Relative motion robotics rig
The Relative Motion Robotic (RMR) facility is a robotic cell comprised of two robotic arms and a linear track, designed to simulate relative motion and interaction between two bodies. This could include boats, satellites, aircraft and myriad other possibilities. In the first instance the facility is being used to develop automated air-to-air refuelling techniques. A refuelling drogue, the parachute-like connector that hangs from the refuelling hose on the tanker aircraft, is attached to one robotic arm and the receiver aircraft's probe is mounted on the other. A computer simulation of the aircraft flight dynamics, including bow waves, wake and turbulence models, and fly-by-wire controllers is linked to the robots so that the relative positions of the real aircraft hardware reflects their positions in the computer simulation. Sensors mounted to the real hardware then feed signals back into the computer simulation which are used in the automatic control algorithms being developed at the University.
The work being conducted will enable unmanned aircraft to refuel mid-air. The RMR facility permits rigorous testing of the real hardware and sensors in conjunction with validated computer models to provide the best possible verification of the system's capabilities prior to flying the new technology on real aircraft.
The RMR facility is also used by ACCIS for manufacturing research with advanced composite materials.