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Robonaut 2 Technologies Available for Licensing

For use in logistics and distribution, medical and industrial robotics, and hazardous, toxic, or remote environments

Robonaut2 Applications
Learn about:

What Makes R2 Unique
Robonaut2 Applications
How to License R2 Technologies
Technologies Available for Licensing
R2 Opportunity Webcast
Links to More Information
How to Contact Us

Researchers at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC), in collaboration with General Motors and Oceaneering, have designed a state-of-the-art, highly dexterous, humanoid robot: Robonaut 2 (R2). R2 is made up of multiple component technologies and systems -- vision systems, image recognition systems, sensor integrations, tendon hands, control algorithms, and much more. R2's nearly 50 patented and patent-pending technologies have the potential to be game-changers in multiple industries, including logistics and distribution, medical and industrial robotics, as well as hazardous, toxic, or remote environments.

› Learn more about the R2 licensing opportunity in this webcast.



What Makes R2 Unique?

State-of-the-Art Systems

The robot encompasses four elemental systems.

Hands: R2's unprecedented dexterity in its hands allows it to use many of the same tools that astronauts and industry workers currently use, significantly reducing the need for specialized tools to perform multiple tasks.

Arms: R2's arms are soft at multiple levels and the robot always knows where its limbs are in space. They have redundant force sensing and R2 can safely work side-by-side with humans as it is currently doing on-board the International Space Station.

Sensing and Perception: R2 shares senses similar to humans: the ability to touch and see. These senses allow it to perform in ways that are not typical for robots today.

Interface and Control: R2 can function autonomously or it can be controlled by direct teleoperation. When functioning autonomously, R2 understands what to do and how to do it based on sensory input. The robot uses its vision, force, and tactile sensing to carry out tasks in real time.

Extraordinary Dexterity

Robonaut2 The robot has the flexibility to use human tools and adapt to the task at hand, whether serving as an assistant or stand-in for astronauts during spacewalks or handling tasks too difficult or dangerous for humans. For industrial environments, this dexterity is also a key feature, as R2 has the flexibility to roll something out, hold a drill, use a pair of wire-cutters, or sort through a bin of parts. In addition, R2 can handle factory work that is ergonomically difficult, repetitious, fatiguing, or unsafe.

Safely Works Alongside Humans

R2 can do all of these things side-by-side with humans. The robot moves at human speed. Its skin is soft and padded and it can sense through its safety systems when it comes into contact with someone. There are torsion springs inside the robot that provide force control – so when a person pushes away the robot's arm, it gives easily. And the robot always knows where its limbs are, making it safe for operation around people and delicate equipment.


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Robonaut2 Applications

Logistics and distribution Logistics and Distribution
While robotic technologies are already being used in logistics and distribution, R2 allows for much more complex and delicate operations that require a more sophisticated level of interaction. In terms of handling inventory, R2's dexterous systems allow it to handle a multitude of oddly shaped or delicate items. In addition, it can perform in close proximity to humans, allowing for the use of robotics in areas where it's not currently safe or practical.

Industrial Industrial
Because General Motors explicitly designed R2 to meet the specifications of the factory floor, Robonaut is ideally suited for industrial applications. The robot's ability to retool and vary its tasks offers an enormous advantage in a manufacturing environment. R2 can operate equipment and machines designed for humans, like drills or forklifts. It can turn a gear knob, spin a wheel, fold a piece of fabric, or flip a switch. R2 can also be used in scenarios where dangerous chemicals, biological, or nuclear materials are part of the manufacturing process or in the facility environment.

Medical Medical
R2 technologies can aid in a variety of medical applications, ranging from telemedicine to handling the logistics of medical procedures. Similar to the assembly line on a factory floor, a hospital environment involves repetitive tasks that are ripe for automation. R2 technologies would be advantageous during situations where a biomedical hazard poses risks to humans, such as a contagious outbreak or a combat situation. For more routine daily use, it can handle time-consuming tasks of counting, sorting, inspecting, and processing. By having a robot handle these activities, it frees up hospital staff to focus on the work that humans are best at and it also reduces the likelihood for human errors.
› Watch this video: Robonaut Supports Telemedicine Advances

Hazardous, toxic, or remote environments Hazardous, toxic, or remote environments
Robonaut 2 as a whole, or some of its components, can be an invaluable tool for land mine detection, bomb disposal, search and rescue, waste recycling, medical quarantined area, and so much more. By handling chemical and hazardous materials, R2 reduces or eliminates the need for humans to be exposed to dangerous situations. The technology can also relieve humans from the most repetitive, dangerous, and time-consuming parts of oil field work.


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How to License R2 Technologies

Robonauts The entire R2 system is made up of nearly 50 patented or patent pending technologies. These patents cover the robot's interface and controls, as well as its sensors, actuators, and mechanical parts. All of these technologies are available for licensing.

Licensing opportunities exist not only for the total R2 package, but also for licensing a single R2 technology or a small number of bundled technologies. Please contact us to learn more about licensing opportunities.

