CalTech’s Manipulator-arm Equipped Robot

[Justin] wrote in to tell us about the rover which his CalTech team has entered in NASA’s Exploration Robo-Ops Competition. Their time to shine is later this week, but you can see some of the test footage after the break.

The operator pictured above is using a controller which is a scale model of the manipulator arm, with two cameras giving feedback. One of those monitors shows a feed from the arm itself, providing a view of the gripper. The other feed is a wide shot of the working area from the body of the robot. The arm has six degrees of freedom actuated by servo motors. The controller is a replica of the arm laser cut from acrylic. At each joint there’s a potentiometer whose value is used to establish the position of the frame.

At first we thought that this would be more fatiguing and less convenient than using a gaming controller. But as we look at the dexterity of the arm it becomes obvious that joysticks and buttons would just make things more difficult.

3 thoughts on “CalTech’s Manipulator-arm Equipped Robot

    1. Pretty cool. A long time ago I wrote some software in VB that turns a Microsoft force feedback joystick into a gated shifter for racing sims. The gear positions were gated via haptic feedback. You could load different H-gate presets and they would feel correct while shifting. I was even going to make it “grind” if you attempted an invalid shift, but I could never fix this huge issue with lag.

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