Abstract

This paper presents a follow-the-leader algorithm for control of the Payload Inspection and Processing System (PIPS) at NASA Kennedy Space Center. PIPS is an automated system, programmed off-line for inspection of Space Shuttle payloads after integration and prior to launch. PIPS features a hyper-redundant 18-dof serpentine truss manipulator capable of snake-like motions to avoid obstacles. Given an obstacle-free trajectory for the manipulator tip, the follow-the-leader algorithm ensures whole-arm collision avoidance by forcing ensuing links to follow the same trajectory. This paper summarizes modular development, implementation, testing, and graphical demonstration of the algorithm for prototype PIPS hardware.

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