Resilient Space Robotics: Towards the Autonomy of Space Missions
A sustainable space program requires reliable and autonomous robotic systems—both for maintaining the existing space infrastructure and building new ones. Autonomy is especially essential to future space robotics. They must be able to operate in harsh and new environments while dealing with fast, frequent and demanding missions with large communication delays that prevent any real-time manipulation from a distance (teleoperation).
Space robotic systems—from space manipulators to exploration rovers—are inherently multidisciplinary and underactuated. This limits their autonomy during space missions. Dr. Robin Chhabra, Canada Research Chair in Autonomous Space Robotics and Mechatronics, is tying to develop new intelligent guidance, navigation and control technologies for these robotic systems that will ensure their long-term and reliable autonomy.
Chhabra and his research team are investigating advanced multibody dynamics and differential geometric frameworks to understand the highly nonlinear, constrained and flexible behaviour of moving-base space robotic systems. The aim is to come up with practical resilient autonomy elements that can deal with the off-nominal conditions that often appear in space missions, such as disturbance, uncertainty, singularity and flexibility.
The concepts, algorithms and technologies that Chhabra and his team develop may completely change our view of autonomous systems and open the door to new intelligent robotics. Chhabra’s research is also a step towards having fully autonomous space robotics that can survive in hostile and uncertain environments, which could also benefit sectors like defence, manufacturing and mining.