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Front. Robot. AI | doi: 10.3389/frobt.2018.00115

Repeated Impact-based Capture of a Spinning Object by a Dual-Arm Space Robot

 Kenji Nagaoka1*, Ryota Kameoka1 and  Kazuya Yoshida1
  • 1Tohoku University, Japan

This paper presents detumbling and capture of space debris by a dual-arm space robot for active space debris removal missions. Space debris, such as a malfunctioning satellite or a rocket upper stage, often has uncontrolled tumbling motion. It also has uncertainties in its parameters, such as inertial characteristics or surface frictional roughness. These factors make the debris capture missions difficult to accomplish. To cope with such challenging missions, we propose a detumbling and capture control method for a dual-arm robot based on repeated impact capable of suppressing the debris motion by repeatedly utilizing an effect of a passive damping factor in the contact characteristics. In this paper, as the initial step of a study on the repeated impact-based capture method, we assume that the capture target is a rocket upper stage that can be simply modeled as a cylindrical body and mainly has angular velocity motion in its principle axis of inertia. A motion tracking control law of an end-effector of the robot arm is introduced to maintain the repeated impact. The proposed control method enables the robot to accomplish the detumbling and capture without precise estimation of the inertial characteristics and surface frictional roughness of the debris. The validity of the proposed method is presented by numerical simulations and planar microgravity experiments using an air-floating system. In particular, the experimental evaluation shows the fundamental feasibility of the proposed method, and thus, the result contributes to a practical application.

Keywords: Dual-arm space robot, Repeated impact, detumbling of space debris, capture of space debris, Motion tracking control, experimental verification

Received: 12 Dec 2017; Accepted: 13 Sep 2018.

Edited by:

Markus Wilde, Florida Institute of Technology, United States

Reviewed by:

Josep Virgili Llop, Naval Postgraduate School, United States
Roberto Lampariello, Robotik und Mechatronik Zentrum, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), Germany  

Copyright: © 2018 Nagaoka, Kameoka and Yoshida. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Kenji Nagaoka, Tohoku University, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Japan, nagaoka@astro.mech.tohoku.ac.jp