Fiber Optic Shape Sensing for Tethered Marsupial Rovers

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014

$750K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Luna Innovations, Inc.
301 1st St Suite 200
Roanoke, VA 24011
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Abstract

Building upon the successful proof of concept work in Phase I, Luna Innovations Incorporated is proposing to design, build, and test a sensing tether for marsupial rovers. This tether will be capable of monitoring its own distributed tension, curvature, length, and shape, enabling greater flexibility in robotic exploration and sample-gathering missions conducted on remote planets and moons. By providing information about elevation changes, potential points of harm and deployed length, the sensing tether will add crucial information during the course of the mission. The distributed tension and curvature measurements are particularly useful, as they indicate when the rover has become stuck, descended a slope or lost traction. Luna's sensing tether has the ability to measure its own path as it stretches between the marsupial rover and its base, giving position and orientation information not just on the tether, but also on the attached rover. Made from a single strand of custom optical fiber, Luna's shape fiber is lightweight and flexible, easily fitting inside existing tether packages.