NASA STTR 2020-I Solicitation

Proposal Summary

 20-1- T4.03-5435
 Coordination and Control of Swarms of Space Vehicles
 Autonomous In-space Assembly of Modular Structures
Altius Space Machines, Inc.
3001 Industrial Lane, Unit #5
Broomfield CO  80020 - 7153
Phone: (801) 362-2310
Virginia Tech
300 Turner Street NW Suite 4200
VA  24061 - 0000
Phone: (540) 200-7651

Principal Investigator (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)

Eli Kopp-DeVol
3001 Industrial Lane, Unit #5 Broomfield, CO 80020 - 7153
(970) 759-6805

Business Official (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)

Jonathan Goff
3001 Industrial Lane, Unit #5 Broomfield, CO 80020 - 7153
(801) 362-2310
Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) :
Begin: 1
End: 3
Technical Abstract (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)

The ESCHER interface is part of a larger concept working to enable swarms of robots to autonomously perform difficult construction tasks while minimizing the cost and complexity of doing so. The interface, designed by Altius for use on Virginia Tech's FASER Lab robots, will leverage existing switchable electropermanent magnet (EPM) technology and Altius custom geometries to provide a high holding force magnetic interface that uses no moving parts and no transient power. The ESCHER interface aims to act as a universal interface, acting not only as the end effector for robotic manipulators, but also as an interface between modular structures, modular robots, individual robots acting as part of a swarm, and between robots and the structures they are manipulating. 

During Phase I of this project Altius will leverage their existing technologies, along with FASER’s in-house robotics and algorithm development experience to: 1) Define the mechanical and structural requirements of the ESCHER interface and develop an initial conceptual design, 2) Develop and algorithm that enables the use of the ESCHER interface to perform cooperative robotic assembly tasks, 3) Design, build, and test a brass-board level prototype of the ESCHER interface, 4) Perform an integration of the interface prototype, the developed algorithm, and the existing robotics and demonstrate basic functionality of all systems working together, and 5) Define power and data transfer needs of the interface for integration in a Phase II effort.  The Phase II effort would aim to raise the TRL level of the interface to a 6, explore the full solution space of potential applications of the universal ESCHER interface, and finally perform a demonstration of fully autonomous cooperative assembly of a structure using the interfaces and algorithms developed through Phase I and II.

Potential NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
  • In-Space Assembly of large aperture (>20m) space telescopes
  • Lunar Surface Manipulator System (LSMS) end effector
  • Assembly of truss structures for Persistent LEO and GEO Platforms
  • Construction of temporary lunar structures
  • Simplification of CIRAS truss assembly 


Potential Non-NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
  • In-Space robotic assembly of structures for Persistent LEO/GEO Platforms
  • End effector for terrestrial robotics
  • Interface for modular structures such as scaffolding or shipping containers
Duration: 13

Form Generated on 06/29/2020 21:14:41