Roboticists have been trying to develop systems that could automatically assemble large structures such as space crafts and telescopes directly from space. Research show having a modular design for space structures may simplify the process up to an extent.
Researchers from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Technische Universität München (TUM) published a research paper that says, the team developed an autonomous planner that could be used to assemble reconfigurable structures directly in space. in 2021 IEEE Aerospace Conference. The system enables aerospace engineers and astronauts to assemble structures directly from space.
Ismael Rodriguez, Adrian Bauer, and Maximo Roa, three of the researchers who carried out the study revealed that “Our paper was inspired by the MOSAR project. In this project, we study modular assemblies for creating the next generation of satellites. Imagine that a satellite can be created as an array of cubic modules (just like Lego pieces) and the satellite can easily be reconfigured in space for maintenance or to update its hardware.”
The robotic arms could do the assembly and reconfiguration of satellites in orbit, while the autonomous planner controls the movements. The team said, “The system we created consists of two layers, a symbolic one and a physical one, Given the exponential number of all possible solutions, it is very costly to verify the kinematics for each one of them. To quickly rule out unfeasible solutions, the symbolic layer verifies that possible solutions fulfill certain conditions such as connectivity of the satellite before passing them to the physical layer.”
The team believes the autonomous planner could simplify the assembly and reconfiguration of large-scale space structures in the future.