Olis Robotics joins NASA effort to develop more sustainable space exploration

November 14, 2018 - 04:15pm

Article provided by Olis Robotics

Olis Robotics, a leader in next-generation remote robotics software, announced its selection as a subcontractor by Tethers Unlimited as part of the NASA FabLab prototype project. The FabLab will be used on missions aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to demonstrate orbital recycling and reuse capabilities by providing on-demand manufacturing of mission-critical parts. It’s a first step toward on-demand orbital manufacturing through reclamation, recycling and 3D metal and plastics printing.

An artist's rendering of the FabLab (left side). Photo courtesy of Olis Robotics

Olis Robotics software technology will be used to enable robotic maintenance, fabrication and experimentation needs in space through its proprietary operating system, OlisOS. Olis Robotics will deliver control software for Tethers Unlimited’s FabLab prototype that provides augmented telerobotic control to mitigate the effects of the communications time delay between controllers on the ground and distant spacecraft, known as "latency."

The FabLab will combine tools for precision manufacturing with inspection systems, recycling of metals and plastics, robotic manipulators, and software for remote control of the manufacturing processes. These tools and processes will be needed to support astronauts on deep-space missions.

By utilizing machine learning and living digital twins the OlisOS identifies and tracks objects to enable manipulation in dynamic, zero-gravity environments. The OlisOS thereby provides remote robotic pilots a progressive range of control from augmented control for complex tasks requiring cognition to full automation for structured and repetitive tasks.

“Our technology gives pilots stationed on Earth the ability to guide robots in orbit as they reclaim space junk and recycle it into essential products which will serve to increase the sustainability of space exploration,” said Don Pickering, CEO of Olis Robotics. “This project will lay the foundation for future advancements including in-space assembly all the way through semi-autonomous robots to maintain unmanned facilities and manage long-term experiments.”

“Olis Robotics technology–with its machine learning and operator assistive features–is essential in dynamic environments,” said Robert Hoyt, CEO of Tethers Unlimited. “We selected Olis because they are the leader in technical capability for these types of dynamic applications. The Olis software allows robots to identify, track and manipulate objects floating in space. This ability will enable our FabLab and MANTIS robotic systems to offload repetitive or menial tasks from astronauts while providing operators on the ground reliable control of the system.”

This FabLab prototype phase is scheduled to conclude by March of 2020. After completion, Olis plans to pursue funding to expand the technology for further uses on the International Space Station (ISS) and other space systems to enable robots to maintain unmanned facilities and manage long-term experiments.

Related Glossary Terms

  • robotics


    Discipline involving self-actuating and self-operating devices. Robots frequently imitate human capabilities, including the ability to manipulate physical objects while evaluating and reacting appropriately to various stimuli. See industrial robot; robot.


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