Energid Technologies to Control and Validate On-Orbit Robotics for the DARPA Phoenix Program

Robotic Repurposing and Reuse of Retired Satellites Enabled through Advanced Software

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., July 25, 2012 -- to provide software for robotic control and simulation to DARPA Phoenix. Phoenix is a multi-year program designed to develop and demonstrate technologies to cooperatively harvest and re-use valuable components from retired, nonworking satellites in geosynchronous orbit.


The Phoenix program vision is to field a robotic satellite servicing spacecraft. The spacecraft employs grasping arms that manipulate unique tools to reconfigure orbiting satellite hardware. The arms are designed to have many degrees of freedom and the tools, newly developed under the program, will be innovative. This advanced robotic system will be controlled using Energid's software.

"We are excited and honored to be involved with this project," said James English, the CTO at Energid. "From having an articulated arm in orbit to repurposing an abandoned satellite to finding new ways to launch, Phoenix is targeting many firsts."

Energid's Actin software for robot control and simulation, currently in release 3.0, plans to be extended under contract to DARPA to create Actin-X, a set of real-time libraries that can be linked to build software for real-time robot control on the servicing spacecraft. This control aims to use the extra degrees of freedom in the manipulating robot arms to optimize for strength, avoid joint limits, and avoid collisions.

Energid's software is planned to support validation of the system through simulation during development and support training in preparation for launch.

"Actin enables automatic construction of control systems and simulations from CAD models, such as would be made with SolidWorks," said James Bacon, a Principal Engineer on the project. "This capability seeks to allow robot designers to test concepts in just minutes and accelerate the design process for Phoenix."

In this effort, Energid is leveraging technology developed for NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Naval Research Laboratory. Energid's work on the project will be done in Massachusetts, Illinois, Texas, and Arizona.

About Energid Technologies Energid Technologies develops robotic systems and products for the aerospace, agriculture, transportation, manufacturing, defense, and medical industries. Energid's Actin™ and Selectin™ products provide advanced technology in the form of extensible software toolkits. Energid specializes in control, simulation, sensing, and communications for complex systems.

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