ROTEX - The First Robot in Space 941444

The paper describes the key technologies developed for the space robot technology experiment ROTEX that flew with shuttle flight STS 55 end of April 93. During this “spacelab-D2”-mission for the first time in the history of space flight a small, multisensory robot (i.e. provided with modest local intelligence) has performed a number of prototype tasks on board a spacecraft in the most different operational modes that are feasible today, namely preprogrammed (and reprogrammed from ground), remotely controlled (teleoperated) by the astronauts using a control ball and a stereo-TV-monitor, but also remotely controlled from ground via the human operator as well as via machine intelligence. In these operational modes the robot successfully closed and opened connector plugs (bayonet closure), assembled structures from single parts and captured a free-floating object.
Key technologies for the success of ROTEX have been its multisensory gripper technology, local (shared autonomy) sensory feedback control concepts, and the powerful delay-compensating 3D-graphics simulation (predictive simulation) in the telerobotic ground station.


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