Prototype for an asteroid exploratory robot using multi-phalanx microspine grippers

Albert Nana Kwasi Boohene, David Newill-Smith, Timothy Trieu, Robert Stenge

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


A prototype robot that can explore small asteroids and comets with low gravitational attraction has been designed, built, and tested. The three-armed robot has four-digit hands with compliant, multi-phalanx fingers that grip a rocky surface using an array of microspines. These microspine assemblies are patterned after a design that was first demonstrated on an omni-directional microspine gripper at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory utilizing only single-phalanx digits. The new design expands the ability of the original gripper to conform to irregular surface variations, providing improvements in anchoring performance and creating a dexterous robotic hand. The robot is capable of traversing and maneuvering across an asteroid-like surface in simulated microgravity conditions. The mechanical design of the gripper and robot, the control system, the microgravity testing apparatus used to test the robot, and experimental results are described here. Future iterations of this prototype robot can provide a robust mobility platform for small body exploration and sampling missions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAIAA SPACE 2015 Conference and Exposition
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA
ISBN (Print)9781624103346
StatePublished - 2015
EventAIAA SPACE Conference and Exposition, 2015 - Pasadena, United States
Duration: Aug 31 2015Sep 2 2015

Publication series

NameAIAA SPACE 2015 Conference and Exposition


OtherAIAA SPACE Conference and Exposition, 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Aerospace Engineering


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