The robotics simulation environment is designed to meet the challenges of astronaut and ground personnel training, as well as providing a valuable tool for space operations support. Our simulator is currently being used to train International Space Station astronauts to perform on-orbit robotics tasks. It also supports mission planning and task verification in an operationally representative environment. The simulator supports critical tasks to be performed by astronauts, including payload handling, berthing and de-berthing. The robotics simulation environment provides users with a simulation representative of the space station dynamics and visual environment. It provides real-time high-fidelity simulation of the flexible dynamics performance of one or several robotic arms concurrently in a micro-gravity environment to support complex "hand-off" tasks. Contact dynamics models have been added to enhance the realism of berthing payloads with multiple contact points simultaneously tracked. 3D visual models support realistic views generated by cameras in an operational and dynamic lighting environment including the production of split screen views. Robotic arm flight software provides an invaluable and confident environment in which on-orbit tasks can be planned and practiced.
The robotics simulation environment provides a template in which to build the user-specific robotic system. Visualization and system-specific GUI pages can be linked to the models to produce a fully customized simulation configuration. The simulator can support many different configurations that can be selected at load time.