Reaching for the stars with new space collaboration

Reach Robotics and the University of Sydney’s School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering (AMME) are to develop space manufacturing and service capabilities under a new collaboration.

They have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop solutions to complex space control challenges in the field of 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, or manipulators, that are used to carry out tasks in space.

The university’s Space Systems Engineering Laboratory leader said Dr Xiaofeng Wu said: “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. “

The potential for manipulators on spacecraft is that they can conduct intervention missions including correcting for adverse scenarios such as deploying a malfunctioning solar panel.

They can also carry out modifications such as adding structures to a platform in space.

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 and autonomous robotics research applications.

Reach Robotics BDM Anders Ridley-Smith said: “Dr Xiaofeng Wu and his team at the University of Sydney’s…space expertise and interests include solving complex space control problems which aligns well with Reach Robotics.

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

Interactions between satellites and manipulators require intelligent navigation and control software.

Reach Robotics will provide the robotic technology for integration, collaborative bench-level demonstrations, and for working on strategic opportunities to launch satellite missions.

Dr Wu said: “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.”

Picture: University of Sydney

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