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Reach Robotics and academia collaborate on robotic arm for space

robotic arm

Australian company, Reach Robotics, will work with the University of Sydney to develop a robotic arm to address complex space challenges. 

Under a MoU between Reach Robotics and the University of Sydney’s School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering (AMME), the focus will be on on-orbit servicing, assembly and manufacturing (OSAM). 

Reach Robotics and researchers within the School’s Space Systems Engineering Laboratory have expertise in space-related robotic technology, including the development and implementation of control algorithms on space-ready robotic arms (“manipulators”) that are used to carry out tasks in space. 

Equipped with manipulators, spacecraft can conduct intervention missions including correcting for adverse scenarios (such as a deploying a malfunctioned solar panel) and carry out modifications (such as adding structures to a platform in space). 

Interactions between satellites and manipulators require intelligent navigation and control software that can account for changes in inertia. 

Reach Robotics will provide the robotic technology for integration, collaborative bench-level demonstrations, and for working on strategic opportunities to launch satellite missions, with the potential to develop novel CubeSat (miniaturised satellite) missions that demonstrate intervention capabilities. 

Dr Xiaofeng Wu’s work at the University of Sydney specialises in small satellites and in-orbit autonomous vision-based navigation and control. 

“We’re excited to work with Reach Robotics to build the capabilities in this emerging industry for Australia,” Wu said, who leads the Space Systems Engineering Laboratory. 

“It’s really exciting to see a new entrant like Reach Robotics bringing its niche, world-leading robotic capabilities into this burgeoning industry. Through this collaboration, we hope the University of Sydney will continue to make a name for itself as a top research institute in the on-orbit servicing, assembly and manufacturing sector. 

“In addition, the collaboration will provide real-life learning for students – enabling us to train the next generation of professionals ready to work in Australia’s growing space sector.” 

Reach Robotics business development manager, Anders Ridley-Smith, said their team is excited to partner with the university. 

“Their space expertise and interests include solving complex space control problems which aligns well with Reach Robotics,” he said. 

“Specifically, we are looking forward to supporting the University with our technology to further examine and address interactions between spacecraft and manipulator motion.” 

Reach Robotics creates advanced robotic arm solutions for harsh environments which enable complex inspection and intervention in maritime infrastructure management, military/police operations, marine science, autonomous robotics research applications, and more. 

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