Miranda Dobson

North Yorkshire firm wins NASA approval

A Yorkshire-based robotics technology firm has been recognised by NASA for its contribution to QTC™ technology, which will enable improvements in data collection from outer space.

The advances made by Peratech, which is based in Brompton-on-Swale, were used by the American space exploration organisation to provide fingertip touch abilities to its “Robonaut” project.

The Robonaut is a human shaped robot which will be used by NASA in space missions to gather data.NASA awarded Peratech with the Tech Brief award after its contribution to the pioneering technology, which allows nearly human-like sensitivity in extreme and difficult conditions.

David Lussey, founder and CTO of Peratech, said: “The Robonaut was designed to be deployed in space missions.

“NASA chose our Quantum Tunnelling Composite technology for the robotic finger sensors as it provided really sensitive feedback - as good as a human hand - and was tough enough to withstand the rigours of space.

“The sensors worked so well that NASA has given us an Award.”

The Robonaut is made up of a metal torso and two highly dexterous arms with robust and sensitive hands, which allow the robot to carry out a wide variety of tasks.

Mr Lussey continued: “There is nothing to wear out, no air gap that can be contaminated by dust or sand or liquids, so the MTBF is much greater than conventional alternatives - something that NASA appreciated as service calls in space are expensive.”

Peratech developed the QTC™ materials to commercialise the product in 2006, and it is now used internationally by ILC Dover, Samsung and Shadow Robotics.The company also owns textile innovators SOFTswitch™, and Eleksen™.

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