› Learn more about licensing technologies from NASA's Johnson Space Center


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Technologies Available for Licensing or Partnering

hands


U.S. Patent No.:
8,412,378

German Patent Application:
DE102010052692A1

Japanese Patent No.:
JP5242664

In-Vivo Tension Calibration In Tendon-Driven Manipulators (MSC-24926-1)

Abstract:

A method for calibrating tension sensors on tendons in a tendon-driven manipulator without disassembling the manipulator and without external force references. The method calibrates the tensions against each other to produce results that are kinematically consistent. The results might not be absolutely accurate, however, they are optimized with respect to an initial or nominal calibration. The method includes causing the tendons to be slack and recording the sensor values from sensors that measure the tension on the tendons. The method further includes tensioning the tendons with the manipulator positioned so that it is not in contact with any obstacle or joint limit and again recording the sensor values. The method then performs a regression process to determine the sensor parameters that both satisfy a zero-torque constraint on the manipulator and minimize the error with respect to nominal calibration values.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,060,250

German Patent Application:
DE102009057285A1

Japanese Patent Application:
JP2010149274

Joint-Space Impedance Control for Tendon-Driven Manipulators (MSC-24686-1)

Abstract:

A system and method for controlling tendon-driven manipulators that provide a closed-loop control of joint torques or joint impedances without inducing dynamic coupling between joints. The method includes calculating tendon reference positions or motor commands by projecting a torque error into tendon position space using a single linear operation. The method calculates this torque error using sensed tendon tensions and a reference torque and internal tension. The method can be used to control joint impedance by calculating the reference torque based on a joint position error. The method limits minimum and maximum tendon tensions by projecting the torque error into the tendon tension space and then projecting it back into joint space.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,565,918

German Patent Application:
DE102010018746A1

Chinese Patent No.:
CN102029610 B

Underactuated Design and Control of a Tendon-Driven Finger (MSC-24753-1)

Abstract:

A robotic system includes a robot having a total number of degrees of freedom (DOF) equal to at least n, an underactuated tendon-driven finger driven by n tendons and n DOF, the finger having at least two joints, being characterized by an asymmetrical joint radius in one embodiment. A controller is in communication with the robot, and controls actuation of the tendon-driven finger using force control. Operating the finger with force control on the tendons, rather than position control, eliminates the unconstrained slack-space that would have otherwise existed. The controller may utilize the asymmetrical joint radii to independently command joint torques. A method of controlling the finger includes commanding either independent or parameterized joint torques to the controller to actuate the fingers via force control on the tendons.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,412,376

German Patent Application:
DE102010018759 A1

Chinese Patent Application:
102145489

Tension Distribution in a Tendon-Driven Robotic Finger (MSC-24751-1)

Abstract:

A method is provided for distributing tension among tendons of a tendon-driven finger in a robotic system, wherein the finger characterized by n degrees of freedom and n+1 tendons. The method includes determining a maximum functional tension and a minimum functional tension of each tendon of the finger, and then using a controller to distribute tension among the tendons, such that each tendon is assigned a tension value less than the maximum functional tension and greater than or equal to the minimum functional tension. The method satisfies the minimum functional tension while minimizing the internal tension in the robotic system, and satisfies the maximum functional tension without introducing a coupled disturbance to the joint torques. A robotic system includes a robot having at least one tendon-driven finger characterized by n degrees of freedom and n+1 tendons, and a controller having an algorithm for controlling the tendons as set forth above.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,489,239

German Patent Application:
DE102011117094A1

Japanese Patent No.:
JP5406893

Robust Operation of Tendon-Driven Robot Fingers Using Force and Position-Based Control Laws (MSC-24930-1)

Abstract:

A robotic system includes a tendon-driven finger and a control system. The system controls the finger via a force-based control law when a tension sensor is available, and via a position-based control law when a sensor is not available. Multiple tendons may each have a corresponding sensor. The system selectively injects a compliance value into the position-based control law when only some sensors are available. A control system includes a host machine and a non-transitory computer-readable medium having a control process, which is executed by the host machine to control the finger via the force- or position-based control law. A method for controlling the finger includes determining the availability of a tension sensor(s), and selectively controlling the finger, using the control system, via the force or position-based control law. The position control law allows the control system to resist disturbances while nominally maintaining the initial state of internal tendon tensions.




U.S. Patent Application:
20130041502

German Patent Application:
DE102012213957A1

Japanese Patent Application:
JP2013039657

Fast Grasp Contact Computation for a Serial Robot (MSC-25219-1)

Abstract:

A system includes a controller and a serial robot having links that are interconnected by a joint, wherein the robot can grasp a three-dimensional (3d) object in response to a commanded grasp pose. The controller receives input information, including the commanded grasp pose, a first set of information describing the kinematics of the robot, and a second set of information describing the position of the object to be grasped. The controller also calculates, in a two-dimensional (2d) plane, a set of contact points between the serial robot and a surface of the 3d object needed for the serial robot to achieve the commanded grasp pose. A required joint angle is then calculated in the 2d plane between the pair of links using the set of contact points. A control action is then executed with respect to the motion of the serial robot using the required joint angle.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,276,958

German Patent No.:
DE102009052474B4

Japanese Patent No.:
JP5015224

Bidirectional Tendon Terminator (MSC-24570-1)

Abstract:

A bidirectional tendon terminator that has particular application for terminating a tendon that actuates a finger in a robotic arm. The tendon terminator includes a cylindrical member having an internal channel through which a single continuous piece of the tendon extends. The internal channel of the tendon terminator includes a widened portion. A ball is placed in the tendon strands, which causes the tendon to expand, and the ball is positioned within the widened portion of the channel. Pulling on the tendon operates to either open or close the finger of the robotic arm depending on which direction the tendon is pulled. In one specific embodiment, the cylinder includes two cylindrical pieces that are coupled together so that the ball can be positioned within the channel and the cylindrical member has an entire circumference of material.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,424,941

German Patent No.:
DE102010045532B4

Japanese Patent No.:
JP5357847

Robotic Thumb Assembly (MSC-24745-1)

Abstract:

An improved robotic thumb for a robotic hand assembly is provided. According to one aspect of the disclosure, improved tendon routing in the robotic thumb provides control of four degrees of freedom with only five tendons. According to another aspect of the disclosure, one of the five degrees of freedom of a human thumb is replaced in the robotic thumb with a permanent twist in the shape of a phalange. According to yet another aspect of the disclosure, a position sensor includes a magnet having two portions shaped as circle segments with different center points. The magnet provides a linearized output from a Hall effect sensor.




