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.
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. ARGOS uses an inline load cell to continuously offload of a portion of a human or robotic subjectís weight during all dynamic motions, which can include walking, running, and jumping under Lunar or Martian gravities, as well as a wide range of microgravity activities. Using a cable angle sensor, ARGOS actively tracks and follows the subjectís motion in all horizontal directions to maintain a vertical offload force. The facility is capable of supporting surface operation studies, suit and vehicle requirements development, suit and vehicle design evaluation, and crew training with both suited and shirt-sleeved subjects. The ARGOS facility is rapidly reconfigurable and allows for a quick turnaround between different tests and a variety of surface or training analogs.
With the success of the first generation ARGOS, a second generation system is currently being developed to improve dynamics and increase the lifting capability of the system. The facility will continue to support human (shirt-sleeve and suited) and robotic testing and training in simulated reduced gravity environments. The ARGOS concept can also be scaled to larger heights and areas, and future concepts could be designed to offload multiple payloads simultaneously.