Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe free to our newsletters via your




















Eurobot Makes A Splash

Watch the movie of Eurobot at work
by Staff Writers
Paris, France (ESA) Jul 05, 2007
Many of the best-loved science fiction movies show intelligent robotic servants working alongside their masters. Fiction is rapidly becoming fact as European engineers develop increasingly sophisticated machines that can operate in space. One of these, known as Eurobot, has just completed trials in the giant pool at the European Astronaut Centre.

Eurobot has been under development since 2003, with the intention that the multi-jointed, three-armed assistant will eventually handle some of the more mundane tasks currently undertaken by astronauts. One possible use will be in helping astronauts during extravehicular activity (EVA), more commonly known as spacewalks, but the robot may also be an indispensable helper during human expeditions to the Moon or Mars.

In the hostile conditions of space, the tireless Eurobot will save a great deal of time and effort by taking over various routine tasks. For example, the astronauts' flexible friend will be able to find its way to a work site on the International Space Station (ISS), perform a close-up inspection and carry out any initial preparatory work, such as the transfer of tools and equipment. Remotely controlled by an operator inside the ISS, Eurobot will be able to multi-task, providing additional hands and eyes for the spacewalkers. Once the astronauts are safely inside the Station, Eurobot will clear away the tools and equipment.

"It could be a most useful aid," said Gianfranco Visentin, head of ESA's Automation and Robotics section. "There is a shortage of crew time during all missions, so anything that improves the use of astronaut time is very desirable." Former ESA astronaut Claude Nicollier, an expert in both EVAs and robotics, shares this point of view, "The support to EVAs is seen mainly in tasks such as worksite preparation, post-EVA cleanup and inspection."

The version of Eurobot used in this week's exercises is an early prototype called the Weightless Environmental Test (WET) Model, which has been developed for operation in a 'Neutral Buoyancy Facility' - a water tank where the microgravity conditions found in space can be simulated.

Developed for ESA by a consortium led by Thales Alenia Space, the WET Model is similar in size and configuration of the planned Flight Model. It consists of a central 'body' structure with three identical arms, each with 7 joints. Although the arms' length and strength are similar to those of a human, they are much more manoeuvrable and versatile.

In addition, each arm is equipped with a camera and an end-effector which acts as a hand. The WET model has only one type of hand, which is capable of grasping EVA handrails. In contrast, the real Eurobot will have a set of 3 or 4 interchangeable hands. A head camera on a pan and tilt mechanism provides a global monitoring view of the worksite.

In the latest trials, the WET Model was used to verify the operational concept for Eurobot. During tests of its ability to move and manipulate objects, the project team gained hands-on experience of the robot's capabilities, trying out multi-arm control and coordination, along with visual recognition of obscured targets. Eurobot was joined in the EAC pool by ESA astronaut Jean-François Clervoy to demonstrate the interaction between astronaut and robot.

The trials at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC), in Cologne, Germany, conclude the initial verification phase of the Eurobot Wet Model programme, following on from previous preliminary dry and wet tests in Italy.

"The tests went very well", said Philippe Schoonejans, ESA's Eurobot Project Manager. "Not only has it been demonstrated that Eurobot can walk around an orbital station autonomously and safely, using no more than the existing EVA handrails, it is also becoming clear that Eurobot can really help the astronauts. And in the next phase we also plan to demonstrate its use in on a planetary surface, as part of the Agency's exploration programme."

While the testing of the WET model makes it possible to study the operational aspects of Eurobot, ESA has undertaken a comprehensive programme to further its technological development.

This includes engineering models of the robot arms (called DexArm) and tool exchange device (CTED); the computer vision technology that allows Eurobot to identify and grasp objects (VIMANCO); the central brain that allows coordination of the robot arms' motion (CONTEXT); a sophisticated human-machine interface that allows tele-operation of the DexArm (Exoskeleton); and a control station that is used to program and control the Eurobot (A-DREAMS). All of these are being integrated in the Eurobot test bed located at ESA's Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.

Community
Email This Article
Comment On This Article

Related Links
Eurobot Testbed
All about the robots on Earth and beyond!



Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News


Team SpelBots Take On Robotic Titans At RoboCup 2007
Atlanta GA (SPX) Jun 28, 2007
The history-making Spelman College robotics soccer team competes again at the world's most-renowned competition for research robotics. Once again, SpelBots, the history-making Spelman College robotics soccer team, return to the international stage at RoboCup 2007. This year, the team competes in the inaugural Microsoft Robotics Studio Soccer Challenge demonstration and the Four-Legged Robot Technical Challenge at the international robotics competition, July 1-10 at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.







  • Russia Launches Genesis 2 On Converted SS-18 ICBM Launcher
  • NASA Selects Reynolds To Design Emergency Egress System For Orion Astronauts
  • Lack Of Willingness To Discuss NASA Budget Deeply Disappointing
  • Moon Jobs May Crater Suggests Rutgers-Camden Researcher

  • NASA Mars Rover Ready For Descent Into Crater
  • Mars Rover Laser Tool Ready For Testing
  • Mars Experiment To Push Mental Endurance To The Limit
  • ESA Wants Space Pioneers For 520-Day Mars Experiment

  • Boeing Lockheed Rocketeers Turn To SAP For Bettter ERP
  • Spacehab Subsidiary Wins New NASA Launch Processing Contract At Vandenberg
  • Arianespace Orders 35 Ariane 5 ECA Rockets
  • Arianespace Winning Launch Contracts From Across The World

  • GOP House Science Committee To Evaluate NASA Earth Science Budget
  • Subcommittee Continues Look At Status of NASA Earth Science Programs
  • QuikSCAT Marks Eight Years On-Orbit Watching Planet Earth
  • Ukraine To Launch Earth Observation Satellite In 2008

  • New Horizons Slips Into Electronic Slumber
  • Nap Before You Sleep For Your Cruise Into The Abyss Of Outer Sol
  • The Dwarf Planet Known As Eris Is More Massive Than Pluto
  • Full Set Of Jupiter Close-Approach Data Reaches Home

  • First Detection Of Thorium In An Extragalactic Star
  • Countdown To Dawn
  • New Gamma Ray Satellite Currently Lodging in a Comfortable Clean Room
  • UCLA Professor Leads NASA Dawn Mission

  • Summer Moon Illusion
  • NASA Plans New Era Of Suitcase Sized Lunar Science
  • X PRIZE Announces Competitors For Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge
  • Japan To Launch Lunar Orbiter On August 16

  • Cooperation Agreement For Satellite Navigation In Africa
  • GPS Wing At LA Air Force Base Changes Command
  • ESA Launches New Program For Air Traffic Management Via Satellite
  • Northrop Grumman Delivers First Production Stellar Navigation System To US Air Force

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2007 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement