Pressure-Constrained, Reduced-DOF, Interconnected Parallel Manipulators with Applications to Space Suit Design

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This dissertation presents the concept of a Morphing Upper Torso, an innovative pressure suit design that incorporates robotic elements to enable a resizable, highly mobile and easy to don/doff spacesuit. The torso is modeled as a system of interconnected, pressure-constrained, reduced-DOF, wire-actuated parallel manipulators, that enable the dimensions of the suit to be reconfigured to match the wearer. The kinematics, dynamics and control of wire-actuated manipulators are derived and simulated, along with the Jacobian transforms, which relate the total twist vector of the system to the vector of actuator velocities. Tools are developed that allow calculation of the workspace for both single and interconnected reduced-DOF robots of this type, using knowledge of the link lengths. The forward kinematics and statics equations are combined and solved to produce the pose of the platforms along with the link tensions. These tools allow analysis of the full Morphing Upper Torso design, in which the back hatch of a rear-entry torso is interconnected with the waist ring, helmet ring and two scye bearings. Half-scale and full-scale experimental models are used along with analytical models to examine the feasibility of this novel space suit concept. The analytical and experimental results demonstrate that the torso could be expanded to facilitate donning and doffing, and then contracted to match different wearer's body dimensions. Using the system of interconnected parallel manipulators, suit components can be accurately repositioned to different desired configurations. The demonstrated feasibility of the Morphing Upper Torso concept makes it an exciting candidate for inclusion in a future planetary suit architecture.