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Self Guided Platform


Development of Universal Self-Guided Platform for the Automation of the Assembly Work on the Earth and in Space

Tech Area / Field

  • SAT-SUF/Surface Transportation/Space, Aircraft and Surface Transportation
  • MAN-MPS/Manufacturing, Planning, Processing and Control/Manufacturing Technology

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Russian Academy of Sciences / Space Research Institute, Russia, Moscow

Supporting institutes

  • Central Research Institute of Machine Building (TsNIIMash), Russia, Moscow reg., Korolev


  • DaimlerChrysler Aerospace, Germany, Bremen\nUniversity of Oulu, Finland, Oulu\nJohns Hopkins University, USA, MD, Baltimore

Project summary

The goal of the project is to develop a so-called universal platform for the automatic installation of loads during the assembly works on the Earth and in space. The platform is an autonomous, relatively small electro-mechanical device, fixing directly to a load. On the Earth it operates in complex with any lifting mechanism (crane, helicopter, balloon, airship), and provides a high degree of accuracy in load installation. In space the platform may provide a high accuracy in the assembling of the complicated spatial construction at the orbital stations. As well it may be used as a self-guided system in the process of approaching and docking of the spacecraft. The device forms a single structure and consists of:
- four low-thrust pulsing jet engines connected to a placed on the platform reservoir with compressed air by pneumatic lines.

Engine is the electromagnetic valve and the thrust is produced by compressed air escaping from high-pressure reservoir through valves;

- a position-sensitive optical system with marked beacons (point-like sources), fixed near the setting place;
- four accelerometers;
- an automatic system of fixing the platform to the load and to a rope;
- the on-board computer.
- small monitor placed in the cabin of crane or helicopter As an example, operating principles of the platform, working in complex with the helicopter (as the most complicated sort of the assembling work) is fairly straight-forward. First, the platform is rigidly fixed to a load, suspended on the rope of a helicopter.

The position-sensitive optical system is needed for obtaining information about the spatial position of the load relative to a point-like sources, fixed near the setting place.

The accelerometers are needed for the determination of load acceleration in the horizontal plane.

The low-thrust pulse jet engines are used for damping of the load oscillations and for the correction of its position in the horizontal plane relative to the support place.

The automatic installation of load begins when the beacons, fixed near the setting place, come into the detector's field of view. With this moment the on-board computer having analyzed the data, incoming from the optical system and accelerometers, actuates (re-switch) a particular engines of the platform and simultaneously via the autopilot controls the motion of the helicopter (communication of the platform with an autopilot may be realized either by means of the electric cable, or by the radio means). As a result, the motion of the whole system (load + helicopter) in the horizontal plane is corrected. The vertical load moving is provided by the helicopter itself.

Finally, a smooth, highly accurate (± 0.5 cm) matching of the assembly points of the load and the support takes place, that is the platform in fact performs the scaffolder's functions and simultaneously is able to correct the position of the helicopter.

When the process is finished, the system of fixing the platform to the load by the command from the on-board computer cuts off the platform from the load. The platform is remained on the rope and is ready for the next set of load installation.

Thus, with the help of proposed platform the automatic, high accuracy installation of a load will be realized. Furthermore, the time of load assembling considerably reduces, the whole process of installation becomes more simple and universal and does not require a high experience of operator or pilot during the work.

According to the preliminary estimates the mass of the platform (with compressed air) ~ 50 kg, the range of nominal tractive force of each engine 400-600 N. The platform is capable to install the load of up to 25.000 kg.

At present time a prototype of the platform, working in complex with a cable-crane in a test-hall and capable to install a mass of about 100 kg. is done.

Mathematical model of the platform operating with crane and helicopter is also worked out.

By the end of the project we expect to receive the following results:

- experimental model of the platform, capable to work in complex with crane and ready for tests in complex with the helicopter;
- technology of the platform functioning during the accomplishment of the assembling works in space.

From our point of view the results of the work within this project may have a direct application in building industry on the Earth.

In space the platform may be used during the approach and docking phases of the spacecraft. It may be applied for the assembling of the complicated spatial construction at the orbital stations as well.

The role of the foreign collaborators

Scientists from USA, France, Sweden and Finland which work in the field of applied mechanics will take part in the project.

By the specialists from the University of Oulu (Finland) the following work within the project will be done:

- selecting of the optical characteristics and modification of the position-sensitive optical system;
- selecting of the radiation parameters of the beacons and methods of beacons discerning in the detector's field of view;
- modification of the electronic box of the system.

Close cooperation of the Russian and foreign specialists supposed to be under definition of the problem and discussion of results on every stage of work as well as mutual publications.


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