Title: Bio-inspired approach for a space manipulator to capture a tumbling object with minimal impact force

Authors: Angel Flores-Abad; Ou Ma

Addresses: Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, New Mexico State University, 1040 South Horseshoe, Jett Hall 111, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA ' Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, New Mexico State University, 1040 South Horseshoe, Jett Hall 111, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA

Abstract: This paper presents a bio-inspired methodology aimed at achieving minimal impact force to the robot and the base satellite during a robotic capturing task for a satellite on-orbit servicing mission. First, from the assumed visual observation of the target satellite's motion, an optimal time and target configuration for the capturing operation are obtained. The optimal time is a future time such that, when the robot touches the tumbling object, there will be zero or minimal attitude disturbance in the base satellite. Second, tau theory is employed to plan an end-effector motion trajectory which will be used to guide the robot to reach the target at the optimal time. Tau theory is utilised because it has been found to be the natural way that a human arm and some animals use to reach an object for capture, thus it has been optimised through the natural evolution and is worthy of study. Two simulation examples are given to show the performance of the presented methodology and comparisons with a traditional path planning method are discussed. A comparison of the method with a traditional path planning method is also discussed.

Keywords: space manipulators; path planning; bio-inspired computation; tau theory; object capture; tumbling objects; minimal impact force; robot capture; base satellite; capturing tasks; satellites; on-orbit servicing missions; end-effector motion; motion trajectory; simulation; robot motion; robot control; satellite servicing.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMRS.2013.057316

International Journal of Mechanisms and Robotic Systems, 2013 Vol.1 No.4, pp.331 - 348

Available online: 22 Oct 2013 *

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