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Assistive Free-Flyers with Gecko-Inspired Adhesive Appendages for Automated Logistics in Space

Mark Cutkosky
Stanford University

ESI15 Cutkosky Overview

Gecko-inspired adhesives provide a new capability for assistive free fliers (AFF) in space. In comparison with conventional grippers, they make it possible to attach and detach from surfaces with very low effort, simplifying control and motion planning for grasping and manipulating objects. The research includes (i) design and analysis of new adhesive grasping appendages, (ii) development and testing of new algorithms that leverage the adhesive capabilities for coordinated AFF motion planning and control and, (iii) testing prototypes in representative operations on zero-gravity test beds. The work aims to greatly reduce human time spent unpacking supplies, fetching tools and positioning and reading sensors inside space vehicles. It also paves the way for future extravehicular maintenance and exploration tasks.

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