W. Baker, Z. Kingston, M. Moll, J. Badger, and L. E. Kavraki, “Robonaut 2 and You: Specifying and Executing Complex Operations,” in IEEE Workshop on Advanced Robotics and its Social Impacts (ARSO), Austin, TX, 2017.
Crew time is a precious resource due to the expense of trained human operators in space. Efficient caretaker robots could lessen the manual labor load required by frequent vehicular and life support maintenance tasks, freeing astronaut time for scientific mission objectives. Humanoid robots can fluidly exist alongside human counterparts due to their form, but they are complex and high-dimensional platforms. This paper describes a system that human operators can use to maneuver Robonaut 2 (R2), a dexterous humanoid robot developed by NASA to research co-robotic applications. The system includes a specification of constraints used to describe operations, and the supporting planning framework that solves constrained problems on R2 at interactive speeds. The paper is developed in reference to an illustrative, typical example of an operation R2 performs to highlight the challenges inherent to the problems R2 must face. Finally, the interface and planner is validated through a case-study using the guiding example on the physical robot in a simulated microgravity environment. This work reveals the complexity of employing humanoid caretaker robots and suggest solutions that are broadly applicable.