Autonomous capture testing and evaluation of the WVRTC machine vision algorithms continue as the deadline to deliver a simulated capture in a ground-based setting nears. The WVRTC engineers have been working tirelessly to prepare an autonomous capture system to replicate on ground the grapple and docking phase of a satellite capture procedure in geostationary orbit. The replicated test uses two robotic manipulators, one with a vision system and grapple tool, and the second with a mockup section of a satellite being captured. The robot arm with the vision system detects the location of the target and controls its own position (without human interaction) to approach and grab the target. The approach initiates from meters away to the point where the grapple tool contacts the detected feature on the mockup satellite.
In order to validate the algorithms and make them robust to various environment conditions, the WVRTC staff tests under changing lighting conditions, various starting positions and orientations, and using different robot approach speeds.