Human-Robotic Systems (HRS)

HRS

High quality production photos of Robonaut (R2) in Building 14 EMI chamber and R1/EMU photos in Building 32 – Robonaut Lab. Photo Date: June 1, 2010. Location: Building 14 – EMI Chamber/Building 32 – Robonaut Lab. Credits: Robert Markowitz & Bill Stafford.

The Human-Robotic Systems  project focuses on development, testing and evaluation of robot systems that help humans operate more effectively in space. Key technologies include human-robot interaction, robotic assistance, and surface mobility components.

The Human Robotic Systems (HRS) project focuses on development, testing and evaluation of robot systems that help humans operate more effectively in space. This may include working in advance of human arrival, working alongside humans or following the departure of human explorers. In some cases, the project develops systems and technologies for immediate infusion into mission and in other cases HRS develops well in advance of the need by the agency to buy down risk such that these advanced capabilities will be ready when called on. Key technologies include human-robot interaction, robotic assistants, and robotic mobility systems.

During 2017, the HRS project has four elements with participation from five NASA centers: rover technologies, the space robotics challenge, Robonaut cognitive computing and the National Robotics Initiative. HRS is led out of NASA’s Johnson Space Center by Dr. Bill Bluethmann, with leads at each participating center.

Rover Technology

The rover technology element is performing the rover technology development for infusion into the Advanced Exploration Systems Resource Prospector mission. This mission will explore the lunar poles, looking to characterize the presence and distribution of volatiles. Key technologies include low cost, low temperature rover designs, navigation under low harsh lunar polar lighting conditions, and operating rovers under moderate (2 to 10 seconds) time delay. Learn more about rover technologies by visiting the Advanced Exploration Systems Resource Prospector mission page.

National Robotics Initiative

The National Robotics Initiative (NRI) is a cross-governmental agency, joint solicitation that supports a national initiative to accelerate the development of next-generation robots in the U.S. Participating government agencies provide funds for competitive grants to U.S. universities and research labs—to conduct robotics research and development—with the goal of bringing robotics capability back to the U.S., keeping the country competitive in robotics. During 2017, 12 grants are active within NASA’s NRI portfolio, covering a wide variety of applications, including robotic walking and foot/soil interaction, exoskeletons, machine learning and planning for humanoid robots, long/thin tendril-like robots for inspection, robotic motors/sensing and multiple rover planning under multiple constraints.

Robonaut 2

The Robonaut 2 (R2) units on the ground are active in robotics technology advancement efforts that will be needed for caretaking of crewed and dormant spacecraft. These technologies include dexterous manipulation of tools, cognitive computing, machine vision processing, autonomous planning and commanding, and human-robot interactions. The safety and control system developed for the on-orbit R2 provide an accessible interface to university and industrial partners whose co-development of these important technologies is essential for enabling future exploration missions.

Space Robotics Challenge

Through the Space Robotics Challenge, R5 humanoid robots were placed in research labs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Northeastern University/University of Massachusetts-Lowell in 2016. These researchers are adding new capabilities for humanoid walking, commanding, human-robot interaction, and manipulation. R5 is a bipedal humanoid robot designed to function in surface-based environments, and specifically can function in environments developed for humans. The system is envisioned to deploy, checkout and maintain habitats and/or bases for a human Mars mission. In parallel to the technology development at the universities, The Space Robotics Challenge is being conducted by Space Center Houston, Johnson’s official visitor center. In the challenge, teams will perform multiple Mars surface setup and maintenance tasks. More details can be found at https://ninesights.ninesigma.com/web/space-robotics-challenge.

Click on the gallery tab to view a map of HRS partners and to see other images and video.

Principal Technologist Project Manager
Rob Ambrose (robert.o.ambrose@nasa.gov) Bill Bluethmann (william.j.bluethmann@nasa.gov)

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