From the capture and return of an asteroid, to the orbital assembly of space vehicles, robots play a significant role in nearly every scenario of future space exploration. Given the costs and risks involved in space exploration, space agencies look to solve these problems by creating systems where humans and robots can effectively collaborate. In this talk, I describe efforts to develop control systems for two NASA robots.
ATHLETE is a hexapod robot designed to support multiple mission scenarios, including asteroid exploration and capture, and mining, lunar and Martian roving. Robonaut 2 is an anthropomorphic robot designed with the manual dexterity to conduct astronaut work. An R2 is currently deployed at the ISS.
From across the variety of systems developed, I identify a common set recurring, wicked problems. I describe these as the grand challenges of the robotic exploration of space, and consider the ways research in Human-Robot interaction could contribute to their solution.