Due to the extreme costs of transporting humans to space, the use of robotic arms has been proposed as a safer and more cost-efficient solution to several tasks. Some remotely controlled robotic arms are operating in space, for example on the International Space Station, and several more will probably find their way into space in the very near future, on both space stations and satellites.
This chapter discusses the kinematics and dynamics of free-floating vehicle-manipulator systems in a free-fall environment. There are several challenges related to introducing manipulators in space that are not present in fixed-base manipulators on Earth. Firstly, there is no natural way to choose the inertial frame; because the base is floating we cannot simply choose the inertial frame to coincide with the base in the normal way. Secondly, the free-floating base complicates the kinematic modeling as the forward kinematics map is not only position dependent and non-holonomic behavior arises.
KeywordsSpacecraft Attitude Solar Sail Inertial Reference Frame Space Robot Reaction Wheel
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