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Fully Modular Robotic Arm Architecture Utilizing Novel Multifunctional Space Interface

Zeis, C.; de Alba-Padilla, C. A.; Schroeder, K.-U.; Grzesik, Benjamin; Stoll, Enrico

FG Raumfahrttechnik

The current paradigm in space robotics is the design of specialized robotic manipulators to meet the requirements for a specific mission profile. This research aims to develop a novel concept of a modular robotic arm for multi-purpose and multi-mission use. The overall approach is based on a manipulator formed by serial connection of identical modules. Each module contains one rotational joint. The joints, rotation axis is tilted under an angle of 45° to the normal axis, which requires less stowage space compared to a traditional joint configuration. A manipulator can be reconfigured in orbit by adding or removing modules and end effectors, therefore modifying the degrees of freedom (DoF) as well as the workspace. Redundancies are introduced, since defect modules may be removed or replaced. This paper outlines the overall concept of modularization of a robotic arm. The development and mechanical design of a terrestrial demonstrator based on the multifunctional interface iSSI (intelligent Space System Interface) is presented, which is intended for OOS and OOA activities. Furthermore, a variant of the modular robotic system with 24 DoF is presented, which can be stowed in a Cubesat-sized environment. It can operate in spaces with limited accessibility and is dedicated for tasks like inspection and delicate repairs. Finally, an outlook to further research potential and future use cases for the modular robotic system is given.