ESA-Haptics-1 (ESA-Haptics-1) - 10.20.16

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The objective of the Haptics-1 experiment is to perform an in-orbit engineering parameter calibration and identification for one joint of an exoskeleton haptic device, and to perform a set of performance measurements withthe  crew operating force reflective controllers in micro-gravity. For this purpose, a single degree of freedom motor-unit with a handle-bar and a control computer is launched to the International Space Station (ISS), to perform a set of identification experiments by the crew.
Science Results for Everyone
Haptics-1 tested configurations for controllers used to remotely operate robotics from orbit, including a controller unit mounted to the station wall and one that is part of a vest worn by the astronaut. The stiffness threshold for the wall mount ranged between 5 and 15 percent, with little variation between ground and space measurements. The vest mount produced a less-effective threshold of 15 to 25 percent, perhaps due to sway in the mechanical attachment. Overall, once astronauts spent three months in microgravity, results showed no deterioration in stiffness detection thresholds between orbit and ground data.

The following content was provided by Andre Schiele, Dr., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Information provided courtesy of the Erasmus Experiment Archive.
Experiment Details

OpNom: Haptics-1

Principal Investigator(s)
Andre Schiele, Dr., European Space Agency, Germany

M. Aiple, ESA
R. Holloway, ESA
S. Kimmer, ESA
N. Klein, ESA
T. Krueger, ESA
M. Nestoridi, ESA
J. Rebelo, ESA
Rogier Schonenborg, European Space Research and Technology Research Centre, Noordwijk, Netherlands
T. Sednaoui, ESA
J. Smisek, ESA
W. Van, ESA
F. Van Den Hulst, ESA
J. Wolf, ESA
E. den Exter, ESA

European Space Agency (ESA), Noordwijk, Netherlands

Sponsoring Space Agency
European Space Agency (ESA)

Sponsoring Organization
Information Pending

Research Benefits
Scientific Discovery, Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2014 - March 2016; March 2016 - February 2017

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

^ back to top

Experiment Description

Research Overview
Haptics-1 is an experiment designed to investigate the remote control of robots on the ground from up in orbit. The experiment is a simple-looking lever that can be moved freely to play simple Pong-style computer games. Behind the scenes a complex suite of servo motors can withstand any force an astronaut operator might unleash on it, while also generating forces that crewmembers can feel - just like a standard video gaming joystick as a player encounters an in-game obstacle. To prevent the joystick's force feedback pushing its free-floating user around, it is mounted to a body harness that can be fixed in turn to standard Station equipment.

Haptics-1 is an experiment that fits in the vision of astronauts controlling planetary explorers from orbit. Ideally, astronauts circling a planet would have as much feedback as possible to help control the robots exploring below them. An important aspect of this is haptic feedback - transferring touch and vibrations.

This is because the brain processes the feeling of touch and takes that into account when handling objects. Haptics-1 is looking at developing robots that transmit touch information to the astronaut, but until now no research has been carried out to see how people in space respond to force feedback. It is unknown if astronauts can feel and/or react the same as on Earth to generated vibrations, or how the feedback feels in space, where to prevent astronauts from floating away the feedback joystick has to be strapped to their bodies.

The system is made of a simple joystick that can move left or right. Behind the scenes, intricate servomotors can apply counterforce or vibrations. ESA Astronauts use the joystick to test the limits of feeling in experiments that are similar to the classic game Pong.

^ back to top


Space Applications
Future planetary exploration may well see robots on an alien surface being teleoperated by humans in orbit above them - close enough for realtime remote control, without any significant signal lag, to benefit from human resourcefulness without the expense and danger of a manned landing.

Earth Applications
Information Pending

^ back to top


Operational Requirements and Protocols
Information Pending

^ back to top

Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

^ back to top

Results/More Information

Haptics-1 will investigate several hand control configurations for remotely operating robotics from orbit. Several configurations were tested for the astronauts including a configuration were the bass of the control was mounted to the wall of the ISS and another where the controllers were actually part of a vest configuration mounted to the body of the astronaut who was performing the test. The stiffness discrimination thresholds for the wall mount configuration showed almost no variations between ground and ISS measurements. The stiffness threshold was between 5-15%. However the vest mount configuration produced a higher threshold of 15-25% which provided a less effective configuration, but this may be a factor of sway in the mechanical attachment. Overall, no deterioration in the stiffness detection thresholds was observed between orbit and ground data after astronauts had adjusted to 3 months of Micro-G. (Schiele A, 2016)

^ back to top

Results Publications

    Schiele A, Aiple M, Krueger T, Van Den Hulst F, Kimmer S, Smisek J, den Exter E.  Haptics-1: Preliminary results from the first stiffness JND identification experiment in space. Haptics: Perception, Devices, Control, and Applications; 2016.

^ back to top

Ground Based Results Publications

^ back to top

ISS Patents

^ back to top

Related Publications

^ back to top

Related Websites

^ back to top


NASA Image: ISS042E104052 - NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore working with the ESA- Haptics investigation.

+ View Larger Image

image NASA Image: ISS042E104047 - NASA astronauts Barry Wilmore working with the ESA- Haptics investigation.
+ View Larger Image

NASA Image: ISS045E109759 - Flight engineer Kjell Lindgren conducts European Space Agency (ESA)-Haptics-1 experiment operations (OPS) in the Columbus European Laboratory.

+ View Larger Image

NASA Image: ISS045E117207 - Flight engineer Kjell Lindgren conducts European Space Agency (ESA)-Haptics-1 vest-mounted experiment operations (OPS) in the Columbus European Laboratory.

+ View Larger Image

NASA Image: ISS045E117208 - Flight engineer Kjell Lindgren conducts European Space Agency (ESA)-Haptics-1 vest-mounted experiment operations (OPS) in the Columbus European Laboratory.

+ View Larger Image