Manipulating History

Space, the final frontier.

When the Canadian Space Agency was tasked with developing the Special Task Verification Facility manipulator, a robotic arm intended for use on the International Space Station, Inuktun was brought on board as a sub-contractor to provide mechanical engineering services.

Al Robinson, Inuktun’s co-founder, with his background designing hydraulic subsea manipulators, drew up the structural layout and hydraulics system, and detailed design was completed by our engineering team.

Ultimately, Inuktun provided the space agency with a complete set of machine part, assembly and hydraulic layout drawings.

The robot was assembled and tested at the International Submarine Engineer facility, though it was never intended to make the trip into orbit.

The largest challenge in developing the arm was structural rigidity. Because its end purpose was to simulate manipulation of objects in space where there is little or no gravity or other dynamic forces, the end-effecter was permitted to deflect by only several thousandths of an inch at full load. This resulted in a unique design with very large linkages, actuators and bearings.

The design didn’t end with the termination of the CSA project. Today, Inuktun has developed two- and four-function manipulators that incorporate DNA from the space project. The manipulators complement Inuktun’s standard products, and can be integrated on to customers’ existing ROVs.

However, instead of being used in orbit, many of our manipulators are used for subsea applications and have a depth rating of greater than 5,000 metres.

Check out how PG&E used our four-function manipulator on their Versatrax 300™ system for foreign object search and retrieval (FOSAR), and how manipulator jaw sets are 3D printed in-house.

Want more information on Inuktun's manipulators and other modular components for your inspection vehicle? Contact our expert sales team who will provide you the information on the right product to get your job done.