MIT Portugal Seedling Project Team starts a ground testing campaign at NASA Ames with Astrobee free-flyer robot
Three team members from the MIT-Portugal seedling project ReSwarm – Monica Ekal (PhD student at Institute for Systems and Robotics (ISR) from Instituto Superior Técnico (IST)), Keenan Albee (PhD student, Space Systems Lab (SSL) at MIT), and Bryce Doerr (Postdoc, SSL at MIT) – have recently conducted a one week campaign at NASA Ames performing ground testing with the NASA Astrobee free-flyer robot.
They were among the first research teams (other than NASA’s internal team) using this ground testing facility, and the first to deploy a Nonlinear Model Predictive Control (NMPC) algorithm on this robot, showing remarkable robot maneuverability. The experiments focused on the simultaneous inertial parameter estimation and trajectory optimization of a free-flying robot while transporting a load. This research leads to a broad range of applications, including satellite servicing, space debris mitigation, and in-space assembly of large structures. The ReSwarm project is coordinated by Rebecca Masterson from MIT and Rodrigo Ventura from ISR/IST.