Press Release

Energid Technologies Contracted to Control and Simulate a Multi-Arm Robot for Assembling Satellites

By SpaceRef Editor
December 5, 2013
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Energid Technologies Corporation has been awarded follow-on funding to provide software for robotic control and simulation to DARPA’s Phoenix program. Phoenix seeks to leverage Energid’s software to redefine how satellites can be built and maintained through assembly and repair in orbit.

For half a century the essence of building and launching a satellite has stubbornly endured. A commercial satellite today is built on the ground, launched alone, and abandoned upon failure. The revolutionary DARPA Phoenix program is leveraging new engineering technologies with the goal of improving and transforming this process.

“As envisioned, future satellites will be assembled in space, fill launch vehicles to their fullest, and be recycled when they break,” said Neil Tardella, Energid’s CEO.

Energid has been selected to provide its Actin software as an enabling technology. Actin supports control of multiple arms, each having extra motions, like human arms that can raise and lower elbows independently of hand movement to work cooperatively. With Actin, robots are able to gain larger workspaces, improved accuracy, and the ability to reach around obstacles. Applied to a Phoenix mission, Actin would be used to take advantage of these extra motions on robots operating in geosynchronous orbit, 22,000 miles above the Earth.

Actin manages constraints and optimizations. This allows a robot operator to focus only on how a tool or gripper should move and have the joints automatically take action to achieve that motion in the best way–avoiding collisions and joint limits and optimizing for accuracy and strength.

Actin is able to simulate the Phoenix system before launch and before missions to improve the hardware design and refine objectives. Actin’s robot simulation software models the physics of robot motion and the interaction with the environment. It enables prediction of success and corrections of problems using only a digital model.

“Greater involvement with the Phoenix program is a wonderful event for our company,” said James English, the CTO of Energid. “The technology is thrilling, and we are honored by the trust placed in us when there is so much at stake.”

In this effort, Energid is leveraging technology developed for NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Naval Research Laboratory. Energid’s work on the project will be done in Massachusetts, Illinois, Texas, and Arizona.

About Energid Technologies

Energid Technologies develops robotic systems and products for the aerospace, agriculture, transportation, manufacturing, defense, and medical industries. Energid’s Actin(TM) and Selectin(TM) products provide advanced technology in the form of extensible software toolkits. Energid specializes in control, simulation, sensing, and communications for complex systems.

SpaceRef staff editor.