft, while in orbit. According to Made In Space CEO and president Andrew Rush, “It’s our ambition to develop the manufacturing technologies that will usher in the era of true commercial space utilization.” Literally, he is hoping to enable colonization of other planets, with millions of people living and working in beautiful, microgravity environments. The company believes, he said, “Manufacturing things in space lets us unlock possibilities you can’t when you have to design things to survive launch.” During launch, tremendous forces push down on any spacecraft and the people within, obviously. Rush added, “Any time you can pack more efficiently, and save mass, it helps make new missions possible or current missions more cost-effective.” Some of the biggest scientific and engineering challenges the company faced when developing the Archinaut were around material choices and hardware. The company had to determine which materials could be used for its own systems’ parts, as well as to be extruded by the system and assembled and used in space. “You have to figure out what can survive and provide good strength and longevity, while standing up to wild temperature swings, radiation and atomic oxygen environments which try to eat away at your parts,” Rush said. On the hardware side, the company couldn’t simply mimic 3D printer designs that work well on earth. Those are typically built as boxes that pump out items smaller than their own build area. “It’s simply not an option to fly a 50-meter cube to space to print out 20-meter satellite reflectors,” Rush said. Instead, the company devised what it calls ESAMM, an “extended structure additive manufacturing machine.” In essence, it works like a team in a glassblowing studio who move around manipulating materials while they are still pliable, and then assemble and sometimes fuse or bolt large pieces together. Rush described it as a kind of “inside out” printer that doesn’t have a limited build area. The printer (reflected in the video embedded here) is about the size of a school kid’s backpack, and can manufacture a truss structure that’s several meters long, or even longer, if users kept adding feedstock to it. The company is agnostic about where material feedstock comes from. Its systems can make use of in situ resources like material mined from asteroids or recycled space debris. A NASA-funded project, the Archinaut Development Program also involves Northrop Grumman and Oceaneering Space Systems as subcontractors. Currently, the company has built one Archinaut system for a commercial customer that it does not yet have permission to name. It has the ambition to fly more missions and build more Archinaut systems in the near future. With 40 full-time employees based at the NASA Ames Research Center in San Jose, Calif., Made In Space has never taken on venture funding. But the company has been profitable every year since it was founded in 2010, which may surprise some of the new space startups still finding their way. Why not raise equity funding? “As we were getting started, we realized we were on a really big mission, to help people live and work in space,” said Rush. “We think this is a long-term vision. And given the complexity and scope of the work this will take, it would be hard to promise VCs a return for their investment along the traditional time frame.”


Hart S.,TRACLabs Inc. | Dinh P.,Oceaneering Space Systems | Hambuchen K.,NASA
Proceedings - IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation | Year: 2015

This paper introduces the Affordance Template ROS package for quickly programming, adjusting, and executing robot applications in the ROS RViz environment. This package extends the capabilities of RViz interactive markers [1] by allowing an operator to specify multiple end-effector waypoint locations and grasp poses in object-centric coordinate frames and to adjust these waypoints in order to meet the run-time demands of the task (specifically, object scale and location). The Affordance Template package stores task specifications in a robot-agnostic JSON description format such that it is trivial to apply a template to a new robot. As such, the Affordance Template package provides a robot-generic ROS tool appropriate for building semi-autonomous, manipulation-based applications. Affordance Templates were developed by the NASA-JSC DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) team and have since successfully been deployed on multiple platforms including the NASA Valkyrie and Robonaut 2 humanoids, the University of Texas Dreamer robot and the Willow Garage PR2. In this paper, the specification and implementation of the affordance template package is introduced and demonstrated through examples for wheel (valve) turning, pick-and-place, and drill grasping, evincing its utility and flexibility for a wide variety of robot applications. © 2015 IEEE.


