Joshua Mehling

NASA Johnson Space Center

Series Elastic Actuation for the Next Generation of Space Robots

Lor2ISS_cropped-1.jpgoking toward the future of deep space exploration, culminating in human missions to Mars, robots will play a critical role in building and maintaining habitats, ensuring crew health, and increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of scientific studies.  Like those targeting many terrestrial applications, these robots must be capable of operating in human-engineered, but perhaps unstructured environments while also maintaining high fidelity dynamic performance, torque measurement ability, and inherent safety.  Series elastic actuation holds great promise across these domains and this talk will explore the actuator designs developed for NASA’s latest robots; the dynamic characteristics of these torque dense, electric SEAs; and the control techniques adopted that enable their demonstrated performance.

 Joshua Mehling is the Technical Discipline Lead for Robotic Controls at NASA’s Johnson Space Center where he has served in the Robotic Systems Technology Branch since 2004.  He received B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Rice University where his research focused on the design and impedance control of compliant actuators.  Over the course of his NASA career Dr. Mehling has been involved in all aspects of robot design, modeling, and control across a variety of platforms, most notably serving as the Lead Mechanical Engineer for NASA’s Robonaut 2 and leading both the actuator design and embedded control system teams during the development of NASA’s latest humanoid robot, Valkyrie.