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Serious Games Improve Astronauts' Use Of Robotics

Via: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society - Improving Robotic Operator Performance Using Augmented Reality

According to a brief news release from Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, researchers from NASA and Lockheed Martin have successfully tested a software for a robotic extension device that has been shown to dramatically improve astronauts’ ability to perform remote tasks on the International Space Station (ISS).'

Their AR development was conceived to be used with the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM), which is scheduled for 2008.

The Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM) is a two armed robotic device that will be used as an extension to the end effector of the Space Station Robotics Manipulator
System (SSRMS), currently in use on the International Space Station (ISS). SPDM tasks include external orbital replacement unit (ORU) maintenance and temporary storage management of ORU's and payloads. The SPDM reduces the burden and risk to the crew created by extended extra vehicular activity (EVA).

Crew training for the SPDM includes the use a hardware simulator called the Dexterous Manipulator Trainer (DMT) located in the Multi-use Remote Manipulator Development Center (MRMDF) at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC).

Paul Williamson, crew instructor, operates a simulated version of the International Space Station robotic arm, Canadarm2, in the Multi-use Remote Manipulator Development Facility at the Johnson Space Center.

So how the researchers tested this robotic device? "Twelve highly skilled robotics operators were tested on four installation tasks under conditions of dynamic sunlight and very dark nights with and without the overlay. In all cases, accuracy and efficiency improved significantly when using the new overlay system, and all 12 operators found the overlay information extremely helpful in performing the ORU alignment operation. Time to complete the task was also reduced."

The researchers, James Maida (NASA JSC), Charles Bowen and John Pace (Lockheed Martin), presented their findings at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society's 2007 Annual Meeting on October 3, 2007 in Baltimore, Maryland.