Japanese Patent Application:
JP2013237152

Robotic Thumb Assembly (MSC-24745-2)

Abstract:

An improved robotic thumb for a robotic hand assembly is provided. According to one aspect of the disclosure, improved tendon routing in the robotic thumb provides control of four degrees of freedom with only five tendons. According to another aspect of the disclosure, one of the five degrees of freedom of a human thumb is replaced in the robotic thumb with a permanent twist in the shape of a phalange. According to yet another aspect of the disclosure, a position sensor includes a magnet having two portions shaped as circle segments with different center points. The magnet provides a linearized output from a Hall effect sensor.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,562,049

German Patent Application:
DE102010045555A1

Japanese Patent No.:
JP5241781

Robotic Finger Assembly (MSC-24740-1)

Abstract:

A robotic hand includes a finger with first, second, and third phalanges. A first joint rotatably connects the first phalange to a base structure. A second joint rotatably connects the first phalange to the second phalange. A third joint rotatably connects the third phalange to the second phalange. The second joint and the third joint are kinematically linked such that the position of the third phalange with respect to the second phalange is determined by the position of the second phalange with respect to the first phalange.




U.S. Patent Application:
20130193704A1

German Patent Application:
DE102010045555A1

Robotic Finger Assembly (MSC-24740-2)

Abstract:

A robotic hand includes a finger with first, second, and third phalanges. A first joint rotatably connects the first phalange to a base structure. A second joint rotatably connects the first phalange to the second phalange. A third joint rotatably connects the third phalange to the second phalange. The second joint and the third joint are kinematically linked such that the position of the third phalange with respect to the second phalange is determined by the position of the second phalange with respect to the first phalange.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,467,903

German Patent Application:
DE102010045343 A1

Japanese Patent No.:
JP5265635

Tendon Driven Finger Actuation System (MSC-24735-1)

Abstract:

A humanoid robot includes a robotic hand having at least one finger. An actuation system for the robotic finger includes an actuator assembly, which is supported by the robot and is spaced apart from the finger. A tendon extends from the actuator assembly to the at least one finger and ends in a tendon terminator. The actuator assembly is operable to actuate the tendon to move the tendon terminator and, thus, the finger.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,401,700

German Patent Application:
DE102010045526A1

Japanese Patent No.:
JP5279769

Actuator and Electronics Packaging for Extrinsic Humanoid Hand (MSC-24737-1)

Abstract:

The lower arm assembly for a humanoid robot includes an arm support having a first side and a second side, a plurality of wrist actuators mounted to the first side of the arm support, a plurality of finger actuators mounted to the second side of the arm support and a plurality of electronics also located on the first side of the arm support.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,618,762

German Patent Application:
DE102012001386A1

Japanese Patent No.:
JP5367049

System and Method for Tensioning a Robotically Actuated Tendon (MSC-25056-1)

Abstract:

A tendon tensioning system includes a tendon having a proximal end and a distal end, an actuator, and a motor controller. The actuator may include a drive screw and a motor, and may be coupled with the proximal end of the tendon and configured to apply a tension through the tendon in response to an electrical current. The motor controller may be electrically coupled with the actuator, and configured to provide an electrical current having a first amplitude to the actuator until a stall tension is achieved through the tendon; provide a pulse current to the actuator following the achievement of the stall tension, where the amplitude of the pulse current is greater than the first amplitude, and return the motor to a steady state holding current following the conclusion of the pulse current.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,498,741

German Patent Application:
DE102010045525A1

Japanese Patent No.:
JP5388966

Dexterous Humanoid Robotic Wrist (MSC-24734-1)

Abstract:

A humanoid robot includes a torso, a pair of arms, a neck, a head, a wrist joint assembly, and a control system. The arms and the neck movably extend from the torso. Each of the arms includes a lower arm and a hand that is rotatable relative to the lower arm. The wrist joint assembly is operatively defined between the lower arm and the hand. The wrist joint assembly includes a yaw axis and a pitch axis. The pitch axis is disposed in a spaced relationship to the yaw axis such that the axes are generally perpendicular. The pitch axis extends between the yaw axis and the lower arm. The hand is rotatable relative to the lower arm about each of the yaw axis and the pitch axis. The control system is configured for determining a yaw angle and a pitch angle of the wrist joint assembly.


Roboglove and wearables


U.S. Patent No.:
8,255,079

German Patent Application:
DE102010045342A1

Japanese Patent No.:
JP5374459

Human Grasp Assist Device and Method of Use (MSC-24741-1)

Abstract:

A grasp assist device includes a glove portion having phalange rings, contact sensors for measuring a grasping force applied by an operator wearing the glove portion, and a tendon drive system (TDS). The device has flexible tendons connected to the phalange rings for moving the rings in response to feedback signals from the sensors. The TDS is connected to each of the tendons, and applies an augmenting tensile force thereto via a microcontroller adapted for determining the augmenting tensile force as a function of the grasping force. A method of augmenting a grasping force of an operator includes measuring the grasping force using the sensors, encoding the grasping force as the feedback signals, and calculating the augmenting tensile force as a function of the feedback signals using the microcontroller. The method includes energizing at least one actuator of a tendon drive system (TDS) to thereby apply the augmenting tensile force.




