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Article
Publication date: 4 October 2018

Zhiming Chen, Lei Li, Yunhua Wu, Bing Hua and Kang Niu

On-orbit service technology is one of the key technologies of space manipulation activities such as spacecraft life extension, fault spacecraft capture, on-orbit debris…

Abstract

Purpose

On-orbit service technology is one of the key technologies of space manipulation activities such as spacecraft life extension, fault spacecraft capture, on-orbit debris removal and so on. It is known that the failure satellites, space debris and enemy spacecrafts in space are almost all non-cooperative targets. Relatively accurate pose estimation is critical to spatial operations, but also a recognized technical difficulty because of the undefined prior information of non-cooperative targets. With the rapid development of laser radar, the application of laser scanning equipment is increasing in the measurement of non-cooperative targets. It is necessary to research a new pose estimation method for non-cooperative targets based on 3D point cloud. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

In this paper, a method based on the inherent characteristics of a spacecraft is proposed for estimating the pose (position and attitude) of the spatial non-cooperative target. First, we need to preprocess the obtained point cloud to reduce noise and improve the quality of data. Second, according to the features of the satellite, a recognition system used for non-cooperative measurement is designed. The components which are common in the configuration of satellite are chosen as the recognized object. Finally, based on the identified object, the ICP algorithm is used to calculate the pose between two frames of point cloud in different times to finish pose estimation.

Findings

The new method enhances the matching speed and improves the accuracy of pose estimation compared with traditional methods by reducing the number of matching points. The recognition of components on non-cooperative spacecraft directly contributes to the space docking, on-orbit capture and relative navigation.

Research limitations/implications

Limited to the measurement distance of the laser radar, this paper considers the pose estimation for non-cooperative spacecraft in the close range.

Practical implications

The pose estimation method for non-cooperative spacecraft in this paper is mainly applied to close proximity space operations such as final rendezvous phase of spacecraft or ultra-close approaching phase of target capture. The system can recognize components needed to be capture and provide the relative pose of non-cooperative spacecraft. The method in this paper is more robust compared with the traditional single component recognition method and overall matching method when scanning of laser radar is not complete or the components are blocked.

Originality/value

This paper introduces a new pose estimation method for non-cooperative spacecraft based on point cloud. The experimental results show that the proposed method can effectively identify the features of non-cooperative targets and track their position and attitude. The method is robust to the noise and greatly improves the speed of pose estimation while guarantee the accuracy.

Details

International Journal of Intelligent Computing and Cybernetics, vol. 12 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1756-378X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 26 September 2019

Yiwei Liu, Shipeng Cui, Hong Liu, Minghe Jin, Fenglei Ni, Zhiqi Li and Chongyang Li

The purpose of this study is to develop a robotic hand–arm system for on-orbit servicing missions at the Tiangong-2 (TG-2) Space Laboratory.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to develop a robotic hand–arm system for on-orbit servicing missions at the Tiangong-2 (TG-2) Space Laboratory.

Design/methodology/approach

The hand–arm system is mainly composed of a lightweight arm, a dexterous hand, an electrical cabinet, a global camera, a hand–eye camera and some human–machine interfaces. The 6-DOF lightweight arm and the 15-DOF dexterous hand adopt the modular design philosophy that greatly reduces the design cycle and cost. To reduce the computational burden on the central controller and simplify system maintenance, an electrical system which has a hierarchical structure is introduced.

Findings

The prototypical operating experiments completed in TG-2 space laboratory demonstrate the performance of the hand–arm system and lay foundations for the future applications of space manipulators.

Originality/value

The main contributions of this paper are as follows a robotic hand–arm system which can perform on-orbit servicing missions such as grasping the electric drill, screwing the bolt, unscrewing J599 electrical connector has been developed; a variable time step motion plan method is proposed to adjust the trajectories of the lightweight arm to reduce or eliminate the collision force; and a dexterous hand uses the coordinated grasp control based on the object Cartesian stiffness to realize stable grasp. To solve the kinematic mapping from the cyber glove commands to the dexterous hand, a fingertip-position-based method is proposed to acquire precise solutions.

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Expert briefing
Publication date: 12 December 2019

Space servicing industry.

