The Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of CTU has long been working with robotic systems for industry and science. To be truly autonomous, robots must be able to navigate in space using sensors ranging from force sensors, stereoscopic cameras or 3D lidar. Professor Michael Valášek, Dean of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, says: "Today, robots are influencing every aspect of our lives - producing more machines, mowing our lawns, delivering materials in hospitals or helping in natural disasters. The development of machine learning is dramatically pushing their autonomy. And this can benefit future astronauts on the Moon, space stations or service teams of Earth's important communications satellites."
„In the very near future, it will be normal that a failing satellite will not be decomissioned by its operator, but he will pay for a service team instead - a company that owns service satellites that will be able to refuel the client, replace the batteries or the propulsion unit. This will extend the lifetime of the satellite by additional years, increase the client's profit and avoid waste of the resources. It is estimated that within ten years the global market for on-orbit servicing will reach up to US$3 billion." Says Richard Hynek, CZARM Systems Engineer at L.K.Engineering, adding:
"Such service satellites will have to be largely autonomous. They will have to be able to approach the satellite being serviced and automatically capture it with a robotic arm, which is a very ambitious task in zero gravity, extreme temperatures and specific lighting conditions. The first attempts have already been successfully carried out in orbit. Our project partner Thales Alenia Space sees the future in orbital servicing systems. In the study we want to confirm, that within ten years Czech companies will not only be able to supply the world's biggest players with complete robotic systems for servicing satellites, but also that the companies will provide a complete service, including the management of servicing operations from a control centre."