U.S. Patent Application:
20130226350A1

German Patent Application:
DE102013202749A1

Japanese Patent No.:
JP5192281

Human Grasp Assist Controls (MSC-25320-1)

Abstract:

A grasp assist system includes a glove and sleeve. The glove includes a digit, i.e., a finger or thumb, and a force sensor. The sensor measures a grasping force applied to an object by an operator wearing the glove. The glove contains a tendon connected at a first end to the digit. The sleeve has an actuator assembly connected to a second end of the tendon and a controller in communication with the sensor. The controller includes a configuration module having selectable operating modes and a processor that calculates a tensile force to apply to the tendon for each of the selectable operating modes to assist the grasping force in a manner that differs for each of the operating modes. A method includes measuring the grasping force, selecting the mode, calculating the tensile force, and applying the tensile force to the tendon using the actuator assembly




U.S. Patent Application:
20130219586A1

German Patent Application:
DE102013202760A1

Japanese Patent No.:
JP5462344

Human Grasp Assist Soft (MSC-25318-1)

Abstract:

A grasp assist system includes a glove and a flexible sleeve. The glove includes a digit such as a finger or thumb, a force sensor configured to measure a grasping force applied to an object by an operator wearing the glove, and adjustable phalange rings positioned with respect to the digit. A saddle is positioned with respect to the finger. A flexible tendon is looped at one end around the saddle. A conduit contains the tendon. A conduit anchor secured within a palm of the glove receives the conduit. The sleeve has pockets containing an actuator assembly connected to another end of the tendon and a controller. The controller is in communication with the force sensor, and calculates a tensile force in response to the measured grasping force. The controller commands the tensile force from the actuator assembly to tension the tendon and thereby move the finger.




Japanese Patent Application:
JP2014064953

Human Grasp Assist Soft (MSC-25318-2)

Abstract:

A grasp assist system includes a glove and a flexible sleeve. The glove includes a digit such as a finger or thumb, a force sensor configured to measure a grasping force applied to an object by an operator wearing the glove, and adjustable phalange rings positioned with respect to the digit. A saddle is positioned with respect to the finger. A flexible tendon is looped at one end around the saddle. A conduit contains the tendon. A conduit anchor secured within a palm of the glove receives the conduit. The sleeve has pockets containing an actuator assembly connected to another end of the tendon and a controller. The controller is in communication with the force sensor, and calculates a tensile force in response to the measured grasping force. The controller commands the tensile force from the actuator assembly to tension the tendon and thereby move the finger.




U.S. Patent Application:
20130219585A1

German Patent Application:
DE102013202745A1

Japanese Patent Application:
JP2013181271

Human Grasp Assist (MSC-25319-1)

Abstract:

A grasp assist system includes a glove, actuator assembly, and controller. The glove includes a digit, i.e., a finger or thumb, and a force sensor. The sensor measures a grasping force applied to an object by an operator wearing the glove. Phalange rings are positioned with respect to the digit. A flexible tendon is connected at one end to one of the rings and is routed through the remaining rings. An exoskeleton positioned with respect to the digit includes hinged interconnecting members each connected to a corresponding ring, and/or a single piece of slotted material. The actuator assembly is connected to another end of the tendon. The controller calculates a tensile force in response to the measured grasping force, and commands the tensile force from the actuator assembly to thereby pull on the tendon. The exoskeleton offloads some of the tensile force from the operator's finger to the glove.


Arms


U.S. Patent No.:
8,442,684

German Patent Application:
DE102010045554A1

Japanese Patent Application:
JP2011079123

Integrated High-Speed Torque Control System for a Robotic Joint (MSC-24742-1)

Abstract:

A control system for achieving high-speed torque for a joint of a robot includes a printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) having a collocated joint processor and high-speed communication bus. The PCBA may also include a power inverter module (PIM) and local sensor conditioning electronics (SCA) for processing sensor data from one or more motor position sensors. Torque control of a motor of the joint is provided via the PCBA as a high-speed torque loop. Each joint processor may be embedded within or collocated with the robotic joint being controlled. Collocation of the joint processor, PIM, and high-speed bus may increase noise immunity of the control system, and the localized processing of sensor data from the joint motor at the joint level may minimize bus cabling to and from each control node. The joint processor may include a field programmable gate array (FPGA).




U.S. Patent No.:
8,176,809

German Patent Application:
DE102009056671A1

Japanese Patent No.:
JP5011627

Planar Torsion Spring (MSC-24569-1)

Abstract:

A torsion spring comprises an inner mounting segment. An outer mounting segment is located concentrically around the inner mounting segment. A plurality of splines extends from the inner mounting segment to the outer mounting segment. At least a portion of each spline extends generally annularly around the inner mounting segment.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,291,788

German Patent Application:
DE102010045531A1

Japanese Patent No.:
JP5480081

Rotary Series Elastic Actuator (MSC-24736-1)

Abstract:

A rotary actuator assembly is provided for actuation of an upper arm assembly for a dexterous humanoid robot. The upper arm assembly for the humanoid robot includes a plurality of arm support frames each defining an axis. A plurality of rotary actuator assemblies are each mounted to one of the plurality of arm support frames about the respective axes. Each rotary actuator assembly includes a motor mounted about the respective axis, a gear drive rotatably connected to the motor, and a torsion spring. The torsion spring has a spring input that is rotatably connected to an output of the gear drive and a spring output that is connected to an output for the joint.




