Autonomous control of a free-flying space robot

Welsh, Teri (2006) Autonomous control of a free-flying space robot. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
[thumbnail of 10396015.pdf] PDF
Download (10MB)
Printed Thesis Information:


The ongoing requirement for the assembly of large space structures has made a call for astronauts to work in partnership with a new generation of free-flying robotic vehicles. This thesis develops the control methodology for a flying robot designed to operate autonomously onboard crewed spacecraft in pressurized or vacuum microgravity environments. The controller will provide the robot with decision-making capabilities, allowing it to navigate autonomously within the vicinity of a large space structure and complete a number of tasks. The controller design uses a behavioural 'Braitenberg' approach to avoid collisions and achieve useful task objectives such as reaching goal destinations, collecting randomly positioned objects, refuelling and following moving targets. The incorporation of manual input is developed to allow external control over the automated robotic vehicle. The suite of behaviours are given a variable weighting, to provide a versatile control methodology with seamless transition between behaviours, and in addition, integration of cue-deficit techniques to optimise the behavioural control when confronted with conflicting choices - such as the need to refuel whilst searching out a goal. The model is enhanced by the addition of a camera tool to complement the third person viewpoint with the ability to point the robot's camera optical axis in any desired orientation, providing tracking and fixed-pointing capabilities with possible uses in video conferencing. The camera tool incorporates an attitude controller (using potential functions) to bring the robot to rest at the desired goal orientation, or track moving targets. In summary, this thesis documents the development of a novel control methodology which integrates high-level behaviour based autonomy with low level translation and rotational control.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Aerospace engineering, robotic vehicles, control systems.
Subjects: T Technology > TL Motor vehicles. Aeronautics. Astronautics
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Autonomous Systems and Connectivity
Supervisor's Name: McInnes, Prof. Colin
Date of Award: 2006
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2006-71921
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 May 2019 09:31
Last Modified: 20 May 2021 14:03

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year