ESA REXUS: Tracz Project

Source: TRACZ team

Year: 2019

Type: ESA REXUS 26 experiment

Collaboration: Space is More, Wrocław University of Science and Technology, KoNaR

Team: Aleksander Gorgolewski, Kamil Bęś, Aleksander Bojda, Łukasz Chojniacki, Adrianna Graja, Kristian Mirek, Aleksander Sil

Links: experiment video, strona 

Grasping objects by non-human in space conditions is in many cases neither effective nor convenient. Lack of general-purpose device which can grab differently shaped and sized elements made from various materials is one of many issues in space missions. A classical approach towards gripping objects by human-like rigid effector requires sophisticated trajectory planning algorithms, numerous sensors and complicated mechanical design. Another approach is to use soft, elastic materials manipulated with pressure to adjust to an irregular-shaped object and catch it. Soft grippers are less complicated in construction and use, furthermore, they seem to be more all-embracing. In many industries (for instance light bulbs and glass products) soft grippers are in common use due to their high adaptability. One type of those grippers is based on the jamming of the granular material.

TRACZ (Testing Robotic Applications for Catching in Zero-g) is an experiment which aimed to investigate the possibility of application of such device in space, where negative differential pressure is impossible to obtain and lack of gravitation may cause the granular substance inside the gripper to behave in an unpredictable manner. During REXUS flight, in microgravity and vacuum conditions series of catches was performed on a single object and the force with which the object is held was measured. The results were compared with an on-ground experiment and the utility of the aforementioned gripper in the space applications were discussed.

Source: TRACZ team

Source: TRACZ team