US Patent No.:
8,443,694

Rotary Series Elastic Actuator (MSC-24736-2)

Abstract:

A rotary actuator assembly is provided for actuation of an upper arm assembly for a dexterous humanoid robot. The upper arm assembly for the humanoid robot includes a plurality of arm support frames each defining an axis. A plurality of rotary actuator assemblies are each mounted to one of the plurality of arm support frames about the respective axes. Each rotary actuator assembly includes a motor mounted about the respective axis, a gear drive rotatably connected to the motor, and a torsion spring. The torsion spring has a spring input that is rotatably connected to an output of the gear drive and a spring output that is connected to an output for the joint.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,291,788

Rotary Series Elastic Actuator (MSC-24736-3)

Abstract:

A rotary actuator assembly is provided for actuation of an upper arm assembly for a dexterous humanoid robot. The upper arm assembly for the humanoid robot includes a plurality of arm support frames each defining an axis. A plurality of rotary actuator assemblies are each mounted to one of the plurality of arm support frames about the respective axes. Each rotary actuator assembly includes a motor mounted about the respective axis, a gear drive rotatably connected to the motor, and a torsion spring. The torsion spring has a spring input that is rotatably connected to an output of the gear drive and a spring output that is connected to an output for the joint.


Sensing


U.S. Patent No.:
8,265,792

German Patent Application:
DE102011016113A1

Japanese Patent Application:
JP2014012337

Method and Apparatus for Calibrating Multi-Axis Load Cells in a Dexterous Robot (MSC-24817-1)

Abstract:

A robotic system includes a dexterous robot having robotic joints, angle sensors adapted for measuring joint angles at a corresponding one of the joints, load cells for measuring a set of strain values imparted to a corresponding one of the load cells during a predetermined pose of the robot, and a host machine. The host machine is electrically connected to the load cells and angle sensors, and receives the joint angle values and strain values during the predetermined pose. The robot presses together mating pairs of load cells to form the poses. The host machine executes an algorithm to process the joint angles and strain values, and from the set of all calibration matrices that minimize error in force balance equations, selects the set of calibration matrices that is closest in a value to a pre-specified value. A method for calibrating the load cells via the algorithm is also provided.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,250,901

German Patent Application:
DE102010045556A1

Japanese Patent No.:
JP5383607

System and Method for Calibrating a Rotary Absolute Position Sensor (MSC-24743-1)

Abstract:

A system includes a rotary device, a rotary absolute position (RAP) sensor generating encoded pairs of voltage signals describing positional data of the rotary device, a host machine, and an algorithm. The algorithm calculates calibration parameters usable to determine an absolute position of the rotary device using the encoded pairs, and is adapted for linearly mapping an ellipse defined by the encoded pairs to thereby calculate the calibration parameters. A method of calibrating the RAP sensor includes measuring the rotary position as encoded pairs of voltage signals, linearly mapping an ellipse defined by the encoded pairs to thereby calculate the calibration parameters, and calculating an absolute position of the rotary device using the calibration parameters. The calibration parameters include a positive definite matrix (a) and a center point (q) of the ellipse. The voltage signals may include an encoded sine and cosine of a rotary angle of the rotary device.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,244,402

German Patent Application:
DE102010045752A1

Japanese Patent Application:
JP2011067941

Visual Perception System and Method for a Humanoid Robot (MSC-24747-1)

Abstract:

A robotic system includes a humanoid robot with robotic joints each moveable using an actuator(s), and a distributed controller for controlling the movement of each of the robotic joints. The controller includes a visual perception module (VPM) for visually identifying and tracking an object in the field of view of the robot under threshold lighting conditions. The VPM includes optical devices for collecting an image of the object, a positional extraction device, and a host machine having an algorithm for processing the image and positional information. The algorithm visually identifies and tracks the object, and automatically adapts an exposure time of the optical devices to prevent feature data loss of the image under the threshold lighting conditions. A method of identifying and tracking the object includes collecting the image, extracting positional information of the object, and automatically adapting the exposure time to thereby prevent feature data loss of the image.




US Patent No.:
8,371,177

German Patent Application:
DE102009042979A1

Japanese Patent No.:
JP4921533

Tendon Tension Sensor (MSC-24571-1)

Abstract:

A tendon tension sensor that has particular application for measuring tension on a tendon employed in a robotic arm. The tension sensor includes an elastic element having a curved channel through which the tendon is threaded. The elastic element also includes a center portion on which strain gauges are mounted that measure the strain on the elastic element. Tension on the tendon causes the center portion of the elastic element to flex or bend, which is measured by the strain gauges providing an indication of the tension in the tendon.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,280,837

German Patent Application:
DE102010021607A1

Japanese Patent Filing No.:
2010122808

Contact State Estimation For Multi-Finger Robot Hands Using Particle Filters (MSC-24688-1)

Abstract:

A method for identifying the location, orientation and shape of an object that a robot hand touches that includes using a particle filter. The method includes defining an appropriate motion model and a measurement model. The motion model characterizes the motion of the robot hand as it moves relative to the object. The measurement model estimates the likelihood of an observation of contact position, velocity and tactile sensor information given hand-object states. The measurement model is approximated analytically based on a geometric model or based on a corpus of training data. In either case, the measurement model distribution is encoded as a Gaussian or using radial basis functions.




