Gecko Inspired Adhesives for Enhanced Dexterity of Robotic Manipulation Systems
Valuable time is spent by astronauts performing simple, mundane, or ergonomically taxing tasks. Therefore, one center of focus for NASA is to have robots increasingly perform these tasks to give the crew more time flexibility. Robots are also employed with tasks that are too dangerous for humans or when movement could affect the results and success of a task. The following proposal applies nanoGrip's expertise in design, fabrication, and characterization of gecko-inspired microfiber adhesives to produce a new generation of materials that increases the dexterity of these robots' manipulators so that they can perform a larger variety of manipulation tasks with higher precision. In this proposal, an emphasis will be placed on manipulating objects that are either small, delicate, or with a difficult to grip form factor where the current state of the art in manipulation may struggle.Microfiber adhesive materials developed during this project will be evaluated for their shear strength in contact with systems and materials which may be encountered by the Robonaut 2 (R2) manipulator on the International Space Station, for their ability to stick and unstick reliably through pick and place experiments, and for their ability to perform manipulation tasks when incorporated onto a robotic manipulator. Proof of concept robotic manipulation during these studies will be performed in collaboration with our consulting partner on Carnegie Mellon University's (CMU) Robotics Institute's bimanual dexterous manipulation robot. Additionally, prototypes will be delivered to NASA for qualitative or quantitative evaluation. At NASA's discretion, testing may be performed at the Johnson Space Center's Dextrous Robotics Lab for material evaluation on the ground-based R2 manipulator.
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