The Remotely Operated Mechanical Astronaut Essay

1118 words - 5 pages

The Remotely Operated Mechanical Astronaut, or ROMA, is the next step forward in robotic Extra-Vehicular Activity, or EVA, assistance. Simply put, it is, as the name implies, a robotic astronaut stand-in operated by an astronaut inside the International Space Station, or ISS. ROMA's simplicity of design incorporates numerous amounts of hardware and software already in use to create a single, versatile robot to heighten safety and lessen the amount of time it takes to complete an EVA.
The brilliance of ROMA is that its design uses technology already in use and molds it together into a singular, adaptable machine capable of doing numerous tasks. For instance, the idea for a free-floating ...view middle of the document...

Also, since ROMA’s arms and hands are able to act exactly like an astronaut’s, there is no need to design new tools to be compatible with it. ROMA's innovations and versatility allows it to help with any phase of the construction process.
Speaking of recycling hardware, ROMA’s control systems are derived from the same technology used to train astronauts for EVAs. Similar to this training equipment, the controller wears specialized sleeves along with a virtual reality helmet that remotely controls ROMA so that the robot mimics his (or her) movements, while the astronaut sees what the robot sees (Gilman, 2010). Thus the training for the use of ROMA is relatively simple: astronauts will continue using the virtual reality training systems that are currently in use, just more in depth. Also, since astronauts currently in space already have a minimal amount of this type of training, there will be no need for them to learn something new.
To use ROMA, astronauts will put on the arm remote control sleeves, the virtual reality control helmet, strap on the movement control joystick, and go to work. To maneuver ROMA, the astronaut operates the joystick, which moves not only forwards, backwards, left, and right, but also up and down to allow for free range of motion in all directions. When the astronaut does this, ROMA's hands also move to the front, causing the center of gravity to stabilize and ROMA to be easier to maneuver. Once ROMA undocks and reaches the desired destination, the astronaut manipulates the arms by moving his own. ROMA's spotlight, floodlight, and two eye cameras give the astronaut the exact same image he (or she) would have if they really were conducting the EVA. Equipped to the front of ROMA is a “tool belt” with many clips and tethers for the holding of needed tools. Because the robot has a neck joint, the astronaut has the ability to look down at the tool belt, grab the necessary tool, and use it accordingly.
The size of ROMA's fuel tank guarantees that it will never need a tether; in fact, ROMA can maneuver for a total of eight hours before refueling: much more than is needed for a standard mission. Its refueling port, located in the middle of the tool belt, is able to automatically connect with an attachment located at a...

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