MMEVR: An Autonomous and teleoperated modular robotic free-flyer for EVA Operations



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EVA operations are currently the highest-risk task actually performed by humans in space and at the same time one of the most useful assets in human space missions. Despite the growing need for enhancement of EVA capabilities, the EVA technologies, such as spacesuits, stayed almost unaltered for more than 40 years, while new concepts are currently developed (xEMU). MMEVR (Multi-Mission Extra Vehicular Robot) is a proposed design for a multipurpose EVA robot with high dexterity and mobility, which purpose is to collaborate with humans in Extra-Vehicular, in-space Operations and highly repetitive tasks. This paper presents the outcomes of the first year of research, including the Concept of operations, a preliminary design concept, and considerations on the technological integration between different off-the-shelves components. The use of COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) components is a main design driver for the whole system, as well as the integration level between existing space infrastructures and mission architectures such as the ARTEMIS program and the Lunar Gateway. MMEVR presents a new modular architecture that allows astronauts to configure the robot to follow specific mission requirements. The robot provides 2 to 4 additional robotic limbs and a navigation unit to perform autonomous tasks or collaborate with human crews during EVAs. The robot mobility is based on the joint use of RCSs (Reaction Control System) and CMGs (Control-Moment Gyroscope). MMVR can be operated in 3 different control modes: Autonomous, teleoperated or robotic augmentation for EVA suits. The design concept includes an ISPR (International Standard Payload Rack)-integrated control module for teleoperated scenarios and a standard docking interface with space assets such as orbital and deep space modules or spacecraft. MMEVR incorporates the lessons learned from the MMU, Safer, Robonaut, DEXTRE, and other space robotic assets to achieve unprecedented flexibility for the future generation of In-Space operations.



Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, In-Space servicing, space robotics, space exploration, space architecture, space systems


Portions of this document appear in: Netti, Vittorio. "Design of an autonomous and teleoperated modular robotic free-flyer for EVA operations." In ASCEND 2020, p. 4257. 2020.