Robots "crawl" energy generation of the future

Roby Space Junior I and II are baptized with fire in space

RobySpace II on the space network © TU Wien
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Two mini-robots have taken a first step towards forward-looking space technology: they moved autonomously from a rocket onto a satellite-spanned network. In the long term, it is planned to fasten on their successors once solar cells to use them for energy in space.

In order to be able to win solar energy in space in the distant future, an international project under Japanese leadership was started in 2004 in which solar cells equipped mini-robots "crawl" on a network. The robots automatically align themselves with the sun to achieve the highest possible energy efficiency. The demands placed on the energy-yielding robots are high: they must be light and relatively small and endure the shocks they experience when transported into space. And then there's the Arctic temperatures and the vacuum that can put a lot of pressure on electronics.

But the two space robots "Roby Space Junior I and II" of the Vienna University of Technology (TU) have successfully passed their baptism of fire in space. Their primary goal was to crawl out of a rocket onto a grid stabilized by satellites. For the time being, the vision of the future is solar energy generation - this will only become reality in about 20 to 30 years.

Roby Space was successfully launched into space from the Japanese Uchinoura Space Center last weekend. The robots got a "launching ramp" made of cloth to get from the very narrow launching house to the triangular grid (10x 10x 10 meters) spanned by three satellites. Arriving in space both robots were released from their shackles in the rocket by a "wire cutter". Roby Space II bravely mastered the critical transition from his narrow launch pad to the partially stabilized grid. He was briefly - with Austrian flag - in the field of view of the built-in mother's camera video camera.

Roby Space II crawled easily on the space network and has thus met the requirements of the European Space Agency (ESA). Nothing is known yet about the further fate of Roby Space I, more details will probably be found after the final analysis of the data. display

So far, the Viennese robot researchers have been particularly successful with their football robots - a know-how that also paid off in space: "70 percent of Roby Space's hardware and software is a 'spin off' of Roby Speed, our world champion football robot, " said TU Vienna professor and project manager Peter Kopacek.

(TU Vienna, 26.01.2006 - NPO)