Canada's main contribution to the US Space Shuttle program has been the Canadian Space Agency robotic manipulator arms, Canadarm and Canadarm2.
Also called the Space Station Remote Manipulator System, the second-generation Canadarm2 helped build the International Space Station, and has been used there to support astronauts working in space, move equipment and supplies, perform maintenance, and manipulate large payloads.
The CSA has unveiled its third-generation Canadarm prototypes, known as the Next-Generation Canadarm (NGC) project. It consists of four robotic elements -- the Large Canadarm, Small Canadarm, Proximity Operations Systems Testbed, and Semi-Autonomous Docking System -- and the Missions Operations Station. The testbed comprises two industrial robotic systems that will simulate bringing two moving spacecraft within a few meters of each other. The mission operations station allows all of the NGC systems to be operated remotely. Combined, all five form a facility the CSA says will help it test and develop new mission concepts and hardware.
Click on the image below to check out the evolution of the Canadarm.
The NGC Large Canadarm is a 15m robotic arm that fits inside a minivan when its segments are telescoped together. Although its reach is as long as Canadarm2's, it is lighter and folds up more compactly to fit on future, smaller spacecraft. It will be used on Earth as a testbed to simulate arm deployment during tasks such as capturing and docking spacecraft for refueling. (Source: NASA)
Rob, the Canadarm was designed to work in a weightless, zero-G environment, as we discussed below regarding Lou's comment. So the only "crossover" apps would be others in space, since the arms are too heavy to operate in Earth's 1G.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.