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Toolbox Design to Demonstrate Application-Specific Configurable Space Robots Using Modular Components

Roland Sonsalla; Henning Wiedemann; Wiebke Brinkmann; Priyanka Chowdhury; Malte Langosz; Marko Jankovic; Christopher Schulz; Tobias Stark; Niklas Alexander Mulsow; Daniel Pizzutilo; Leonard Maisch; Patrick Schöberl
In: 73rd International Astronautical Congress 2022. International Astronautical Congress (IAC-2022), September 18-22, Paris, France, International Astronautical Federation (IAF), Paris, 9/2022.


In many space activities, robotic systems are indispensable. Existing systems are mission-specific in order to meet the individual needs. Rather than creating separate highly specialized systems, the goal is to create specialized and standardized modules that can be (re-)combined to configure a robot for certain tasks, hence greatly decreasing development work. This is where the MODKOMproject (Modular Components as Building Blocks for Application-specific Configurable Space Robots) is heading, with the goal of creating a modular building block system that incorporates both specially produced components based on a standardized building block system and industrial third-party commercial off-the-shelf components. A software toolkit is developed in addition to the development of mechatronic and software modules for operation, helping non-expert users put those modular functional parts together to form robotic systems. Modules for system configuration (offline) and modules for system reconfiguration (online) are the two tiers of modules that the building block systematic distinguishes. To connect the toolkit modules, two types of interfaces are used: an active standard interconnect, which allows mechanical and electrical connection as well as data transfer, and a passive inter-module-interface, which allows the interconnection of atomic modules for configuring and assembling the system or greater modules. The efficiency of the system developed in MODKOM will be demonstrated by building a complex mobile manipulation system entirely out of the robotic assembly kit. As a result, a manipulator based on the toolkit’s basic modules will be combined alongside a stationary modular platform and a mobile roving platform. The development of new systems based on modular payload components from the toolkit will then be accomplished using the manipulator, which will also be used to modify the built-in systems with additional function blocks. The purpose of the performance demonstration is to use the manipulator’s end effector to interchange modules for reconfiguration, demonstrating the modular system’s capability. Finally, the outcomes of MODKOM will assist in the future by creating modules and standards that can be quickly and easily modified to meet new or changing requirements.


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