Established in 1990, the Software, Robotics, and Simulation Division (ER) is responsible for the design, development, testing, and operations of intelligent systems, robotic systems, and real-time simulation systems that facilitate the Human Exploration and Development of Space. The division participates in both programatic functions as well as targeted research and development in support of Johnson Space Center programs. The division is organized into several branches.

Download the organizational chart for ER.

  • A Dream Realized

    A Dream Realized

    Robonaut 2 launched up to the ISS on February 24th, 2011, fulfilling a 15 year dream to put a humanoid robot into space.

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    The Active Response Gravity Offload System (ARGOS) is designed to simulate reduced gravity environments, such as Lunar, Martian, or microgravity, using a system similar to an overhead bridge crane.

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  • Desert RATS 2010

    MMSEV & Centaur2 at Desert RATS 2010

    The MMSEV and Centaur 2 getting put through their paces at Desert RATS 2010.

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  • R2 ISS Taskboard

    R2 ISS Taskboard

    Robonaut2 practicing with its ISS Taskboard

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  • Robonaut 2 Prep For Launch

    Robonaut 2 Time Lapse:

    Getting packed for space flight

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Flight Systems Branch

The Flight Systems Branch provides the robotic systems management and engineering support to the International Space Station (ISS) for the ISS Mobile Servicing System (MSS). In addition, in-line support is provided for robotic related tasks such as SSRMS capture and berthing analysis, robotic user interface displays for the Robotic Workstation, MSS software integration, and robotic berthing camera systems. The Flight Systems Branch also provides System Management for the ISS Countermeasure Systems hardware and GFE project management for the Treadmill with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization (TVIS), Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED), Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization (CEVIS) and other GFE hardware.


Robotics Systems Technology Branch

The Robotic Systems Technology Branch is responsible for the research, engineering, development, integration, and application of robotic hardware and software technologies for specific flight and ground robotic system applications in support of human spaceflight. Advanced robotic systems technology efforts include both remotely controlled and autonomous robots for space and terrestrial application, as well as intelligent robotics for high value functionality. The development of highly dexterous robots, such as R2, places the branch at the forefront of U.S. humanoid robotics while our planetary robotic Rovers are breaking new ground (literally and figuratively) in techniques for exploration and settlement of extraterrestrial bodies.


Dynamic Systems Test Branch

The Dynamic Systems Test Branch is responsible for a group of high fidelity robotic facilities as well as providing mechanical design support for the division. The branch manages the Active Response Gravity Offload System (ARGOS), Robotic Motion Platform (RMP), Dexterous Manipulator Testbed (DMT), Air Bearing Floor (ABF), and The Six-degree-of-freedom Dynamic Test System (SDTS). In addition, the branch provides sustaining engineering for the Simplified Aid For EVA Rescue (SAFER) and the Robotic Micro Conical Tool (RMCT). Current work includes leading the development of the Multi-Mission Space Exploration Vehicle (MMSEV) cabin, designing an upgraded SAFER platform, and continuing ARGOS development.


Spacecraft Software Engineering Branch

The Spacecraft Software Engineering Branch provides leadership and technical expertise in spaceflight software development and Vehicle Systems Management (VSM). Technical support to major human spaceflight programs/projects (e.g. ISS, Orion, Altair) includes both contractor oversight and GFE software development. Systems engineering is performed to assess flight vehicle operations, the appropriate application of automation and autonomy, and the performance of flight processor architectures. VSM includes Fault Detection, Isolation and Recovery (FDIR), Vehicle Re-initialization, Mode Management, Resource Management, Onboard Checkout, and Management of Health and Status Data.


Simulation and Graphics Branch

The Simulation and Graphics Branch is responsible for management, development, maintenance and operation of multiple facilities that provide high-fidelity, real-time graphical simulations used to support both engineering analysis and flight crew training needs. Among these engineering facilities critical to the success of human space flight is the Systems Engineering Simulator and Virtual Reality Lab. The Simulation and Graphics Branch also provides graphics models and rendering software as well as real-time simulation models and tools throughout the Johnson Space Center and for cooperative activities with other NASA centers, government agencies, and International Space Station partners.