HOTDOCK is a product line of mating interfaces for robotic manipulation providing an androgynous coupling to transfer mechanical loads, electrical power, data and (optionally) thermal loads through a single interface. It allows assembly and reconfiguration of spacecraft and payloads on-orbit and on planetary surfaces. It is designed to support launch loads and makes it straightforward to replace failed modules, or to swap payloads and provides chainable data interfaces for multiple module configurations. Mounted on the tip of robotic manipulators, HOTDOCK performs as a quick connect/disconnect interface for end-effectors and tools.
HOTDOCK is a mating interface providing:
- Strong MECHANICAL I/F for structural coupling
- Managed ELECTRICAL I/F to control and distribute power to electrical subsystems
- Bi-directional DATA I/F to exchange data at high rate between data processing units
- Optional THERMAL I/F by direct conduction or by fluid coolant transfer.
HOTDOCK is an androgynous mating mechanism. This enables identical interface elements to be used for coupling payload modules, spacecraft bus or the End-Effector mounted at the tip of a robotic manipulator arm. When mounted on a robotic manipulator arm, HOTDOCK can be used as a tool changer for quick connect and release of robotic End-Effectors and other tools that expose HOTDOCK as their mating interface (e.g. gripper, wrench, drill, sensor, inspection camera). Alternate interfaces are currently in development but none offer the breadth of features offered by HOTDOCK. HOTDOCK has a high load coupling capacity, is based on a robust design using a co-radial structure offering maximum packing density and is capable of supporting launch loads in coupled configuration. Its closed shape design is suitable for hermetic sealing (dust proof). Thanks to its self-alignment features, HOTDOCK provides precise guidance for alignment during the coupling process. The system is designed with safety in mind. If one of the interfaces is inoperable (e.g. in case of a power failure), the remaining powered interface is still able to drive the pair of interfaces and complete the coupling or decoupling process. HOTDOCK is designed to address the needs of future on-orbit and planetary missions.