Olis Robotics and Tethers Unlimited Launch Development of New Remotely Operated “Smart” Robots for Space Stations

New collaboration explores development of a new variable-autonomy remote robotic manipulator to support space habitats and International Space Station operations

SEATTLE, Washington, July 22, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --

Olis Robotics, a leader in next-generation mobile remote robotics software, today announced a new agreement with Tethers Unlimited, Inc. (TUI), a leader in high-performance components and innovative systems for space applications. The two Washington-based technology leaders signed an agreement to leverage their unique hardware and software expertise to explore development of a new remotely operated robotic product to address the unmet needs of existing operations aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and for future space habitats.

“Olis Robotics’ machine learning and artificial intelligence technology will set the standard for robotics leading future space exploration. Our variable autonomy software platform allows operators anywhere in the world to command new levels of precision, safety, and efficiency in remotely operating robotics in space,” explained Olis Robotics CEO Don Pickering. “We’re solving the challenges of providing remote operators safe, reliable, and efficient command and control capability over communication channels with time delay and dropouts. The technological leap will be mandatory, especially for manipulators in space.”

This new collaboration follows several successful partnerships between the two technology leaders. Over the past year, Olis Robotics’ has supported TUI’s NASA-funded MANTIS and FabLab programs by providing enhanced command and control capability for TUI’s Kraken robotic manipulator product line. Olis Robotics’ platform allows robots to perform some tasks autonomously and reduce operator workload on other tasks leading to safer, more efficient operation.

“Our collaboration with Olis Robotics will integrate advanced teleoperation and variable autonomy capabilities into our KRAKEN Arm and MANTIS payload, providing the ability to offload menial, repetitive tasks from the astronauts to remote operators. Imagine how much more science we can get out of the ISS if we can have a graduate student in a lab controlling experiments that currently we’d need to wait weeks or months to have an astronaut do,” said Dr. Rob Hoyt, President and CEO at TUI. “We expect this collaborative effort to enable lower costs when performing existing operations, address the needs of future space habitats, and help enable humanity to be a space faring society.”

Tethers Unlimited and Olis Robotics’ will leverage their developed technologies to enable a market-focused product that will provide operators the ability to remotely conduct in-space experiments, and test materials and manufacturing processes. This partnership is expected to produce a viable remotely operated robotic solution for space habitats such as the ISS as early as next year. 

Follow Olis Robotics on Twitter and Tethers Unlimited on Facebook for the latest progress.

ABOUT OLIS ROBOTICS: Olis Robotics, formerly known as BluHaptics, has developed a next-generation software platform that greatly expands the capabilities of pilot-controlled service robots in dynamic environments from space, to subsea and the terrestrial field. Olis enables vast improvements in robotic dexterity, precision, efficiency, and overall mission success, while simultaneously reducing downtime and driving down costs, through an AI-driven software platform. Olis Robotics was founded in 2013 as a spinout from the Applied Physics Lab at the University of Washington and is based in Seattle with offices in Europe.

ABOUT TETHERS UNLIMITED, INC.: Tethers Unlimited, Inc. develops transformative technologies for Space and Defense missions.  Its technology portfolio includes programmable radios for small satellites, advanced space propulsion modules, and systems for in-space manufacturing of spacecraft components. To learn more about TUI and its products, please visit www.tethers.com.


An artist’s conception shows a Mantis robotic arm at work on Tethers Unlimited’s Refabricator 3-D printer and recycler. (Tethers Unlimited / Olis Robotics Illustration)

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