Kinematic Analysis of a Robotically Augmented Pressure Suit for Planetary Exploration 2007-01-3171
The next generation of pressure suits must enable large-scale planetary Extra-Vehicular Activities (EVA). Astronauts exploring the moon and Mars will be required to walk many kilometers, carry large loads, perform intricate experiments, and extract geological samples. Advanced pressure suit architectures must be developed to allow astronauts to perform these and other tasks simply and effectively. The research developed here demonstrates integration of robotics technology into pressure suit design. The concept of a robotically augmented pressure suit for planetary exploration has been developed through the use of analytical and experimental investigations. Two unique torso configurations are examined, including a Soft/Hard Upper Torso with individually adjustable bearings, as well as advances in Morphing Upper Torso research, in which an all-soft torso is analyzed as a system of interconnected parallel manipulators. The forward kinematics of the systems are developed, and tools have been generated to further quantify the dynamic requirements. In addition, the concept of using parallel manipulators to augment suit mobility has been extended to include the lower torso assembly. Coupling these analyses with previous work done on a wire-actuated glove and concurrent work on robotically augmented arm assemblies, it becomes feasible to envision a fully augmented pressure suit, one which significantly increases the astronaut's capabilities and the efficiency of future planetary EVA.