PickNik Robotics announced on June 8th that it has been awarded a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to develop its technology for advanced planning capabilities for robots in microgravity environments.

PickNik is a robotics software technology company founded in 2015 and headquartered in Boulder, Colorado. PickNik is the maintainer of the open-source MoveIt project, a widely used robotic motion planning framework within the Robot Operating System (ROS).

“We are excited to be collaborating with NASA in pushing the frontier of manipulator robotics beyond factories and warehouses, and into the most difficult domains,” commented Dr. Dave Coleman PickNik, founder and CEO.

“PickNik’s aim is to make robotics easier to use so that more people can operate them in complex environments. We believe integrating this automation while enabling human-in-the-loop intervention makes for the simplest teleop solution,” Dr. Mark Moll, Director of Research at PickNik, added.

PickNik’s technology addresses a common gap in deploying robotic arms into environments, where full autonomy is still too difficult. Instead, a human operator is able to supervise and quickly intervene when the robot gets stuck. PickNik plans to widely release the system terrestrially in Fall 2021 under the name MoveIt Studio.

MoveIt Studio gives technicians access to the advanced algorithmic capabilities provided by MoveIt within an accessible user interface. MoveIt Studio enables operators to specify complex sequences of motions for robots (such as Robonaut 2) in unstructured environments, including the International Space Station and the future Lunar Gateway. This allows the operator to think in terms of what the robot needs to do next, rather than how.

Courtesy of PickNik