Design and development of a gecko-adhesive gripper for the astrobee free-flying robot

designdevelopment.pdf (3.0 MB)

NASA’s New Flying Robots Will Be Busy Bees


Assistive free-flying robots are a promising platform for supporting and working alongside astronauts in carrying out tasks that require interaction with the environment. However, current free-flying robot platforms are limited by existing manipulation technologies in being able to grasp and manipulate surrounding objects. Instead, gecko inspired adhesives offer many advantages for an alternate grasping and manipulation paradigm for use in assistive free-flyer applications. In this work, we present the design of a gecko-inspired adhesive gripper for performing perching and grasping maneuvers for the Astrobee robot, a free-flying robot currently operating on-board the International Space Station. We present software and hardware integration details for the gripper units that were launched to the International Space Station in 2019 for in-flight experiments with Astrobee. Finally, we present preliminary results for on-ground experiments conducted with the gripper and Astrobee on a free-floating spacecraft test bed.

This academic paper features our DYNAMIXEL all-in-one smart actuators

All credit goes to: Abhishek Cauligi, Tony G. Chen, Srinivasan A. Suresh, Michael Dille, Ruben Garcia Ruiz, Andres Mora Vargas, Marco Pavone and Mark R. Cutkosky from Stanford University, USA 2Intelligent Robotics and Astrobee Facilities Groups, and NASA Ames Research Center