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X-aRm, a Force-Feedback Device to Train Future Astronauts with eXtended Realities



Organisational Unit
Implementation progress
03 May 2022

Duration: 18 months


The presented idea proposes to use eXtended Realities (XR) with a novel design of a haptic device to assist the training of future space visitors. This device will be a high-end, robust exoskeleton capable to provide force-feedback to one arm when interacting with a virtual world. As a primary application, we aim to enable immersive training for Extravehicular Activities (EVA) using a Virtual Reality headset to create a convincing Force-Feedback + XR experience of microgravity and interaction with spacecraft structures. Space Applications Services has more than 10 years of experience working with exoskeletons complemented by XR technologies. For instance, we have used our upper-body exoskeleton, DEXO, to carry out dexterous telemanipulation for underwater applications and to explore in a preliminary study the potential for astronaut training assisted with Virtual Reality. Our previous prototypes of the exoskeleton used capstan-based technologies, with inherent maintenance complexity. Furthermore, previous prototypes did not have a strong focus on comfort and sturdiness. With the present project, we aim to leverage our experience with exoskeletons + XR and lessons learnt through previous studies to develop a novel system for training, with a focus on robustness, transparency and comfort. In order to do so, we will transition from using 3D printed technologies to CNC parts, and we will implement promising, state of the art actuation consisting of frameless hollow shaft "pancake" BLDC motors with harmonic drives. The design drivers of this novel exoskeleton, and the technological approach we are intending to rely upon, shall substantially improve the usability and benefit of that technology for astronauts training. In the available budget, a 4 DoF setup will be worked out and validated in relevant and realistic EVA-related use cases. Shall outcomes meet expectations, next step will be to implement a full double arms and hands setup based on the same technology.

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X-aRm, a Force-Feedback Device to Train Future Astronauts with eXtended Realities