Human Exploration Telerobotics Smartphone (HET-Smartphone) - 05.09.18

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Human Exploration Telerobotics-Smartphone (HET-Smartphone) demonstrates and assesses intravehicular activity (IVA) free-flyer telerobotic operations using SPHERES and remote operation of SPHERES by ground control and crew. HET-Smartphone assesses telerobotic operations in order to increase crew efficiency and productivity for future human exploration missions.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Terry Fong, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)
Terry Fong, Ph.D., NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, United States

Information Pending

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
Technology Demonstration Office (TDO)

Research Benefits
Information Pending

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2011 - September 2013; September 2017 - February 2018

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Assumption that Increments 29/30 and 31/32 objectives are completed; initial communication and camera tests to establish SPHERES as a mobile camera platform.

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • Improve the efficiency and productivity of human explorers. Increase the return (science,engineering) of human missions. Improve telerobotic operations for use beyond low Earth orbit.

  • Demonstrate ground-control and crew-control telerobotic concepts of operations. Demonstrate heterogeneous robots collaborating with human teams. Maturation of human-safe robotics in space environmental conditions.

  • Provide insight into the requirements, benefits, limitations, costs and risks of integrating telerobotics into future space exploration campaigns.

A key objective of the Human Exploration Telerobotics-Smartphone (HET-Smartphone) project is to assess how intravehicular activity (IVA) free-flyers improve the efficiency and productivity of human explorers, and increase the return (scientific, engineering, etc.) of human missions. To do this, HET-Smartphone conducts detailed experimentation and analysis of SPHERES/Smartphone remotely operated by ground controllers on Earth and crew on ISS. The results of these tests provide insight into the requirements, benefits, limitations, costs and risks of integrating telerobotics into future space exploration campaigns.

Future human missions to the Moon, Mars, and other destinations offer many new opportunities for exploration. But, extra-vehicular activity (EVA) is always limited due to consumables (e.g., oxygen), crew size, and the amount of “utilization” time. Robots, however, complement human explorers, performing work under remote control from a crew vehicle, or even from Earth. A central challenge, therefore, is to understand how human and robot activities are coordinated to maximize crew safety, mission success and scientific return.

Robots do a variety of work to increase the productivity of human explorers. Robots perform tasks (survey, inspection, etc.) that are tedious, highly repetitive or long-duration. Robots perform work that is beyond human capability, such as operating in dangerous environments. Robots perform precursor work, such as scouting, that helps prepare for future human activity. Robots also perform “follow-up” work, completing tasks designated by, or started by, humans.

The HET-Smartphone experiments:

    1) Demonstrate ground controlled and crew controlled telerobotic concepts of operation utilizing SPHERES/Smartphone in support of human exploration.

    2) Quantify benefits and limitations of humans on the surface controlling robots in orbit (must consider data network bandwidth, communications latency, control modes, concept of operations, etc.).

    3) Demonstrate heterogeneous robots collaborating with human teams (various team configurations including Earth-based ground control).

    4) Evaluate human-robot productivity, workload, safety, costs and performance.

    5) Mature human-safe robotics in space environmental conditions.

    6) Develop approach for maturing and infusing prototype systems into flight missions.

    7) Implement education and public outreach activities.

ISS Survey:

Assess increased ground control capabilities and minimize crew supervisory role. Assess increased ability of "near" real time ground control (evaluate SPHERES teleoperation based on predefined waypoints - no joystick control). Assess SPHERES ability to capture intelligible audio/video.

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Space Applications
HET-Smartphone identifies and quantifies requirements, architecture, operations concepts, costs and risks associated with telerobotic operations of free-flyers for future human exploration missions.

Earth Applications
HET-Smartphone explores many aspects of human-robot interaction including high-level control of robots over large time delays and limited bandwidth. Findings from these experiments benefit other earth based telerobotics tasks such as robot-assisted surgery, bomb squad robots, and remote industrial inspection.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols
One SPHERES objective. One crewmember (minimum) per SPHERES objective. One SPHERES (and supporting hardware) and Smartphone per objective. One SSC (for procedures) and one Express laptop (SPHERES GUI) per SPHERES objective. One SSC (to be specified) for wireless connectivity to Ops LAN. Downlink of data (post experiment) per objective. Real time Ku-Band AOS (Ops LAN conectivity) during objective. Still images of objective. One camcorder view of objective.
ISS Survey:

Crew performs SPHERES/Smartphone setup procedures. Ground teleoperates SPHERES using waypoints. Ground controls Smartphone sensors. Crew provides supervision to ensure safety.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

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Related Websites

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