Details

DOI: 10.1108/OXAN-DB249391

ISSN: 2633-304X

Keywords

Geographic
Topical
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Article
Publication date: 19 October 2018

Karol Seweryn and Jurek Z. Sasiadek

This paper aims to present a novel method for identification and classification of rotational motion for uncontrolled satellites. These processes are shown in context of…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to present a novel method for identification and classification of rotational motion for uncontrolled satellites. These processes are shown in context of close proximity orbital operations. In particular, it includes a manipulator arm mounted on chaser satellite and used to capture target satellites. In such situations, a precise extrapolation of the target’s docking port position is needed to determine the manipulator arm motion. The outcome of this analysis might be used in future debris removal or servicing space missions.

Design/methodology/approach

Nonlinear, and in some special cases, chaotic nature of satellite rotational motion was considered. Four parameters were defined: range of motion toward docking port, dominant frequencies, fractal dimension of the motion and its time dependencies.

Findings

The qualitative analysis was performed for presented cases of spacecraft rotational motion and for each case the respective parameters were calculated. The analysis shows that it is possible to detect the type of rotational motion.

Originality/value

A novel procedure allowing to estimate the type of satellite rotational motion based on fractal approach was proposed.

Details

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, vol. 91 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1748-8842

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 20 October 2014

Haitao Yang, Minghe Jin, Zongwu Xie, Kui Sun and Hong Liu

The purpose of this paper is to solve the ground verification and test method for space robot system capturing the target satellite based on visual servoing with…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to solve the ground verification and test method for space robot system capturing the target satellite based on visual servoing with time-delay in 3-dimensional space prior to space robot being launched.

Design/methodology/approach

To implement the approaching and capturing task, a motion planning method for visual servoing the space manipulator to capture a moving target is presented. This is mainly used to solve the time-delay problem of the visual servoing control system and the motion uncertainty of the target satellite. To verify and test the feasibility and reliability of the method in three-dimensional (3D) operating space, a set of ground hardware-in-the-loop simulation verification systems is developed, which adopts the end-tip kinematics equivalence and dynamics simulation method.

Findings

The results of the ground hardware-in-the-loop simulation experiment validate the reliability of the eye-in-hand visual system in the 3D operating space and prove the validity of the visual servoing motion planning method with time-delay compensation. At the same time, owing to the dynamics simulator of the space robot added in the ground hardware-in-the-loop verification system, the base disturbance can be considered during the approaching and capturing procedure, which makes the ground verification system realistic and credible.

Originality/value

The ground verification experiment system includes the real controller of space manipulator, the eye-in-hand camera and the dynamics simulator, which can veritably simulate the capturing process based on the visual servoing in space and consider the effect of time delay and the free-floating base disturbance.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 41 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 23 January 2019

Huang Jianbin, Li Zhi, Huang Longfei, Meng Bo, Han Xu and Pang Yujia

According to the requirements of servicing and deorbiting the failure satellites, especially the tumbling ones on geosynchronous orbit, this paper aims to design a docking…

Abstract

Purpose

According to the requirements of servicing and deorbiting the failure satellites, especially the tumbling ones on geosynchronous orbit, this paper aims to design a docking mechanism to capture these tumbling satellites in orbit, to analyze the dynamics of the docking system and to develop a new collision force-limited control method in various docking speeds.

Design/methodology/approach

The mechanism includes a cone-rod mechanism which captures the apogee engine with a full consideration of despinning and damping characteristics and a locking and releasing mechanism which rigidly connects the international standard interface ring (Marman rings, such as 937B, 1194 and 1194A mechanical interface). The docking mechanism was designed under-actuated, aimed to greatly reduce the difficulty of control and ensure the continuity, synchronization and force uniformity under the process of repeatedly capturing, despinning, locking and releasing the tumbling satellite. The dynamic model of docking mechanism was established, and the impact force was analyzed in the docking process. Furthermore, a collision detection and compliance control method is proposed by using the active force-limited Cartesian impedance control and passive damping mechanism design.

Findings

A variety of conditions were set for the docking kinematics and dynamics simulation. The simulation and low-speed docking experiment results showed that the force translation in the docking phase was stable, the mechanism design scheme was reasonable and feasible and the proposed force-limited Cartesian impedance control could detect the collision and keep the external force within the desired value.

Originality/value

The paper presents a universal docking mechanism and force-limited Cartesian impedance control approach to capture the tumbling non-cooperative satellite. The docking mechanism was designed under-actuated to greatly reduce the difficulty of control and ensure the continuity, synchronization and force uniformity. The dynamic model of docking mechanism was established. The impact force was controlled within desired value by using a combination of active force-limited control approach and passive damping mechanism.

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2005

Brian Rooks

To review presentations on robotics in “less familiar environments” given at a seminar, “The changing face of robotics: inside and outside the factory”, organised by the…

Abstract

Purpose

To review presentations on robotics in “less familiar environments” given at a seminar, “The changing face of robotics: inside and outside the factory”, organised by the UK Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE).

