Exploring planet geology through force-feedback telemanipulation from orbit

Michael Panzirsch, Aaron Pereira, Harsimran Singh, Bernhard Weber, Edmundo Ferreira, Andrei Gherghescu, Lukas Hann, Emiel den Exter, Frank van der Hulst, Levin Gerdes, Leonardo Cencetti, Kjetil Wormnes, Jessica Grenouilleau, William Carey, Ribin Balachandran, Thomas Hulin, Christian Ott, Daniel Leidner, Alin Albu-Schäffer, Neal Y. LiiThomas Krüger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

Current space exploration roadmaps envision exploring the surface geology of celestial bodies with robots for both scientific research and in situ resource utilization. In such unstructured, poorly lit, complex, and remote environments, automation is not always possible, and some tasks, such as geological sampling, require direct teleoperation aided by force-feedback (FF). The operator would be on an orbiting spacecraft, and poor bandwidth, high latency, and packet loss from orbit to ground mean that safe, stable, and transparent interaction is a substantial technical challenge. For this scenario, a control method was developed that ensures stability at high delay without reduction in speed or loss of positioning accuracy. At the same time, a new level of safety is achieved not only through FF itself but also through an intrinsic property of the approach preventing hard impacts. On the basis of this method, a tele-exploration scenario was simulated in the Analog-1 experiment with an astronaut on the International Space Station (ISS) using a 6–degree-of-freedom (DoF) FF capable haptic input device to control a mobile robot with manipulator on Earth to collect rock samples. The 6-DoF FF telemanipulation from space was performed at a round-trip communication delay constantly between 770 and 850 milliseconds and an average packet loss of 1.27%. This experiment showcases the feasibility of a complete space exploration scenario via haptic telemanipulation under spaceflight conditions. The results underline the benefits of this control method for safe and accurate interactions and of haptic feedback in general.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereabl6307
JournalScience Robotics
Volume7
Issue number65
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes

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