Olis wins USAF grant to study use of robots to service satellites

24 May 2019 (Last Updated May 24th, 2019 11:30)

Olis Robotics has secured funding from the US Air Force (USAF) to evaluate the applicability of robotics software platform to efficiently service satellites in orbit.

Olis Robotics has secured funding from the US Air Force (USAF) to evaluate the applicability of robotics software platform to efficiently service satellites in orbit.

The initial small business innovation research (SBIR) grant will enable the company to work on increasing the capabilities and reducing the operational costs in Earth orbit.

If the company manages to impress the USAF, it could win as much as $1.5m in potential future funding.

Olis Robotics’ artificial intelligence (AI) driven software platform features existing robotic systems integrated into a singular control platform.

The platform is equipped with machine learning capabilities that allow robots to service satellites in orbit to offer assistance to pilots by performing multiple tasks autonomously.

This ensures reduced pilot error and increased the probability of mission success. In addition, the platform is expected to extend the potential service-life of satellites.

Olis Robotics CEO Don Pickering said: “We’re pleased to be working with the Air Force to help extend the life of existing satellites, potentially saving hundreds of millions of dollars, with the precision to refuel, repair, or update components while the satellites are in orbit.

“Olis Robotics’ progressive autonomy software platform enables the ability to use robotics in orbit to service satellites and reduce the cost of maintaining and upgrading existing satellite systems.”

"This will enable robots to operate independently even when commands are delayed."

The company will focus on solving latency issues by leveraging its AI components. This will enable robots to operate independently even when commands are delayed.

Furthermore, Olis Robotics will assess the applicability of its software platform for in-space assembly, inspections, and testing satellite and manufacturing parts built in space.

The USAF grant requires the firm to deliver a report with a detailed analysis of how the platform can be used to address the service’s needs to maintain satellites in orbit and assist in orbital manufacturing.