Cambridge, Massachusetts (September 10, 2006)– The DARPA-sponsored, Navy-executed Spacecraft for the Universal Modification of Orbits (SUMO) program will provide a robotic system for servicing spacecraft. The SUMO system will autonomously attach to fixtures on many different types of target platforms. As envisioned, the system will include three robotic arms connected to a single base comprising the payload module and the propulsion system. Each arm will have at least seven degrees of freedom. Thus, including six degrees of freedom in spatial positioning and orienting for the base, the SUMO system will have at least 27 spatial degrees of freedom. This complex mechanism, using a bi-prop rocket motor and actuators on each of the robotic joints, must grapple target platforms without fail, without injuring itself, and without damaging the target platform. And the control system for achieving this must be validated and designed for flight readiness.
Energid has been awarded a contract to develop control algorithms for SUMO. For application to this contract, Energid brings its Actin software toolkit. Implemented in C++, Actin calculates joint positions and rates that set robotic end effectors and other constraints in real time while optimizing configurable performance criteria. The constraints and optimization criteria can be changed at run time, allowing hybrid methods that better meet mission needs. Actin supports this control capability with high-speed geometric reasoning for collision avoidance, support for cooperation of multiple robotic manipulators, dynamic simulation, three-dimensional rendering for visualization and sensor modeling, and communications for supervisory control.