FIGURE 5. Justin’s robotic hand.
FIGURES 3A-B. German
Aerospace Center’s Justin.
Mechatronics, part of
the German Aerospace
Center (DLR) in
There are similarities to NASA’s Robonaut and
Robonaut 2, yet differences. Robonaut is intended for space
station servicing missions but Justin will be used to take
dead satellites out of orbit or service them on the site.
Justin’s design purpose is to repair or refuel satellites that
need to be serviced, extending the life of on-orbit satellites.
Space is full of junk and dead satellites, and ESA feels it
might be quite useful to clear out this debris. The robot
could be mounted on a dedicated satellite with the express
purpose of grasping and removing dead satellites.
The robot has amazing dexterity, approaching that of a
human astronaut. Justin’s upper body has 43 controllable
degrees of freedom with seven in each of the arms, 12 in
each of the hands (see Figure 5), and five in the torso. The
developers chose to use the aRD-concept (agile Robot
architecture in order to avoid the
use of the usual predominately
monolithic control structure.
Instead, they broke it into
individual modules which can be
distributed on multiple
processors. The implementation
consists of a small collection of
libraries and configuration tools.
It allows the integration of a
variety of standard tools such as
Matlab/Simulink for controller
At present, it is used as a
teleoperator but the long-term goal is for partial or full
autonomy. This teleoperation can be accomplished from a
space-borne control panel, much like the space station’s
Canadarm or the Shuttle RMS arm, or from an earthly
location. Control is performed by a head-mounted stereo
display helmet for visual feedback from the robot’s stereo
cameras and arm control is handled by an exoskeleton
appendage attached to the controller’s arms to mimic their
movements. The exoskeleton sends back torque forces
proportional to what the robot’s arms feel in space. Future
control is hoped to be autonomous via verbal commands or
simple button commands.
iCub Toddler Robot is a
One robot that I’ve found to be topping headlines in
the US and other countries is the 41 inch tall robot
designed by Petar Kormushev and his team of Sylvain
Calinon, Ryo Saegusa, and Giorgio Metta at the Italian
Institute of Technology in Genoa, Italy. iCub has an
amazing 53 degrees of freedom in its arms, hands, legs,
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