Helmholtz Association

Work Package 3300 – Manipulation

The central objective of this work package is to develop the task dependent mobile manipulation skills and the necessary manipulation systems for both extreme environments, the extraterrestrial and the deep-sea environment.

The focus for space applications is versatile: the manipulative operations of a lunar central station, transfer of instruments mounted on rovers to various surface locations, and sample acquisition and transport back to processing stations. Robots will be used for building and operating the station. Due to the rising interest in mining of deep-sea resources, there is a need to enhance traditional underwater manipulation techniques to ease standard manipulation tasks and allow for future complex manipulation scenarios. However, a number of differences to traditional manipulator control complicate the transfer of established techniques and algorithms from terrestrial and space applications to the deep-sea domain. This applies mainly to unstable base operations especially when using AUVs, low control frequencies, limited sensory feedback and a highly dynamic environment. To assist ROV operators in these demanding circumstances and to allow for autonomous operations, different improvements must be implemented with varying level of difficulty and complexity. And, moreover, there is a strong need for additional hardware and software developments.

In the lunar context, the robots must perform tasks similar to geologists on earth. Concepts for installation and operation of a seismic sensor network and communication infrastructure will be developed. The autonomous navigation skills will allow the robots to access the work sites and to install the scientific sensors. Optionally, material samples can be taken and returned to the lunar base. Furthermore, the robots play a major role in assembling the lunar base.