Originally developed as part of the Modular Unmanned Orbital Laboratory - MUOL program early in the Asgard phase, Inchworm telerobots are likely to become the most common form of workhorse utility robot throughout TMP. Deriving from the simple robotic arms employed by later generation space agency spacecraft and orbital outposts, Inchworms employ a very simple architecture to the utmost in multi-purpose flexibility.
An Inchworm is a simple robot consisting of a single mechanical arm equipped with at least three two-axis electric-powered joints; two at end-effector units and others at intervals in-between. Unlike simpler arm robots, the end-effector units at both ends of the Inchworm feature small stereo cameras, LED lights, and a modular quick-connect interface including bus interfaces for power and communication. The Inchworm needs no internal power supplies, relying entirely on power through its end-effector bus connectors and plug-in anchor point grid, though out would be able to carry independent power sources in mobile anchor units. These end effector units are intended to serve alternately as tool-heads and anchor points, thus allowing the robot to traverse a grid of anchor sockets by traveling end-over-end while simultaneously carrying a pallet of modular tools. In addition, sections of the Inchworm arms may optionally include telescoping linear actuators allowing them to expand or contract in length –though the use of this would often depend on load bearing capacities of such mechanisms. Inchworms would also be able to link end-to-end to create composite robots of greater length, their joints optionally including a lock-pin system to rigidize them in a given position. Originally intended for simple remote control or teleoperation, Inchworms would also be easily employed with fully automated control based on centralized computers, allowing them to be used in coordinated groups and task/production lines or to off-load certain amounts of their control to overcome limitations in manual communications latency. This would afford them increasing autonomous capability in proportion to this centralized and networked computer intelligence but still allow for direct manual control on demand.
This very simple robot design would be capable of incredible flexibility. On the MUOL this affords a simple telerobotic manipulator that can traverse the entire surface of the MUOL structure as it is used to assemble it and provide the basic servicing needs for client modules and station maintenance. But employed in groups, in different sizes, with more specialized tools, and different forms of motile anchor modules, they offer a generic platform for the development of most any form of utility robot, with applications on Earth as well as in space, indoors or out. Inchworm telerobots are likely to form the basis of in-space industrial production lines, perform construction in the environments of moons, asteroids, and planets, and perform all sorts of interior maintenance and work activity in habitats. Their limitation in mobility based on end-over-end plug-in anchor travel would be overcome with a variety of tracked transport platforms or even independently mobile bases. Even as they are developed for MUOL application, they may see immediate use on Aquarian settlements for under-surface platform and OTEC maintenance or combined with PRT chassis systems to form the basis of interior maintenance robots and Personal Packet Transit systems.
Inchworms may ultimately become the most ubiquitous form of robot in use throughout TMP, resulting in extensive mass-production. Most every settlement in every location may find uses for these and they may even be perpetuated in some form in the age of NanoFoam.
- Urban Tree Housing Concepts
- Asgard Digitial Infrastructure
- Carrier Pallets
- WristRocket Personal Mobility Unit
- RocShaw Personal Mobility Units
- Pallet Truck
- ZipLine Tether Transport System
- MagTrack Transport System
- SkyGarden and SkyFarm Systems
- Meat Culturing
- Microgravity Food Processors
- Pools and Baths in Orbit
- Solar Sails
- Plasma and Fusion Propulsion