Compliant Gripping Mechanism for Anchoring and Mobility in Microgravity and Extreme Terrain
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Honors Theses; 2017
One major limitation of previous NASA missions in exploring asteroids, comets, and planetary surfaces such as Mars has been the inability to properly navigate these terrains with conventional mobility methods. For example, the Mars Exploration Rover (MER), Opportunity, viewed stratified bedrock in a crater wall of Mars but was unable to access the samples due to its limited mobility. Traditional land rovers cannot maneuver well in extreme space environments with microgravity conditions because of the harsh terrain and very low escape velocities on smaller bodies. Land rovers are also incapable of traversing steep crater walls and cliffs, which limits the rover’s ability to reach sites of greater scientific interest. Current drawbacks of space mobility technology lead to the opportunity to develop new, unique robots that have the ability for vertical climbing and locomotion in microgravity environments. This research focuses on developing a new technology that utilizes an array of small microspine grippers to provide the required forces to latch onto various types of rock formations. These grippers would increase a robot’s ability to effectively travel in a microgravity environment and would allow rovers to climb vertical rock faces efficiently. The research objectives will be to develop, prototype, test and optimize a new concept design for a compliant mechanism microspine gripper to achieve higher load sharing capabilities with the constraints of minimizing the overall area and stresses created within the design itself. Quick design prototypes will be iteratively manufactured and tested to check for feasibility, and a final design will be optimized through the use of linear and non-linear beam bending equations. The higher load sharing capabilities of the design will ensure that the microspines will not fail to grasp rock in critical NASA missions. A unique geometry compliant mechanism design would achieve these goals. This could ultimately lead to climbing robots that would possess a greater capability of harsh terrain and microgravity exploration with increased reliability.
2nd Place at Denman Undergraduate Research Forum
Academic Major: Mechanical Engineering