NASA STTR 2009 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 09-2 T6.02-9912
RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE: Planetary Surface Analog Support Technologies
PROPOSAL TITLE: Scalable Gravity Offload System

NAME: Astrobotic Technology, Inc. NAME: Carnegie Mellon University
STREET: 4551 Forbes Avenue STREET: 5000 Forbes Avenue
CITY: Pittsburgh CITY: Pittsburgh
STATE/ZIP: PA  15213 - 3524 STATE/ZIP: PA  15213 - 3815
PHONE: (412) 682-3282 PHONE: (412) 268-2000

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
William "Red" Whittaker
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213 - 3815
(412) 268-6559

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 4
End: 6

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
A scalable gravity offload device simulates reduced gravity for the testing of various surface system elements such as mobile robots, excavators, habitats, and deployables in a relevant environment. The device is capable of simulating reduced gravity over an arbitrary terrain including such features as slopes, obstacles, and varying surface concavity. The device consists of a linear movement system, a 2 degree-of-freedom manipulator, a passive force application mechanism, and a position tracking mechanism. The manipulator travels along the linear movement system and is positioned perpendicular to the linear movement system's direction of travel. The result is a rectangular working area whereby the gravity offload device can simulate reduced gravity in the area defined by the length of the linear movement system by the width (reach) of the 2 degree-of-freedom manipulator. The force application mechanism is principled upon precision maintenance of a pressure in an air cylinder. Precision regulation of supply pressure enables constant force over the throw of the air cylinder. Varying the regulator supply pressure to the air cylinder(s) modifies the force experienced by the test article and therefore enables a gravity offload device to simulate a range of gravity fields proportional to the ability to regulate pressure.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Notable applications relevant to NASA for reduced gravity include: terramechanics, wheel-soil interaction for Mars/Lunar wheeled vehicles, lightweight robotic excavation performance, habitat deployment, and astronaut mobility.
Long-standing relationship exists between Carnegie Mellon University and NASA Glenn for terramechanics and wheel-soil interaction research. NASA Glenn's SLOPE lab is the source of wheel design and testing for the majority of NASA rovers. The gravity offload device will be developed in close cooperation with NASA Glenn, which desires gravity offload for lunar and Mars relevant testing, which accelerates the TRL of NASA rover wheel development.
Astrobotic Technology is currently building a lightweight robotic excavator under a NASA SBIR Phase II. Robotic excavators are a necessary precursor to sustained human occupation. Gravity offload of excavators validates performance in a relevant environment and accelerates the TRL of essential excavation technology.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Astrobotic Technology will incorporate this device into its ongoing development efforts for prospecting rovers and resource-excavation rovers that will conduct the company's commercial lunar expeditions. Astrobotic's focus on resource extraction requires heavy interaction with lunar soil for drilling, digging and dozing, all of which are made more challenging by the reduced traction available in one-sixth gravity. The gravity offload device will ensure that Astrobotic designs and mechanisms can be tested in the relevant environment.
Non NASA applications include foreign space agencies, university research (domestic and foreign) in reduced gravity mechanics, as well as several competitors to Astrobotic who also plan to carry out commercial lunar missions with mobility.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.)
Integrated Robotic Concepts and Systems
Testing Facilities

Form Generated on 02-01-11 15:25