London-based Shadow Robot Co, an expert at ‘grasping and manipulation’ for robotic hands, is joining Avatar X — a new ‘space avatar programme’ led by ANA Holdings Inc and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
Avatar X is preparing to launch a multi-phase programme designed to “revolutionise space development and make living on the Moon, Mars and beyond a reality”.
The programme aims to accelerate the integration of technologies such as robotics, haptics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enable humans to remotely build camps on the Moon, support long-term space missions, and further explore space from Earth.
To make this possible, Shadow will work closely with the programme’s partners on the use of its tele-operation system, which is already developed and proven.
This comprises a number of elements, including Shadow’s Dexterous Hand (which can be controlled by a CyberGlove worn by the operator) attached to a UR10 robot arm (in turn controlled by a PhaseSpace motion-capture tool worn on the operator’s wrist).
Both the CyberGlove and Motion Capture wrist tool have mapping capability, so that the Dexterous Hand and the robot arm can mimic an operator’s movements — from a distance and in safety.
Shadow’s tele-operation system will be used (and enhanced) at the world’s first space avatar (tele-operation) test field, which will be built in the southern Japanese prefecture of Oita.
Rich Walker (pictured), Shadow’s managing director, said: “We are really excited to be working with ANA and JAXA on the Avatar X programme; it gives us the perfect opportunity to demonstrate how our robotics technology can be leveraged for avatar or tele-operation scenarios deep into space.”
"We want everyone to feel involved at such a transformative time in tele-operation capabilities and encourage all those interested to enter the Avatar X prize competition.”
For details, see the Web site (avatar.x