RE2 Inc. has announced that it has been competitively awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program by the U.S. Navy to develop a Dexterous Manipulation System (DMS) for mobile robots and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) robotic platforms.
Many of the manipulators currently available for EOD robotic platforms cannot adequately manipulate small items commonly found in improvised explosive devices, such as wires and blasting caps. These current manipulators are limited because of the small number of degrees of freedom available and the primitive joint-by-joint control that is predominantly used. They also are limited because the operator does not receive any feedback on the amount of force the manipulator is applying, making it difficult to hold sensitive items without dropping or damaging them.
The goal of this SBIR program is to develop a dexterous manipulation system that can grasp objects in difficult to reach areas — such as removing a blasting cap from a target without moving the robot base or damaging the object. The system should also be able to pick up and manipulate objects, such as wires or blasting caps, from the ground.
During the eighteen-month Phase II, RE2 will perform the following:
• Develop and fabricate a practical prototype of a high degree-of-freedom dexterous manipulator for EOD and other missions requiring fine manipulation capabilities;
• Improve the situational awareness of the operator when controlling the dexterous manipulator from a remote, non-line-of-sight, location;
• Develop intelligent control strategies to allow the user to easily
command the manipulator that improves upon the current method of primitive joint-by-joint control;
• Develop advanced sensor feedback capabilities, including force and tactile feedback, to assist the operator with delicate operations. For more information, visit www.resquared.com.