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Proceedings Paper

Starbugs: all-singing, all-dancing fibre positioning robots
Author(s): James Gilbert; Michael Goodwin; Jeroen Heijmans; Rolf Muller; Stan Miziarski; Jurek Brzeski; Lew Waller; Will Saunders; Alex Bennet; Julia Tims
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Paper Abstract

Starbugs are miniature piezoelectric 'walking' robots with the ability to simultaneously position many optical fibres across a telescope's focal plane. Their simple design incorporates two piezoceramic tubes to form a pair of concentric 'legs' capable of taking individual steps of a few microns, yet with the capacity to move a payload several millimetres per second. The Australian Astronomical Observatory has developed this technology to enable fast and accurate field reconfigurations without the inherent limitations of more traditional positioning techniques, such as the 'pick and place' robotic arm. We report on our recent successes in demonstrating Starbug technology, driven principally by R&D efforts for the planned MANIFEST (many instrument fibre-system) facility for the Giant Magellan Telescope. Significant performance gains have resulted from improvements to the Starbug system, including i) the use of a vacuum to attach Starbugs to the underside of a transparent field plate, ii) optimisation of the control electronics, iii) a simplified mechanical design with high sensitivity piezo actuators, and iv) the construction of a dedicated laboratory 'test rig'. A method of reliably rotating Starbugs in steps of several arcminutes has also been devised, which integrates with the pre-existing x-y movement directions and offers greater flexibility while positioning. We present measured performance data from a prototype system of 10 Starbugs under full (closed-loop) control, at field plate angles of 0-90 degrees.

Paper Details

Date Published: 13 September 2012
PDF: 14 pages
Proc. SPIE 8450, Modern Technologies in Space- and Ground-based Telescopes and Instrumentation II, 84501A (13 September 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.924502
Show Author Affiliations
James Gilbert, Australian Astronomical Observatory (Australia)
Michael Goodwin, Australian Astronomical Observatory (Australia)
Jeroen Heijmans, Australian Astronomical Observatory (Australia)
Rolf Muller, Australian Astronomical Observatory (Australia)
Stan Miziarski, Australian Astronomical Observatory (Australia)
Jurek Brzeski, Australian Astronomical Observatory (Australia)
Lew Waller, Australian Astronomical Observatory (Australia)
Will Saunders, Australian Astronomical Observatory (Australia)
Alex Bennet, Australian Astronomical Observatory (Australia)
Julia Tims, Australian Astronomical Observatory (Australia)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8450:
Modern Technologies in Space- and Ground-based Telescopes and Instrumentation II
Ramón Navarro; Colin R. Cunningham; Eric Prieto, Editor(s)

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