U.S. Patent No.:
7,784,363

German Patent Application:
DE102009042975A1

Japanese Patent No.:
JP4955740

Phalange Tactile Load Cell (MSC-24689-1)

Abstract:

A tactile load cell that has particular application for measuring the load on a phalange in a dexterous robot system. The load cell includes a flexible strain element having first and second end portions that can be used to mount the load cell to the phalange and a center portion that can be used to mount a suitable contact surface to the load cell. The strain element also includes a first s-shaped member including at least three sections connected to the first end portion and the center portion and a second s-shaped member including at least three sections coupled to the second end portion and the center portion. The load cell also includes eight strain gauge pairs where each strain gauge pair is mounted to opposing surfaces of one of the sections of the s-shaped members where the strain gauge pairs provide strain measurements in six-degrees of freedom.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,056,423

German Patent Application:
DE102009052478A1

Japanese Patent No.:
JP4967007

Sensing the Tendon Tension Through the Conduit Reaction Forces (MSC-24685-1)

Abstract:

A technique that determines the tension in a tendon using a conduit reaction force applied to an end of a conduit through which the tendon is threaded. Any suitable tendon tension sensor can be employed that uses the conduit reaction force for this purpose. In one non-limiting embodiment, the tendon tension sensor includes a cylindrical strain gauge element and a force member mounted to an end of the conduit. The force member includes a cylindrical portion having a bore and a plate portion, where the cylindrical portion is inserted into a bore in the strain gauge element. The tendon is threaded through the strain gauge element and the force member. A strain gauge is mounted to the strain gauge element and measures the reaction force when tension on the tendon causes the strain gauge element to be pushed against the force member.


Interface and Control


U.S. Patent No.:
8,369,992

German Patent Application:
DE102010045345B4

Japanese Patent Application:
JP2011067942

Embedded Diagnostic, Prognostic, and Health Management System and Method for a Humanoid Robot (MSC-24744-1)

Abstract:

A robotic system includes a humanoid robot with multiple compliant joints, each moveable using one or more of the actuators, and having sensors for measuring control and feedback data. A distributed controller controls the joints and other integrated system components over multiple high-speed communication networks. Diagnostic, prognostic, and health management (DPHM) modules are embedded within the robot at the various control levels. Each DPHM module measures, controls, and records DPHM data for the respective control level/connected device in a location that is accessible over the networks or via an external device. A method of controlling the robot includes embedding a plurality of the DPHM modules within multiple control levels of the distributed controller, using the DPHM modules to measure DPHM data within each of the control levels, and recording the DPHM data in a location that is accessible over at least one of the high-speed communication networks.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,525,460

German Patent Application:
DE102011009669A1

Japanese Patent Filing No.:
20145590

Architecture for Robust Force and Impedance Control of Series Elastic Actuators (MSC-24755-1)

Abstract:

An SEA architecture for controlling the torque applied by an SEA that has particular application for controlling the position of a robot link. The SEA architecture includes a motor coupled to one end of an elastic spring and a load coupled to an opposite end of the elastic spring, where the motor drives the load through the spring. The orientation of the shaft of the motor and the load are measured by position sensors. Position signals from the position sensors are sent to an embedded processor that determines the orientation of the load relative to the motor shaft to determine the torque on the spring. The embedded processor receives reference torque signals from a remote controller, and the embedded processor operates a high-speed servo loop about the desired joint torque. The remote controller determines the desired joint torque based on higher order objectives by their impedance or positioning objectives.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,170,718

German Patent Application:
DE102009058004A1

Japanese Patent No.:
JP5457161

Multiple Priority Operational Space Impedance Control (MSC-24687-1)

Abstract:

A system and method for providing multiple priority impedance control for a robot manipulator where impedance laws are realized simultaneously and with a given order of priority. The method includes a control scheme for realizing a cartesian space impedance objective as a first priority while also realizing a joint space impedance objective as a second priority. The method also includes a control scheme for realizing two cartesian space impedance objectives with different levels of priority. The method includes instances of the control schemes that use feedback from force sensors mounted at an end-effector and other instances of the control schemes that do not use this feedback.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,364,314

German Patent Application:
DE102010018438A1

Japanese Patent No.:
JP5180989

Chinese Patent No.:
CN101947786A

Method and Apparatus for Automatic Control of a Humanoid Robot (MSC-24732-1)

Abstract:

A robotic system includes a humanoid robot having a plurality of joints adapted for force control with respect to an object acted upon by the robot, a graphical user interface (GUI) for receiving an input signal from a user, and a controller. The GUI provides the user with intuitive programming access to the controller. The controller controls the joints using an impedance-based control framework, which provides object level, end-effector level, and/or joint space-level control of the robot in response to the input signal. A method for controlling the robotic system includes receiving the input signal via the GUI, e.g., a desired force, and then processing the input signal using a host machine to control the joints via an impedance-based control framework. The framework provides object level, end-effector level, and/or joint space-level control of the robot, and allows for functional-based GUI to simplify implementation of a myriad of operating modes.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,483,882

German Patent Application:
DE102010018440A1

Chinese Patent No.:
CN101947787 B

Hierarchical Robot Control System and Method for Controlling Select Degrees of Freedom of an Object Using Multiple Manipulators (MSC-24750-1)

Abstract:

