Incorporating Advanced Controls, Displays and other Smart Elements into Space Suit Design 2009-01-2472
The MX-2 neutral buoyancy space suit analogue has been designed and developed at the University of Maryland to facilitate analysis of space suit components and assessment of the benefits of advanced space suit technologies, The MX-2 replicates the salient features of microgravity pressure suits, including the induced joint torques, visual, auditory and thermal environments, and microgravity through the use of neutral buoyancy simulation. In this paper, design upgrades and recent operations of the suit are outlined, including many experiments and tests of advanced space suit technologies, This paper focuses on the work done using the MX-2 to implement and investigate various advanced controls and displays within the suit, to enhance crewmember situational awareness and effectiveness, and enable human-robotic interaction. An advanced interface has been built into the suit which includes a speech recognition system, augmented reality and several different displays, which provide information to the crewmembers through images which incorporate status updates, electronic checklists, diagrams, camera feeds, video, etc. This system allows the suit subject to choose the information on the displays using voice, as well as to control various robotic systems with voice commands. The system also provides auditory feedback. This hands-off, eyes-off interface could make future servicing tasks, such as satellite repairs or construction of structures in space or on the moon, simpler and more time-effective, reducing the demands on the EVA astronaut while taking advantage of the extensive benefits of human-robot teams. By significantly enhancing the capabilities of a suited astronaut, this system will enable astronauts on the surface of the Moon or Mars to explore more effectively, safely, efficiently, and autonomously. The system reduces reliance on external communications, which has the potential to reduce operational costs and crewmember workload.