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A&A Chair's Distinguished Seminar Series: Erik Komendera (Virginia Tech)
A&A Chair's Distinguished Seminar Series: Erik Komendera (Virginia Tech)
WhenMonday, Dec 2, 2019, 4 – 5 p.m.
Campus locationStudent Union Building (HUB)
Campus room334
Event typesLectures/Seminars
Event sponsorsWilliam E. Boeing Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics

Reception at 3:30pm. Seminar at 4:00pm.

Dr. Erik Komendera comes to speak to us from the Virginia Tech Department of Mechanical Engineering on "Autonomous in-space assembly and servicing: Recent research and the path to practice."

The A&A Chair's Distinguished Seminar Series brings scholars of national and international reputation who have made an impact in the field of aerospace engineering and beyond.

With the retirement of the Space Shuttle program and the advent of commercial small-lift launch vehicles, there is new and significant interest in the in-situ assembly and servicing of space structures such as large space telescopes, communications satellites, shared orbital platforms, and habitats.  A proven capability for robotic in-space assembly and servicing will lead to simplified architectures, interchangeable parts, and the use of multiple small-lift launches, driving down expenses and reducing risks.  However, such robots must operate autonomously when the communication delay to human supervision is greater than a fraction of a second, which poses numerous unsolved problems.  These include robustly handling uncertainties in the structures, agents, and environment in a timely and safe manner; making corrections and adjustments as needed; and delegating a large variety of assembly, servicing, and repair tasks to a possibly dynamic team of robots.  In recent years, Dr. Komendera and NASA have developed methods to improve the practicality and reliability of assembly and servicing by: distributing tasks between specialized agents, employing optimal state estimation in the assembly workspace incorporating structure knowledge, using error-minimizing sequencing algorithms, and detecting, identifying, and correcting failures as they occur.  These methods have been verified in hardware experiments with prototype space structure components, which represents a crucial step toward establishing a favorable level of confidence needed for adoption by the community.  In this seminar, Dr. Komendera will describe these methods, the results of multiple recent robotic assembly experiments, areas that require further research, and upcoming applications.

Dr. Erik Komendera is Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech, and director of the Field and Space Experimental Robotics Laboratory.  He and his lab focus on researching methods to enable autonomous multi-agent manipulation in field settings, including servicing and assembly in space.  This includes sequence planning and execution allowing for repair sequences; multi-agent motion and force planning; optimal state estimation of the dynamic workspace accounting for the evolving environment; detection, identification, and correction of failures and off-nominal events; and human-robot interaction in field settings.  He is the Virginia Tech PI on a NASA Early Career Initiative project titled “Assemblers: A modular and reconfigurable manipulation system for autonomous in-space assembly,” which began in October 2018, whose goals are to transform in-space assembly efforts by applying the latest technological advances in machine learning, control theory, and state estimation to expand concepts that he and NASA pioneered.  He also works with industry to research and implement methods for the autonomous assembly of variable components.  From 2014-2018, Dr. Komendera was a roboticist at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA. He earned his MS ('12) and PhD ('14) in Computer Science from the University of Colorado, and a BSE in Aerospace Engineering ('07) from the University of Michigan.  At NASA, he served as assembly robot task lead on the project titled “Commercial Infrastructure for Robotic Assembly and Servicing” (CIRAS). In addition, he was the Principal Investigator for a Langley IRAD project to investigate methods for assembling solar arrays.…
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