A robotic system includes a robot having manipulators for grasping an object using one of a plurality of grasp types during a primary task, and a controller. The controller controls the manipulators [dining] the primary task using a multiple-task control hierarchy, and automatically parameterizes the internal forces of the system for each grasp type in response to an input signal. The primary task is defined at an object-level of control e.g., using a closed-chain transformation, such that only select degrees of freedom are commanded for the object. A control system for the robotic system has a host machine and algorithm for controlling the manipulators using the above hierarchy. A method for controlling the system includes receiving and processing the input signal using the host machine, including defining the primary task at the object-level of control, e.g., using a closed-chain definition, and parameterizing the internal forces for each of grasp type.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,260,460

German Patent Application:
DE102010045529A1

Japanese Patent Application:
JP2011067943

Interactive Robot Control System and Method of Use (MSC-24746-1)

Abstract:

A robotic system includes a robot having joints, actuators, and sensors, and a distributed controller. The controller includes command-level controller, embedded joint-level controllers each controlling a respective joint, and a joint coordination-level controller coordinating motion of the joints. A central data library (CDL) centralizes all control and feedback data, and a user interface displays a status of each joint, actuator, and sensor using the CDL. A parameterized action sequence has a hierarchy of linked events, and allows the control data to be modified in real time. A method of controlling the robot includes transmitting control data through the various levels of the controller, routing all control and feedback data to the CDL, and displaying status and operation of the robot using the CDL. The parameterized action sequences are generated for execution by the robot, and a hierarchy of linked events is created within the sequence.




U.S. Patent Application:
20110071672

German Patent Application:
DE102010045528A1

Japanese Patent No.:
JP2013176847

Framework and Method for Controlling a Robotic System Using a Distributed Computer Network (MSC-24738-1)

Abstract:

A robotic system for performing an autonomous task includes a humanoid robot having a plurality of compliant robotic joints, actuators, and other integrated system devices that are controllable in response to control data from various control points, and having sensors for measuring feedback data at the control points. The system includes a multi-level distributed control framework (DCF) for controlling the integrated system components over multiple high-speed communication networks. The DCF has a plurality of first controllers each embedded in a respective one of the integrated system components, e.g., the robotic joints, a second controller coordinating the components via the first controllers, and a third controller for transmitting a signal commanding performance of the autonomous task to the second controller. The DCF virtually centralizes all of the control data and the feedback data in a single location to facilitate control of the robot across the multiple communication networks.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,676,382

German Patent Application:
DE102011102314A1

Japanese Patent Application:
JP2014054722

Applying Workspace Limitations in a Velocity-Controlled Robotic Mechanism (MSC-24837-1)

Abstract:

A robotic system includes a robotic mechanism responsive to velocity control signals, and a permissible workspace defined by a convex-polygon boundary. A host machine determines a position of a reference point on the mechanism with respect to the boundary, and includes an algorithm for enforcing the boundary by automatically shaping the velocity control signals as a function of the position, thereby providing smooth and unperturbed operation of the mechanism along the edges and corners of the boundary. The algorithm is suited for application with higher speeds and/or external forces. A host machine includes an algorithm for enforcing the boundary by shaping the velocity control signals as a function of the reference point position, and a hardware module for executing the algorithm. A method for enforcing the convex-polygon boundary is also provided that shapes a velocity control signal via a host machine as a function of the reference point position.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,706,299

German Patent Application:
DE102012213188A1

Japanese Patent No.:
JP2013031913

Method and System for Controlling a Dexterous Robot Execution Sequence Using State Classification (MSC-25149-1)

Abstract:

A robotic system includes a dexterous robot and a controller. The robot includes a plurality of robotic joints, actuators for moving the joints, and sensors for measuring a characteristic of the joints, and for transmitting the characteristics as sensor signals. The controller receives the sensor signals, and is configured for executing instructions from memory, classifying the sensor signals into distinct classes via the state classification module, monitoring a system state of the robot using the classes, and controlling the robot in the execution of alternative work tasks based on the system state. A method for controlling the robot in the above system includes receiving the signals via the controller, classifying the signals using the state classification module, monitoring the present system state of the robot using the classes, and controlling the robot in the execution of alternative work tasks based on the present system state.




U.S. Patent Application:
20130096719

German Patent Application:
DE102012218297A1

Japanese Patent Application:
JP2013086258

Method for Dynamic Optimization of a Robot Control Interface (MSC-25217-1)

Abstract:

A control interface for inputting data into a controller and/or controlling a robotic system is displayed on a human-to-machine interface device. The specific configuration of the control interface displayed is based upon the task to be performed, the capabilities of the robotic system, the capabilities of the human-to-machine interface device, and the level of expertise of the user. The specific configuration of the control interface is designed to optimize the interaction between the user and the robotic system based upon the above described criteria.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,033,876

German Patent Application:
DE102010018854A1

Japanese Patent No.:
JP5002035

Chinese Patent Application:
CN101976772A

Connector Pin and Method (MSC-24752-1)

Abstract:

An electrical connector and method includes a connector and a conforming element proximate to or in contact with the mating end of the connector so as to prevent distortion of a matable end. The matable end of the connector may be of a female or male type and may be of a post, tube, blade, pin, or other configuration. An element made of conforming material, for example, an elastomer, epoxy or rubber type material, is configured and positioned in contact with the matable end of the connector, providing support during assembly to prevent distortion of the matable end. The conforming element may be rectangular, wedge, cylindrical, conical, annular, or of another configuration as required to provide support to the connector pin. The conforming element may be fastened with an adhesive to the matable end to further prevent distortion.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,067,909

German Patent Application:
DE102010021460A1

Japanese Patent No.:
JP5342497

Method and Apparatus for Electromagnetically Braking a Motor (MSC-25084-1)

Abstract:

An electromagnetic braking system and method is provided for selectively braking a motor using an electromagnetic brake having an electromagnet, a permanent magnet, a rotor assembly, and a brake pad. The brake assembly applies when the electromagnet is de-energized and releases when the electromagnet is energized. When applied the permanent magnet moves the brake pad into frictional engagement with a housing, and when released the electromagnet cancels the flux of the permanent magnet to allow a leaf spring to move the brake pad away from the housing. A controller has a dc/dc converter for converting a main bus voltage to a lower braking voltage based on certain parameters. The converter utilizes pulse-width modulation (pwm) to regulate the braking voltage. A calibrated gap is defined between the brake pad and permanent magnet when the brake assembly is released, and may be dynamically modified via the controller.




