On-Orbit Demonstration of Tether-Based Robot Locomotion in REX-J Mission
Hiroki Nakanishi*1, Mitsuhiro Yamazumi*1, Sotaro Karakama*1, Mitsushige Oda*1, Shin-ichiro Nishida*2, Hiroki Kato*3, Keisuke Watanabe*3, Atsushi Ueta*3, Masahiro Yoshii*4, and Satoshi Suzuki*4
*1Tokyo Institute of Technology
2-12-1 Oookayama, Meguro, Tokyo 152-8550, Japan
4-101 Koyamacho-Minami, Tottori, Tottori 680-8552, Japan
*3Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
2-1-1 Sengen, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8505, Japan
*4Advanced Engineering Service Co., Ltd.
1-6-1 Takezono, Tsukuba-shi, Ibaraki 305-0032, Japan
Locomotion is an important factor affecting astronaut support robots that are used in construction, repair, and inspection. Its requirements include long reach, compactness, and light weight. Tether is a good candidate because it allows for a long reach but is very light. It is also compact when wound up. The authors have previously proposed a reconfigurable tether-based locomotion method. In the concept, the robot attaches/detaches its tethers to/from handrails on the spacecraft and moves by controlling the length and tension of the tethers. From August 2012 to May 2013, JAXA conducted the Robot Experiment on JEM (REX-J) mission, experimentally demonstrating the proposed method on the International Space Station. During the experiment, all the locomotion tasks were successfully completed. This paper describes the results of these locomotion experiments.
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