The proposed innovation is to adapt Opterus’ high strain composite boom and deployer technologies and apply the low-mass, low-power dust tolerant technology to robotic arms for low-gravity environments. A boom enabled robotic arm enables surface mobility, manipulation and sampling functions in an extremely compact, low mass sub system. The high structural performance and low mass features of Opterus’ booms and deployment mechanisms can support a greater range of end effectors for scooping, drilling, grasping, or otherwise acquiring and manipulating surface objects. Opterus is also investigating continuous roll-to-roll fabrication methods for kilometer scale HSC booms.
The objective of the proposed work is to analytically evaluate and experimentally demonstrate the technical feasibility of high strain composite booms applied to a variety of robotic mobility, manipulation, and sampling tasks. Opterus will evaluate concepts, demonstrate the feasibility and quantify the benefit of HSC deployable and retractable booms for three objective applications: legged robotic mobility, robotic arms for low-gravity environments to perform surface and near-subsurface sampling, and kilometer scale HSC boom deep drill systems. Each application will be similarly studied during the program. Each application study will consist of traditional analysis, design, build, and test tasks.
Opterus and will employ an iterative development approach using the analysis, design, build, test cycle. In the course of HSC development programs, we have found a balance between build and analysis to be most effective and we expect to achieve 3-5 cycles in this program. New HSC booms often require 10-20 build iterations to achieve desired objectives. Development will be accelerated here because of Opterus’ extensive experience with high strain composite booms.
HSC booms are enabling for NASA’s next generation of robotic architectures for multiple small-body and planetary missions such as the Ocean Worlds program with surface and deep drills for Europa, and future missions to Enceladus, Titan, and other planetary bodies with subsurface oceans. Sample-return missions could be supported such as from Ceres, comets, and asteroids. And a renewed interest in return to Earth's Moon, the mobility and sampling technologies could support future robotic missions to the Moon and Mars.
Non-NASA markets include similar operations but in-space rather than small bodies or planets. On-orbit servicing, assembly, and manufacturing is a key DoD market for the robotic arm architectures enabled by Opterus’ HSC booms.