Title: Robot FRIEND: an innovative approach to space
Author: prof. Alberto Rovetta N. AG-1
A. Rovetta, P. Cavestro, Redundant Sensorized Arm+Hand System for Space
Telerobotized Manipulation, Nasa Conference on Telemanipulation on Space,
Pasadena, February 1989
Project of a telerobot, called FRIEND (Flying Robot with
Intelligently Ended Nursing Dexterity). The project has been commissioned
from the Italian Space Agency to Milan Politecnico.
Robot FRIEND joins
in himself the characteristics of autonomy and resistance of automatic
machines for space and the typical elasticity of earth based robots,
obtaining remarkable advantages in all the tasks that may be carried out
in obit, because its philosophy of operating is derived from machines that
already have proved their flexibility and performances.
Space Missions have seen an
intensive use of robotics and automation during the last few years. This
due to the need of increasing intelligence on board and reducing the
costs. This tendency will come emphasized in the new millennium thanks to
new developments in computer science technology and of artificial
intelligence. The mechanical technology is becoming adequate to such fast
evolutions, pushing the micro mechanics to the new frontiers of the
molecular mechanisms. So it is necessary to develop and experiment new
robotics technologies for space missions.
Designed and constructed in
Laboratory in order to catch objects in the space, by means of two
robotics and sensorized articulate arms. The two arms can catch a free
object and lock it inside the arms, against the spherical body of the
robot. The prototype of FRIEND1 runs with c.c. brushless motors and
batteries. The control is entrusted to a Galil card inserted in a personal
computer. The control software has been developed in Windows environment
using Visual Basic language.
The originality of project Friend
consists in its independent and particularly flexible robotic system. The
robot is indeed remarkably independent and capable of carrying out
whichever type of movement on the space structures in complete absence of
links. Many current robotic systems are statically bound to the space
station structure, or have to follow railroads on the structure.
robotic system is capable of overtaking any kind of obstacles.
multi-degrees of freedom kinematic structure is more innovative than the
actual solutions in the scientific literature, for the disposition of the
degrees of freedom. This structure allows achieving a great flexibility in
The use of a robot in space is particularly
useful considering the high degree of flexibility that is typical of every
robotic structure. The robot can be used for various purposes, and be
configured for carrying out different tasks from those for which it has
been built. The possibility of using interchanging actuators
(end-effectors) facilitates this task and makes the machine always capable
of answering to the requirements that the space activities demand.
Robot FRIEND is able to carry out automatic assembling tasks such as
building space stations or orbiting telescopes. It can also be operated to
help astronauts putting together the parts of a space ship for planets
exploration, which will be a major activity in the next years.