U.S. Patent No.:
D 628,609

German Patent Filing No.:
402010005571

Japanese Patent Filing No.:
240072010

Chinese Patent Filing No.:
ZL201030544894.3

Robot (MSC-25053-1)

Abstract:

The ornamental design for Robonaut 2 is described and illustrated in this design patent.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,511,964

German Patent Application:
DE112010003290T5

Japanese Patent Application:
JP2013505147

Humanoid Robot (MSC-24739-1)

Abstract:

A humanoid robot includes a torso, a pair of arms, two hands, a neck, and a head. The torso extends along a primary axis and presents a pair of shoulders. The pair of arms movably extends from a respective one of the pair of shoulders. Each of the arms has a plurality of arm joints. The neck movably extends from the torso along the primary axis. The neck has at least one neck joint. The head movably extends from the neck along the primary axis. The head has at least one head joint. The shoulders are canted toward one another at a shrug angle that is defined between each of the shoulders such that a workspace is defined between the shoulders.




U.S. Patent Application:
20130006417

German Patent Application:
DE102012211303A1

Japanese Patent Application:
JP2013013996

Communication System and Method (MSC-25327-1)

Abstract:

A communication system for communicating over high-latency, low bandwidth networks includes a communications processor configured to receive a collection of data from a local system, and a transceiver in communication with the communications processor. The transceiver is configured to transmit and receive data over a network according to a plurality of communication parameters. The communications processor is configured to divide the collection of data into a plurality of data streams; assign a priority level to each of the respective data streams, where the priority level reflects the criticality of the respective data stream; and modify a communication parameter of at least one of the plurality of data streams according to the priority of the at least one data stream.




U.S. Patent No.:
8,483,877

German Patent Application:
DE102011110902A1

Japanese Patent Application:
JP2013223921

Workspace Safe Operation of a Force- or Impedance-Controlled Robot (MSC-25121-1)

Abstract:

A method of controlling a robotic manipulator of a force- or impedance-controlled robot within an unstructured workspace includes imposing a saturation limit on a static force applied by the manipulator to its surrounding environment, and may include determining a contact force between the manipulator and an object in the unstructured workspace, and executing a dynamic reflex when the contact force exceeds a threshold to thereby alleviate an inertial impulse not addressed by the saturation limited static force. The method may include calculating a required reflex torque to be imparted by a joint actuator to a robotic joint. A robotic system includes a robotic manipulator having an unstructured workspace and a controller that is electrically connected to the manipulator, and which controls the manipulator using force- or impedance-based commands. The controller, which is also disclosed herein, automatically imposes the saturation limit and may execute the dynamic reflex noted above.



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R2 Opportunity Webcast

NASA Tech Briefs held a webinar on June 20, 2013 describing the R2 technology and licensing opportunity.

Robonaut Webinar Controls

Use the "prev" and "next" arrows to skip to specific sections of the Webinar. The sections include: Scene 1: JSC Overview, Scene 2: R2 Technical Description, Scene 3: R2 Commercial Applications, Scene 4: Working with JSC, Scene 5: Questions and Answers.

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Links to More Robonaut 2 Information

Robo-Glove & NASA Technology Licensing Opportunities

This wearable human grasp assist device helps reduce the grasping force needed to operate tools for an extended time or for repetitive motion tasks. The device allows the user to tightly grip tools and other items for longer periods of time without experiencing muscle discomfort or strain. The Robo-Glove also has potential applications in prosthetic devices, rehabilitation aids, and people with impaired or limited arm and hand muscle strength. The Robo-Glove is a patented technology available for commercial technology licensing.


Robonaut Supports Telemedicine Advances

NASA is always investigating new uses for one of the world's most advanced humanoid robots, Robonaut 2 (R2.) Working with Dr. Zsolt Garami from Houston Methodist Research Institute, R2 was put through the paces to prove its use as a device enabling telemedicine, or the use of electronic communications to conduct medical procedures. After some quick training, an R2 teleoperator was able to guide the robot and perform an ultrasound scan on a medical mannequin. Humans at the controls are able to perform the task correctly and efficiently by using R2's dexterity to apply the appropriate level of force and can track their progress using R2's vision system. The teleoperated R2 also experimented using a syringe as part of a procedure further demonstrating the robot's capabilities for telemedicine. This demonstration of robotic capabilities could one day result in the ability for physicians to conduct complex medical procedures on humans in remote locations, whether on the Earth's surface or even in low Earth orbit.



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How to Contact Us

Robonaut If you are interested in partnering or licensing the technologies in Robonaut 2, please contact us. We encourage you to contact our technology transfer specialists to discuss how Robonaut technologies can benefit your research and development efforts.

Michelle P. Lewis
JSC Patent License Manager
Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Group
NASA/Johnson Space Center
Phone: (281) 483-8051
E-mail: michelle.p.lewis@nasa.gov



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