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Operationally Relevant Behavior Assessment Using the Robotic On-Board Trainer for Research (ROBoT-r)

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INTRODUCTION: Spaceflight can strain astronaut physical, physiological, and mental well-being, whereas maintaining astronaut operational performance remains an essential goal. Although various cognitive tests have been used for spaceflight assessment, these have been challenged on their lack of operational relevance.

METHODS: To address this gap, we developed and characterized the Robotic On-Board Trainer for Research (ROBoT-r) system, based on the Robotic On-Board Trainer (ROBoT) currently used for astronaut training on Canadarm2 track-and-capture activities. The task requires use of dual hand-controllers (6 degrees of freedom) to grapple an incoming vehicle in free-drift in a time-limited setting. After developing a platform for conducting research studies, characterization testing of ROBoT-r was completed by 14 astronaut-like volunteers (35 ± 11 yr; N = 5 women) over 16 sessions each.

RESULTS: We describe the design and capabilities of the ROBoT-r system for conducting operationally relevant research on human performance. Version 6.2 of the system supports H-II Transfer Vehicle track-and-capture operations within a multimillion component, physics-enabled 3D model using NASA’s DOUG graphics platform. It has configurable task initialization and auto-run capabilities, saves 38 variables continuously at 20 Hz throughout each run, provides the user quantitative feedback after each run, and provides summaries after each session. Detailed performance characterization data is reported for future experimental planning purposes.

DISCUSSION: ROBoT-r’s range of performance variables enables detailed and quantitative performance assessment. Its use in spaceflight will help provide insight into operational performance, as well as allowing investigators to compare these results with more traditional cognitive tests to help better understand the interaction between individual cognitive abilities and operational performance.

Ivkovic V, Sommers B, Cefaratti DA, Newman G, Thomas DW, Alexander DG, Strangman GE. Operationally relevant behavior assessment using the Robotic On-Board Trainer for Research (ROBoT-r). Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2019; 90(9):819–825.
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Keywords: Canadarm2; operational performance; robotic operation; track and capture

Document Type: Technical Note

Publication date: September 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • This journal (formerly Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine), representing the members of the Aerospace Medical Association, is published monthly for those interested in aerospace medicine and human performance. It is devoted to serving and supporting all who explore, travel, work, or live in hazardous environments ranging from beneath the sea to the outermost reaches of space. The original scientific articles in this journal provide the latest available information on investigations into such areas as changes in ambient pressure, motion sickness, increased or decreased gravitational forces, thermal stresses, vision, fatigue, circadian rhythms, psychological stress, artificial environments, predictors of success, health maintenance, human factors engineering, clinical care, and others. This journal also publishes notes on scientific news and technical items of interest to the general reader, and provides teaching material and reviews for health care professionals.

    To access volumes 74 through 85, please click here.
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