The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have funded Energid Technologies Corporation to develop a proxy digital simulation for lunar and planetary rovers.
To calculate contact among bodies and modeling interactions, the new proxy simulation uses a novel architecture. Algorithm being an especially important component, it allows each type of interaction to use a different algorithm. Two-year funding for this effort follows Energid's demonstration of the viability of simulating a rover and integrating with NASA's tools, during a six-month proof-of-concept effort. Using Energid's existing software, the approach relies on new modeling algorithms.
"There is no universal robotics simulation algorithm," said Chalongrath Pholsiri, principal engineer at Energid Technologies. "A wheel rotating against soft soil or regolith responds differently from a metal body striking a rock. We have many powerful technologies to apply to create the proxy simulation for NASA and we will discover more over the next two years."
The computational methods developed by Energid are now being applied for NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. National Science Foundation. The development will leverage Energid's Actin and Selectin commercial robotics software tool kits, which have been used to design, control, and simulate many advanced robotic systems, the company stated in a press release.
With a field test typically involving 10-20 scientists and controllers, 10-20 operators, and a remote team of 10-20 that travels to a remote location that has terrain matching the needs of the test, usually in a desert, the IRG at Ames conducts field tests to prepare for lunar and planetary robotic missions.
In June 2009, the company entered into a partnership with Schunk GmbH and launched their advanced control and simulation software, Actin. Designed for Schunk’s modular robotic arms, this generic software removes the complexity involved in controlling the arms. This capability allows the developers to focus on hand (or gripper) placement instead on joint placement. The software can control any configuration created with Schunk modular components.
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Edited by Jamie Epstein