Design/methodology/approach

This paper covers the second part of the IEE seminar, which was concerned with robotics outside the traditional areas of “metal bashing”. Four diverse industries are covered: food, defence, construction and space. The presentation on “food”, by Bob Lloyd of AMTRI puts forward the concept of “a food factory in a pipe”, while that by Andy Cooke from BAE Systems, on “defence” describes R&D projects ranging from a crawler robot for wing skin drilling to a volcano‐exploring mobile robot. The “construction industry” presentation by John Riehl of Construction Robotics introduces START (safety through automated and robotic technologies), an organisation dedicated to improving safety in the industry by exploiting existing robotic technologies to remove operators from dangerous environments. The final presentation on “space robotics” by Dr Eddie Moxie of Surrey University, discusses “On‐Orbit Servicing” in which robotic arms handle satellites and their componentary, and the development of rover or mobile robot vehicles in “Planetary Exploration”.

Findings

Robotics is spreading into a greater variety of industries, and in many cases the technology is similar to that used in conventional “metal industry” robot applications.

Originality/value

Provides a review of robotic applications in the food, defence, construction and space exploration industries.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 32 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 15 June 2015

Haitao Yang, Zongwu Xie, Kui Sun, Xiaoyu Zhao, Minghe Jin and Cao Li

The purpose of this paper is to develop a set of ground experiment system to verify the basic functions of space effector and the capturing reliability of space…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to develop a set of ground experiment system to verify the basic functions of space effector and the capturing reliability of space end-effector for the free-floating target payload in the three-dimensional space. The development of ground experiment system for space end-effector is essential and significant, because it costs too much to launch a space robot or other spacecraft and carry out operation tasks in space. Owing to the negligible gravity in space, which is different from that in the ground environment, ground experiment system for space end-effector should have the capability of verifying the basic functions of space effector and the reliability of space end-effector in capturing the free-floating target payload in space.

Design/methodology/approach

The ground experiment system for space end-effector mainly adopts the hybrid simulation method, which includes the real hardware experiment and software simulation. To emulate the micro-gravity environment, the contact dynamics simulator is applied to emulating the motion state of the free-floating target payload, while the admittance control is used to realize the “soft” capturing of space end-effector to simulate the real situation in space.

Findings

With the gravity compensation, the influence of gravity is almost eliminated and the results meet the requirements of the experiment. In the ground experiment, the admittance control is effective and the actual motion state of space end-effector capturing the target in space can be simulated. The experiment results show that space end-effector can capture the free-floating target payload successfully and hopefully have the ability to capture a free-floating target in space.

Originality/value

The system can verify space end-effector capturing the free-floating target payload in three-dimensional space and imitate the motion of space end-effector capturing the free-floating target in space. The system can also be modified and improved for application in the verification of space robot capturing and docking the target, which is valuable for the ground verification of space applications.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 42 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 15 May 2017

Zhenyu Li, Bin Wang, Haitao Yang and Hong Liu

Rapid satellite capture by a free-floating space robot is a challenge problem because of no-fixed base and time-delay issues. This paper aims to present a modified target…

Abstract

Purpose

Rapid satellite capture by a free-floating space robot is a challenge problem because of no-fixed base and time-delay issues. This paper aims to present a modified target capturing control scheme for improving the control performance.

Design/methodology/approach

For handling such control problem including time delay, the modified scheme is achieved by adding a delay calibration algorithm into the visual servoing loop. To identify end-effector motions in real time, a motion predictor is developed by partly linearizing the space robot kinematics equation. By this approach, only ground-fixed robot kinematics are involved in the predicting computation excluding the complex space robot kinematics calculations. With the newly developed predictor, a delay compensator is designed to take error control into account. For determining the compensation parameters, the asymptotic stability condition of the proposed compensation algorithm is also presented.

Findings

The proposed method is conducted by a credible three-dimensional ground experimental system, and the experimental results illustrate the effectiveness of the proposed method.

Practical implications

Because the delayed camera signals are compensated with only ground-fixed robot kinematics, this proposed satellite capturing scheme is particularly suitable for commercial on-orbit services with cheaper on-board computers.

Originality/value

This paper is original as an attempt trying to compensate the time delay by taking both space robot motion predictions and compensation error control into consideration and is valuable for rapid and accurate satellite capture tasks.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 44 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 11 September 2007

Abstract

Details

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, vol. 79 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0002-2667

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