With the advancement of ever more capable robotic exploration of extraterrestrial bodies comes the need for low-power, low mass, and robust in-situ tools and manipulators. The current state-of-the-art used on robotic landers relies on large, bulky, and monolithic instrumentation turrets, consuming a significant proportion of mass budget which is tightly constrained for extraterrestrial missions such as Mars.
Altius Space Machines has developed a novel electropermanent magnet (EPM) gripping technology that can be integrated into a modular, dust-tolerant end-effector or tool-changer assembly. These switchable magnets unlock a significant new design envelope and offer numerous advantages over mechanical connectors, including:
Phase I efforts have produced a TRL 4 tool-changer demonstrator, and the technology is ready for more advanced development.
Altius' EPM Tool-changer is best suited for use on robotic extraterrestrial missions, where a complex and heavy instrumentation turret can be replaced with a modular tool end-effector. This includes:
Several terrestrial applications exist for Altius' EPM tool changer, including: