Sherborne Sensors Limited - PRODUCT NEWS

Sherborne Sensors’ load cells support Moon and Mars micro-rover mobility system

SS4000M miniature force transducer selected for accuracy, range and
reliability, as well as providing a path to flight testing

London, UK, 5th July, 2012– Sherborne Sensors, a global leader in the
design, development and manufacture of sensors for military, aerospace
and industrial applications, has helped Canada’s Carleton University
complete development of an innovative mobility system for a prototype
micro-rover that in future may perform exploratory research missions
on the Moon and Mars. Sherborne Sensors’ SS4000M miniature force
transducers are situated over each of the wheel hubs and are
integrated into the mechanical system of the chassis to provide
critical data that will improve traction and combat slippage when the
micro-rover is traversing a Martian surface.

“There is a high possibility of a rover getting stuck on the Martian
surface because the soil is fine grained – slippage occurs while
driving the wheels without making any forward motion resulting in
significant power drain,” says Alex Ellery, professor of mechanical
and aerospace engineering at Carleton University and Canada Research
Chair in Space, Robotics and Space Technology. “By putting a load cell
above each wheel station, we are able to measure the vehicle’s
tractive capability (friction) continuously as it drives across the
surface and from that, using sophisticated modelling software, we can
throttle the power to reduce the amount of slippage.”

Named ‘Kapvik’ after the Canadian Wolverine, the micro-rover is one of
the first rover designs to incorporate force sensors above the wheel
hubs to sense the normal load exerted on each wheel and is being
developed under a $1.8-million (CAD) contract commissioned by the
Canadian Space Agency (CSA). “The chassis and frame for Kapvik was
built ‘from the ground up’ using a rocker-bogie design, which is
proven for negotiating obstacles of up to 15 cm in height and where
speed is not a concern (Kapvik’s top speed is 80 metres per hour),”
states Dr Ala’ Qadi, the project manager at Carleton University.
“However, we recognised that it would need to obtain sensor readings
from over the chassis and combine these with the actual load power
ratings in order to enable dynamic traction control.”
Kapvik’s modular architecture allows for optimal reconfiguration for
Moon and Mars exploration and the micro-rover prototype has been
submitted to the CSA for further terrestrial field tests that will
reproduce key conditions of space missions. The CSA stipulated that
all components employed by Kapvik be ‘flight representative’, which
ensures a path to flight qualification should a mission be confirmed.
Sherborne Sensors’ SS4000M miniature force transducers were selected
for their small size and wide range, as well as the fact the company
has experience in working on space qualified systems. Sherborne
Sensors was recently awarded AS9100:2009 Rev C, the international
standard that specifies requirements for a quality management system
for Aviation, Space and Defense Organizations.

“The SS4000M force transducers were the perfect size and range for the
application and working with Sherborne Sensors has been great,” says
Tim Setterfield, who designed Kapvik’s mobility system while studying
for a Master’s of Aerospace Engineering at Carleton University. “They
provided a considerable amount of additional information that proved
extremely helpful with our modelling and analysis, while their
previous experience in flight qualification will be important moving

About Sherborne Sensors:
Sherborne Sensors is a global leader in the design, manufacture and supply of high-precision inclinometers, accelerometers, force transducers and load cells, rotary encoders, instrumentation and accessories for industrial, military and aerospace customers. Products offered under the Sherborne Sensors brand are renowned for their ultra-reliability and long-life precision within critical applications. Recent acquisition of synergistic technologies by Sherborne Sensors within our inclinometer and force and load cell offerings has allowed customers to benefit from expanded product lines, with added benefits of engineering support, global sales presence, repair, refurbishment and calibration services, stocking programs, and continuous product improvement.

For more information, please contact :-

Robin Butler
Sherborne Sensors Limited
1 Ringway Centre, Edison Road, Basingstoke RG21 6YH United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)1908 673 868
Web :

June 2012

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