Cooper B.L.,Oceaneering Space Systems | McKay D.S.,NASA | Taylor L.A.,University of Tennessee at Knoxville | Kawamoto H.,Waseda University | And 2 more authors.
Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Engineering, Science, Construction, and Operations in Challenging Environments - Earth and Space 2010 | Year: 2010

The Lunar Airborne Dust Toxicity Assessment Group (LADTAG) is working to determine the permissible limits for exposure to lunar dust. This standard will guide the design of airlocks and ports for EVA, as well as the requirements for filtering and monitoring the atmosphere in habitable vehicles and other modules. Rodent toxicity testing will be done using the respirable fraction of actual lunar soils (particles with physical size of less than 2.5 micrometers). We are currently separating this fine material from the coarser material that comprises >95% of the mass of each soil sample. Sieving is not practical in this size range, so a new system was developed for this task. Collection and separation efficiencies are tracked as development and tests proceed. LADTAG's recommendation for permissible exposure limits will be delivered to the Constellation Program in 2010. © 2010 ASCE.


Badger J.,NASA | Throop D.,Boeing Company | Claunch C.,Oceaneering Space Systems
2014 IEEE 22nd International Requirements Engineering Conference, RE 2014 - Proceedings | Year: 2014

Requirements are a part of every project life cycle; everything going forward in a project depends on them. The VARED tool chain aims to provide an integrated environment to analyze and verify the requirements and early design of a system. Natural language requirements are processed automatically into formal specifications using a state model of the system under design and its environment. The specifications are formally checked and then are used to verify the controller model meets the requirements. © 2014 IEEE.


Platt Jr. R.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Ihrke C.,General Motors | Bridgewater L.,NASA | Linn D.,General Motors | And 4 more authors.
Proceedings - IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation | Year: 2011

It is frequently accepted that tactile sensing must play a key role in robust manipulation and assembly. The potential exists to complement the gross shape information that vision or range sensors can provide with fine-scale information about the texture, stiffness, and shape of the object grasped. Nevertheless, no widely accepted tactile sensing technology currently exists for robot hands. Furthermore, while several proposals exist in the robotics literature regarding how to use tactile sensors to improve manipulation, there is little consensus. This paper describes the electro-mechanical design of the Robonaut 2 phalange load cell. This is a miniature load cell suitable for mounting on the phalanges of humanoid robot fingers. The important design characteristics of these load cells are the shape of the load cell spring element and the routing of small-gauge wires from the sensor onto a circuit board. The paper reports results from a stress analysis of the spring element and establishes the theoretical sensitivity of the device to loads in different directions. The paper also compares calibrated load cell data to ground truth load measurements for four different manufactured sensors. Finally, the paper analyzes the response of the load cells in the context of a flexible materials localization task. © 2011 IEEE.


Platt Jr. R.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Permenter F.,Oceaneering Space Systems | Pfeiffer J.,Purdue University
IEEE Transactions on Robotics | Year: 2011

Localization and manipulation of features such as buttons, snaps, or grommets embedded in fabrics and other flexible materials is a difficult robotics problem. Approaches that rely too much on sensing and localization that occurs before touching the material are likely to fail because the flexible material can move when the robot actually makes contact. This paper experimentally explores the possibility to use proprioceptive and load-based tactile information to localize features embedded in flexible materials during robot manipulation. In our experiments, Robonaut 2, a robot with human-like hands and arms, uses particle filtering to localize features based on proprioceptive and tactile measurements. Our main contribution is to propose a method to interact with flexible materials that reduces the state space of the interaction by forcing the material to comply in repeatable ways. Measurements are matched to a haptic map, which is created during a training phase, that describes expected measurements as a low-dimensional function of state. We evaluate localization performance when using proprioceptive information alone and when tactile data are also available. The two types of measurements are shown to contain complementary information. We find that the tactile measurement model is critical to localization performance and propose a series of models that offer increasingly better accuracy. Finally, this paper explores the localization approach in the context of two flexible material insertion tasks that are relevant to manufacturing applications. © 2011 IEEE.


