Entry Date:
April 13, 1999

Field and Space Robotics Laboratory (FSRL)

Principal Investigator Steven Dubowsky

Co-investigator Karl Iagnemma

Project Website http://robots.mit.edu/

The Field and Space Robotics Laboratory (FSRL) is associated with the MIT d’Arbeloff Laboratory for Information Systems and Technology, a large umbrella laboratory involving faculty and staff researchers. The laboratory typically has 4-5 undergraduates working on their Bachelor’s theses or working under the MIT Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). In addition the laboratory generally has 4-6 faculty and staff researchers, including postdocs, staff engineers, and visiting scientists from around the world.

Research of the FSRL focuses on the development of planning, control and design algorithms for robotic systems based on the integration of an understanding the fundamental physics of these systems with advanced computation methodologies. To meet this end, projects usually require extensive analysis, simulations, and experimental studies. The laboratory has extensive computer equipment for analysis and simulations and a wide range of commercial analysis, modeling, and simulation software. In addition, the laboratory has developed software for modeling important robotic system characteristics not found in commercial software systems, such as the interaction of system elastic effects with the nonlinear dynamic nature of manipulator motions.

Experimental Resources
For experimental studies the laboratory has approximately 1,500 square feet of dedicated, and recently renovated, high quality experimental space. This is in addition to the adjacent Pappalardo Laboratory with its expansive facilities used for the experimental fabrication. The Pappalardo has a modern fully equipped machine shop, meeting rooms, etc. The FSRL has an extensive set of experimental test equipment. The laboratory has also developed real-time computer control systems and sensor devices that can be quickly interfaced into four unique robotic systems and devices so that new robotic concepts can be quickly and cost effectively studied.

The FSRL has an extensive set of experiment test equipment. This equipment includes several robotic manipulators and vision and acoustic sensor experimental facilities. The centerpiece of the laboratory is the unique VES (Vehicle Emulation System) for studying the performance of the vehicle-mounted robotic manipulators. The VES has been used by a number of researchers from the US and around the world. The FSRL also has a model Mars yard for studying mobile robotic systems.

For some research, special test devices need to be fabricated. For such cases the laboratory maintains sets of sensors and actuators maintained that can be readily incorporated in special purpose test set-ups. In addition, the laboratory has also developed several power, signal conditioning, and computer system, including VME and PC based systems, that can be interfaced quickly into an experimental design. In this way, experiments for testing real-time control and planning algorithms for unique robotic systems and device can be quickly developed.