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AE 585 Graduate Seminar Series - Autonomous In-Space Assembly: Recent Advances and Future Applications

Erik Komendera, Ph.D., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Thursday, November 15, 2018
4:00-5:30 PM
1109 Boeing Lecture Hall Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Building Map
Erik Komendera, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Director, Autonomous Field and Space Robotics Laboratory
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

With the retirement of the Space Shuttle program, the option to lift heavy payloads to orbit has become severely constrained. Industry has responded with low cost, small-lift launch vehicles. This has led to significant interest in constructing large space telescopes, orbital platforms, and habitats in place. The advent of robotic in-space assembly will mitigate the need for deployment mechanisms and enable assembly using multiple launch vehicles. This will lead to simplified architectures, interchangeable parts, and risk reduction. Mission concepts previously considered impossible will become feasible. Robotic assembly will be less risky and costly than assembly by astronauts, but outside of low-Earth orbit, these systems must be autonomous. Challenges in autonomous assembly include reasoning with uncertainties in the structure, agents, and environment; delegating a large variety of assembly tasks between heterogeneous robots; and making error corrections and adjustments as needed. In recent years, Dr. Komendera and NASA have developed methods to improve the practicality and reliability of assembly by: distributing tasks between specialized agents, employing optimal state estimation in the assembly workspace, using error-minimizing sequencing algorithms, and detecting and correcting failures. In this seminar, Dr. Komendera will describe these methods, the results of multiple recent robotic assembly experiments, and future applications.

About the speaker...

Dr. Erik Komendera is Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech, and director of the Autonomous Field and Space Robotics Laboratory. His research focuses on autonomous multi-agent construction on Earth, on orbit, and on the surfaces of other worlds, with an emphasis on robust algorithms to detect, classify, and repair failures during and after the assembly process. His current projects include a collaboration with NASA to develop robots and algorithms for constructing lunar habitats and on-orbit persistent platforms. He also works with industry to improve methods for autonomous assembly of variable components. He is also a member of the in-Space Assembled Telescope (iSAT) study team that will recommend an approach to assembling a space telescope. From 2014-2018, Dr. Komendera was a robotics researcher at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA. He earned his MS ('12) and PhD ('14) in Computer Science from the University of Colorado, and a BSE in Aerospace Engineering ('07) from the University of Michigan. At NASA, he served as assembly robot task lead on the project titled “Commercial Infrastructure for Robotic Assembly and Servicing” (CIRAS). In addition, he was the Principal Investigator for a Langley IRAD project to investigate methods for assembling solar arrays.ck
Building: Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Building
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Engineering
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Aerospace Engineering