Abdallah M.E.,General Motors | Hargrave B.,Oceaneering Space Systems | Permenter F.,Oceaneering Space Systems
Proceedings - IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation | Year: 2012

Conventionally, tendon-driven manipulators implement some force-based controller using either tension feedback or dynamic models of the actuator. The force control allows the system to maintain proper tensions on the tendons. In some cases, whether it is due to the lack of tension feedback or actuator torque control, a purely position-based controller is needed. This work compares three position controllers for tendon-driven manipulators that implement a nested actuator position controller. A new controller is introduced that achieves the best overall performance with regards to speed, accuracy, and transient behavior. To compensate for the lack of tension control, the controller nominally maintains the internal tension on the tendons through a range-space constraint on the actuator positions. These control laws are validated experimentally on the Robonaut-2 humanoid hand. © 2012 IEEE.


Rea R.,Oceaneering Space Systems | Beck C.,Oceaneering Space Systems | Rovekamp R.,Oceaneering Space Systems | Diftler M.,NASA | Neuhaus P.,Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition
AIAA SPACE 2013 Conference and Exposition | Year: 2013

Bone density loss and muscle atrophy are among the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) highest concerns for crew health in space. Countless hours are spent maintaining an exercise regimen aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to counteract the effect of zero-gravity. Looking toward the future, NASA researchers are developing new compact and innovative exercise technologies to maintain crew health as missions increase in length and take humans further out into the solar system. The X1 Exoskeleton, initially designed for assisted mobility on Earth, was quickly theorized to have far-reaching potential as both an in-space countermeasures device and a dynamometry device to measure muscle strength. This lower-extremity device has the ability to assist or resist human movement through the use of actuators positioned at the hips and knees. Multiple points of adjustment allow for a wide range of users, all the while maintaining correct joint alignment. This paper discusses how the X1 Exoskeleton may fit NASA's on-orbit countermeasures needs.


Diftler M.A.,NASA | Mehling J.S.,NASA | Abdallah M.E.,General Motors | Radford N.A.,NASA | And 10 more authors.
Proceedings - IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation | Year: 2011

NASA and General Motors have developed the second generation Robonaut, Robonaut 2 or R2, and it is scheduled to arrive on the International Space Station in early 2011 and undergo initial testing by mid-year. This state of the art, dexterous, anthropomorphic robotic torso has significant technical improvements over its predecessor making it a far more valuable tool for astronauts. Upgrades include: increased force sensing, greater range of motion, higher bandwidth, and improved dexterity. R2's integrated mechatronic design results in a more compact and robust distributed control system with a fraction of the wiring of the original Robonaut. Modularity is prevalent throughout the hardware and software along with innovative and layered approaches for sensing and control. The most important aspects of the Robonaut philosophy are clearly present in this latest model's ability to allow comfortable human interaction and in its design to perform significant work using the same hardware and interfaces used by people. The following describes the mechanisms, integrated electronics, control strategies, and user interface that make R2 a promising addition to the Space Station and other environments where humanoid robots can assist people. © 2011 IEEE.


Abdallah M.E.,General Motors | Platt Jr. R.,NASA | Wampler C.W.,General Motors | Hargrave B.,Oceaneering Space Systems
2010 10th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots, Humanoids 2010 | Year: 2010

Existing tendon-driven fingers have applied force control through independent tension controllers on each tendon, i.e. in the tendon-space. The coupled kinematics of the tendons, however, cause such controllers to exhibit a transient coupling in their response. This problem can be resolved by alternatively framing the controllers in the joint-space of the manipulator. This work presents a joint-space torque control law that demonstrates both a decoupled and significantly faster response than an equivalent tendon-space formulation. The law also demonstrates greater speed and robustness than comparable PI controllers. In addition, a tension distribution algorithm is presented here to allocate forces from the joints to the tendons. It allocates the tensions so that they satisfy both an upper and lower bound, and it does so without requiring linear programming or open-ended iterations. The control law and tension distribution algorithm are implemented on the robotic hand of Robonaut-2. ©2010 IEEE.

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