Robot Engineering Layout
The Formation Control Testbed (FCT) is
a system-level ground hardware testbed
with multiple 6DOF robots on air-bearings
with on-board guidance and control (G&C)
capability for development and validation
of Formation Flying control architectures
and algorithms. The FCT will:
- Demonstrate end-to-end formation
flying system in a realistic hardware
testbed with a large range of displacements
- Validate formation flying control
architecture and algorithms in a
realistic test environment with distributed
sensing, communication, and computing.
- Demonstrate key Formation Flying mission
- Formation Acquisition
- Observation-on-the-fly maneuver
- Collision Avoidance.
- Two, 6DOF robots with on-board
avionics (H/W and S/W) capable of
full 6DOF control capability.
- Facility and the ground support
equipment to support the operations
of the FCT.
- Functional and performance demonstration
and validation of formation flying
control algorithms and architecture.
The FCT is a ground-based laboratory
consisting of two robots emulating
TPF formation. FCT can demonstrate formation
acquisition, TPF-like formation maneuvering,
and operations using the formation algorithms.
To emulate the real spacecraft dynamics,
the testbed design has realistic
spacecraft-like dynamical behavior within
the given 1-g ground test environment.
With such dynamical and functional similarity
to the TPF spacecraft, the FCT can provide
direct emulation of spacecraft behavior
with thruster and reaction-wheel based
actuation and onboard attitude and inter-robot
range/bearing knowledge of the resulting
6DOF motion. These architectural, functional
and dynamical similarities between the
FCT robots and multiple spacecrafts in
a FF flight mission, like TPF mission,
can provide a direct migration path
of the FCT demonstrated integrated formation
system to the flight system.
Goals and Challenges
Perform end-to-end system level formation
flying functional demonstration and performance
validation in a realistic dynamical testbed
to cm and arcmin level.
The high-level FCT objectives
will be achieved by accomplishing the
- Develop a multi-robot hardware dynamical
testbed with large angle articulations
and spatial displacements capabilities
in 6 degrees-of-freedom (6DOF)
- Develop robot on-board avionics
with spacecraft-like communication,
sensing, and control capability using
thrusters, reactions wheels, gyros
and other sensors.
- Use software architecture portable
to flight mission, with capability
to support flight commanding, and
- Integrate formation control algorithms
portable to FF flight missions.
- Develop and deploy a Formation Flying
Technology Laboratory (FFTL) facility
and the required ground support equipment
to house the multi-robot FCT.
- Demonstrate and validate end-to-end
precision FF control architecture
and algorithms in a realistic end-to-end
system level hardware testbed.
Additional multi-robot and simulation
testbeds are discussed on the Facilities page.