Science

Zero-g Robotics on an Air Hockey Table

Posted 28 May 2004 at 19:13 UTC by steve Share This

Wei-Min Shen and other researchers from the USC Polymorphic Robotics Lab have been looking for a way to simulate zero-g robotics so they can develop autonomous robots that can assemble orbiting solar power stations and do other useful work in space. Their solution? Small robots called "pucks" that hover on a conventional air-hockey table. A new Nature article summarizes their work. The USC PRL website offers video of the puck robots at work including pucks assembling scale girders (MPEG), docking with each other (MPEG), and autonomously navigating (MPEG).

Creativity at its best, posted 29 May 2004 at 00:18 UTC by roschler » (Master)

That air hockey table idea is a prime example of human ingenuity. Think about it. If you wanted a really cheap laboratory for doing zero-g research with robots, what would you have come up with?

That's a hell of a lot cheaper than putting a military aircraft into a freefall to simulate zero-g.

--roschler

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