Robonaut 2 in the Destiny U.S. Laboratory during the first use of the Robonaut Tele-operation System. Robonaut is a dexterous humanoid robot designed to manipulate hardware, work in high risk environments and respond safely to unexpected obstacles. Credit: NASA

PASADENA, Calif. – Olis Robotics, a company that offers software for mobile remote robots, sees many applications for its artificial intelligence to support internal and external space servicing, assembly, manufacturing and operational concepts,” Blaine Levedahl, Olis Robotics U.S. government programs director, said May 22 at the Space Tech Expo here.

Olis Robotics announced its latest government funding May 21. The U.S. Air Force awarded the Seattle startup $50,000 in a phase one Small Business Innovative Research award to explore the application of its software for satellite servicing. Olis Robotics will “solve for latency concerns through its AI components, which allow the robot to safely operate within set levels of autonomy even when commands are delayed,” according to the company’s May 21 news release.

“We’re pleased to be working with the Air Force to help extend the life of existing satellites, potentially saving hundreds of millions of dollars, with the precision to refuel, repair or update components while the satellites are in orbit,” Don Pickering, Olis Robotics CEO, said in a statement. “Olis Robotics’ progressive autonomy software platform enables the ability to use robotics in orbit to service satellites and reduce the cost of maintaining and upgrading existing satellite systems.”

Olis Robotics, formerly called BluHaptics, relies on artificial intelligence to offer varying degrees of autonomy for mobile robotic systems equipped with robotic arms or manipulators. The company found success initially working with customers in the subsea oil and gas industry, Levedahl said.

Olis Robotics won a NASA SBIR phase two award in 2018 to apply its software to remote robotic operations in space. “The primary goal of our Phase II effort is to develop and deliver a solution that enables intuitive tele-robotic control in dynamic scenarios, such as when targets and possibly interfering objects are moving in the workspace,” according to the project abstract on the SBIR website.

NanoRacks announced in October the inclusion of Olis Robotis on its team exploring the merit of repurposing spent launch vehicle upper stages to create orbiting outposts.

Founded in 2013, Olis Robotics is a spinoff from the University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...