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Inchworm Robot: Modular & Cost-Effective for Space Missions

company logo for GITAI GITAI

Country: United States of America

Year: 2016


From repair work to scientific experiments, Inchworm Robot by GITAI enhances space missions with its unique modular & cost-effective design

Status: Prototype, In development

Operation: Autonomous, Semi-autonomous, Teleoperation

Robot Type / Domain: Research, Space

Tasks: Maintenance, repair, & scientific experiment in space stations & satellites

Whimsical Intro (by addoobot)

How long can you stretch? Well, keep stretching till you reach the stars—that's what the Inchworm Robot is aiming for! And if it's not long enough, just snap another one. Stretching the possibilities, one segment at a time!

Major Events or News

  • The S2 robotic arm by GITAI, which shares many key components and functionalities with the Inchworm Robot, has obtained NASA's Technology Readiness Level 7 (TRL7) due to successful demonstrations outside the International Space Station (ISS) in March 2024. By extension, this also means that the Inchworm Robot has also achieved TRL7. 

More Videos

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The Inchworm Robot by GITAI
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Successful demonstrations outside the ISS
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A ground demonstration of communication tower construction
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GITAI facilities and US office introduction

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Introducing the Inchworm Robot: A Frontier in Space Robotics

GITAI's robotic arm, Inchworm Robot, not only thrives in the vast emptiness of space but is also created to carry out various tasks, from maintenance and repairs to scientific experiments. It is specially designed to handle the unique challenges present in space stations and satellites. Thus, it is a versatile and reliable partner for astronauts and has special abilities that are discussed below. 

A Swiss Army Knife in Space: Applications and Use Cases

There are numerous tasks that the Inchworm Robot can complete onboard space stations and satellites. These tasks include docking spacecraft and performing various repair, assembly, manufacturing, and maintenance tasks. 

More specifically, this robotic arm is capable of tasks such as object manipulation (e.g., replacing damaged parts or manipulating flexible items such as blankets), changing tools for different tasks, connecting to cables and accessories, and screwing or unscrewing bolts. This robot arm not only performs these tasks, but it does so with exceptional precision and reliability. It also has the potential to cooperate with another arm (just like the S2 robotic arm by GITAI) to enhance performance and expand its capabilities.

What enables the Inchworm Robot to perform these tasks is its unique features. For one, there is a grapple end-effector on both ends of the arm, allowing various end-effector tools or payloads to be connected for specialized as well as general-purpose tasks. Another standout feature of the robot arm is its 7 Degrees of Freedom (7-DoF), which provides greater dexterity and maneuverability. It is also 2 meters long, and you can even snap two Inchworm Robots together to double its length.

What Makes the Inchworm Robot Special - Features and Benefits

Other than its grapple end-effector and dexterous design, this robot arm offers operations with the right blend of autonomy and human touch. This means that while it operates mostly on its own, it also incorporates a "human-in-the-loop" system. Thus, combining the best of both worlds: the robotic arm operates autonomously, but when needed, the operators can step in and make critical decisions that ensure the safety and success of each mission. 

Cost-effectiveness is another superpower of the Inchworm Robot. Not only is it comparatively affordable, but it also has a modular design. This modularity enables particular segments to be changed, thereby reducing costs. For example, if a part of the very long arm is damaged, it is more cost-effective and efficient to replace just that segment rather than the entire robot arm.

Brief History

Founded in July 2016 by Sho Nakanose, GITAI is a space robotics company. The company quickly gained traction, securing its first venture capital investment just two months after its founding.

The company has an ambitious goal: reduce operational costs 100 times. How? Through hiring excellent talent and having exceptional and highly experienced executives the company is aiming to create affordable yet reliable and powerful robots for space work. This includes the Inchworm Robot, known for its modularity and versatility. This robot has been a key component in GITAI's portfolio, supporting its vision of providing safe and affordable labor for space infrastructure projects. 

After achieving several milestones, completing numerous successful demonstrations, and deploying its technology in space, the company is now poised to offer on-orbit servicing in 2026.

Technical Specifications

Max. Reach: 2000 mm

Max. Reach: 78.740 in

Payload: N/A

Max. Payload: N/A

Pose Repeatability: ± 1 mm

Pose Repeatability: ± 0.039 in

Weight: 50 kg

Weight: 110.231 lbs

Arm Type: Articulated, Dual-arm

Number of Axes: 7 DoF

IP Rating: N/A

Mounting: Floor, Ceiling, Wall, Any desired angle

Footprint: N/A

Operating Temperature: -20 ℃ to 60 ℃

Operating Temperature: -4.000 ℉ to 140.000 ℉

Rated Continuous Joint Torque @ Ta=25℃: 368 Nm

Rated Maximum Angular Velocity: 32.6 deg/s (@ 24V input) • 64.9 deg/s (@ 48V input)

Options: Redundant avionics, including OBC

Sensors: 19bit Absolute Encoder on input/output • Motor Current Sensor • Temperature sensor on boards/motors • etc.

Actuators: Brushless DC Motor, Harmonic Drive

Power supply: Drive Power Supply: 24-48 Vdc

Power Consumption: 60 W standby, 200 W peak

Data Transmission / Communication: Internal Communication Bus: EtherCAT

No more specs to show.

Please visit the official website for more accurate, up-to-date, and complete information on this post. Visit website   External Link Icon Specifications   External Link Icon

Comment by addoobot - Our Perspective

Much like its namesake, we believe this Inchworm Robot is modular and capable of performing various tasks in micro-gravity. Not only does it have flexibility and autonomy, but it is also affordable and reliable for space applications. We particularly like the ability to connect Inchworm Robots together to extend their length. 

addoorable score:
We rate the robot a solid 10 out of 10 for its practicality, modularity, and impact. But who's looking for 'addoorability' in space, right? If you do, drop us a comment below.

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