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IBT: UC researchers developing AI robots to repair satellites

Engineering professor Ou Ma is developing robots that can work independently but collaboratively

The International Business Times talked to University of Cincinnati engineering professor Ou Ma about his research into satellites that fix other satellites in orbit.

Ma, a professor of aerospace engineering in UC's College of Engineering and Applied Science, is working on both the robotics and the artificial intelligence required for satellites to dock with other satellites for refueling or repairs.

For his research team's latest study, published last month in the journal Robotica, they programmed robots to work independently but collaboratively to complete a task – moving a small token across a table to a designated spot using only attached strings.

Simply docking with another satellite in orbit requires extreme precision and coordination, Ma said.

"To grab something in space is really difficult. And grabbing something that’s tumbling in space is even more difficult,” Ma told the International Business Times.

Featured image at top: UC engineering professor Ou Ma and his students use a virtual reality simulator to examine the International Space Station. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative Services

Ou Ma manipulates a virtual world wearing VR goggles.

UC engineering professor Ou Ma uses virtual reality tools in his Intelligent Robotics and Autonomous Systems Lab. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative Services

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At the University of Cincinnati, aerospace engineering students will launch their own satellites into space and are helping NASA plan the next mission to Mars. Students in UC's College of Engineering and Applied Science tackle real-world problems. Explore programs at the graduate and undergraduate level.