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Kibo Utilization Office for Asia (KUOA)

Conducted simulation verification test of Kibo-PRC!

Last Updated: December 24, 2019

JAXA conducted a simulation verification test of Kibo-PRC from November 12 to 15, 2019, in collaboration with NASA's Ames Research Center (ARC). The simulation cleared each test item successfully.

NASA's Astrobee is a free-flying robot system that will provide a research platform for the International Space Station. NASA and JAXA are in collaboration to use Astrobee's research facility on the station.

The purpose of this test was to verify that the Kibo-RPC final round can be operated in a flight-like environment by using the Astrobee ground model at Ames' air bearing facility called the "Granite Lab".

Fig 1. ARC's air levitation surface plate test facility Granite-Lab (Credit: JAXA/NASA)

The Granite Lab contains a mockup of the International Space Station's interior and is used to test Astrobee's ability to navigate using cameras. The robots are mounted on carriages for testing on a granite table. Gas is slowly released under the carriage's three feet, producing a "gas cushion" that allows the robot to float on the smooth granite surface with almost no friction. Astrobee robots are propelled by fans and can move in any direction and turn on any axis in space. In the lab, they can move back and forth or side to side or spin in place, much like an ice skater.

In the test the following contents were confirmed:

(1) Functional and performance tests
We checked the functions, performance, and behavior of the actual Astrobee.

(2) Verification of game feasibility
We confirmed that the APK created in the development environment operates normally on the actual Astrobee.

Fig 2. During tests (Credit: JAXA/NASA)

The items verified in this test will be reflected in the JAXA's simulator update in December 2019. The simulator will be adjusted to better reflect the performance observed in the lab. However, it is difficult to reproduce all of conditions of the real world in the simulator. We want the participants to recognize the difference between the simulation environment and the real world and create a program that works effectively in the latter.

We were able to successfully complete the tests with the help of the ARC Astrobee development team. A big thank you to the ARC Astrobee development team. Kibo-RPC has nearly a year until the final round, but we will continue to strive to make the best tournament together with NASA and POC in each country.

Fig 3. Group photo at Astrobee ground test facility (Credit: JAXA/NASA)



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