Autonomous Robot Swarms for Lunar Orbit Servicing and Space Asset Assembly

PI: Joseph Paradiso, Ariel Ekblaw (Co-I), Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Autonomous Robot Swarms for Lunar Orbit Servicing and Space Asset Assembly demonstration will test two different kinds of robots—a “rovable” and an “inchworm”—to evaluate their swarm mobility and inspection capabilities in microgravity. These robots have the potential to support in-space manufacturing by working in swarms to assemble modular parts, perform quality control and inspections, and ultimately complete repairs and maintenance tasks. Four parabolic flights with Zero Gravity Corporation will assess the robots’ mobility, sensing accuracy, and overall performance.

Technology Areas (?)
  • NA
Problem Statement

In-space repairs, inspection, and maintenance can place a large burden on spacecraft crew and involve bulky and expensive parts. Small robot swarms would support in-space manufacturing and thereby reduce the resources needed from Earth for maintenance on long-duration space travel. These robot swarms also offer a low-cost solution for the automation of in-orbit servicing.

Technology Maturation

In addition to supporting manufacturing and inspection tasks, this flight demonstration will evaluate the robots’ capabilities for exploration and discovery on the lunar surface.The swarm architecture’s communication networks could offer a basic infrastructure from which to establish wireless connectivity in an operating environment. Flight tests will advance the robots’ mobility and inspection capacity in microgravity, maturing the platform to TRL 7.

Future Customers

•Commercial space missions
•Commercial in-space manufacturing industry
•Potential for use on NASA’s Gateway and on the International Space Station
•Ground-based surveying and maintenance applications

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
    TechFlights20 (Sep 2020)
  • Program Status
  • Current TRL (?)
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 1 Parabolic

Development Team

Web Accessibility and Privacy Notices Curator: Alexander van Dijk Responsible NASA Official: Stephan Ord Last Update: November 16, 2018