Associate Professor, Aerospace Engineering
Affiliate Faculty, Institute for Systems Research
People have talked about "robotic" spacecraft since the first satellites, but the terminology generally meant "no humans present". Only recently have we started flying true robots, capable of controlled mobility and the manipulation of objects in the workspace. This presentation is an overview of robotic and human/robotic technologies under development and test in the University of Maryland Space Systems Laboratory. Research includes human/robot teams for spacecraft servicing and planetary surface exploration, advanced dexterous manipulators, and two microsatellites for robotic support applications in space. Technologies developed for space have also been used for undersea deep submergence sample collection and rehabilitation of severe shoulder trauma through an exoskeletal robotic system. One of the long-range visions for this research is to directly integrate robotic technologies into space suits to accomplish a true human-robot symbiosis to aid human space exploration.
David L. Akin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Maryland, where he is also the Director of the Space Systems Laboratory. He received the S.B., S.M., and Sc.D. degrees from the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research interests span the range of space operations from purely manual activities such as extravehicular activity, through teleoperation and robotics, to system analyses of advanced space architectures. He was the Principal Investigator on the Experimental Assembly of Structures in EVA, a flight experiment on board Space Shuttle Mission 61-B, and for the ParaShield Flight Test Experiment on the American Rocket Company SET-1 mission. He has also headed the development of a number of integrated robotic systems for space, undersea, and medical rehabilitation, including the Ranger Dexterous Servicing System (the only U.S.-developed dexterous robot approved for Space Shuttle flight operations), and the SAMURAI deep submergence sampling system for use on hovering AUVs. His current research includes the development of small satellites for ISS operations and in-orbit servicing. He has written over one hundred papers on aerospace systems design, EVA, teleoperation, robotics, and space simulation.