Abstract: As the orbital space around earth becomes increasingly crowded, there is an increasing need to capture and manipulate objects ranging from satellites and antennas to “uncooperative” space debris. Robots have been proposed as a solution for clearing debris and manipulating objects in space. However, many of the traditional techniques used for robotic grasping and manipulation will not work. Gecko-inspired adhesives are promising technology, as they work in vacuum, at high and low temperatures, and do not require special hand-holds or other fixtures. Tests in microgravity and in the International Space station have shown that “gecko grippers” are a viable option for eliminating space debris in low Earth orbit and for enhancing missions in space.
Speaker Bio: Professor Mark Cutkosky applies analyses, simulations, and experiments to the design and control of robotic hands, tactile sensors, and devices for human/computer interaction. In manufacturing, his work focuses on design tools for rapid prototyping.