Tohoku University
The Space Robotics Lab (Space Exploration Lab)
Department of Aerospace Engineering, Graduate School of Engineering

Associate Professor
Assistant Professor
Assistant Professor
Toshinori KUWAHARA
Assistant Professor


We are recovering from the Quake!

Thank you for your kind words and warm messages from all over the world.
The earthquake on March 11, 2011 was devastating though, all our lab members and families were safe and sound.
Now we are taking swift action to recover from this extraordinary situation and, even more, trying to provide technologies for disaster relief.

IEEE Spectrum blog article on March 18

We are a member of Quince development team.


Is Tohoku University (Sendai city) a safe place? -- YES!

Tohoku University in Sendai city is located almost 100 km away from FUKUSHIMA DAIICHI nuclear power plant. According to a report released by US Department of Energy on April 18th, the first year dose (cumulative dose in case you continuously stay for 365 days since March 16th, 2011) is estimated less than 1 mSv (100 mrem) in Sendai city, which is outside of 80 km (50 mile) circle (a map is shown on Page 3).

Our robots can tolerate 50 Sv of Gamma-ray dose!

Human body may have problems (such as increased risks of cancer) with more than 1 mSv of nuclear radiation dose per year. However, our robots can tolerate 50 Sv or more. As we have been working on a number of space programs and, particularly, university-based development of micro-satellites, we have some background knowledge and data on the tolerance of electronic devices in radioactive environments. For example, we use commercial (non-space qualified) components such as CPUs and CCD/CMOS cameras in our robot Quince. But those devices have been confirmed functional against total of 50 Sv or more Gamma-ray dose without any special protection (See our report.) Robots are expected to work in highly radioactive areas instead of human workers, to avoid unnecessary exposure onto their bodies. (Note: 1 Gy = 1 Sv in Gamma-ray)

Important Notices from Tohoku University

Message from the President

Robotics for Space Science and Exploration Missions

The Space Robotics Laboratory, led by Professor Yoshida, is dedicated to the research and development of the robotic systems for space science and exploration missions. The lab has contributed to the Engineering Test Satellite-VII (launched in 1997 for orbital robotics experiments) and "Hayabusa" asteroid sample-return probe (launched in 2003 and expected to return in 2010). Today one of our focuses is put on the mechanics and control of lunar exploration rovers. Technologies for remote planetary exploration (such as mapping and localization in the unstructured environment, rough terrain mobility, and teleoperation with time delay) can also be applied to the robots for search and rescue missions.

Research Topics
Free-Flying Space Robot: Engineering Test Satellite-VII (1997-1999) is the world-first free-flying space robot in orbit. We have conducted valuable flight experiments that opened a new research field of orbital robotics.
"Hayabusa" is an asteroid sample-return probe expected to return to the Earth in 2010. We have contributed to the touch-down sampling on Asteroid "Itokawa", one of most critical challeng of the mission, which was successfully conducted in 2005.
Lunar/Planetary Exploration Rovers: Rough terrain mobility and traction control in the loose soil environment are our central focus of the research. We are on the cutting-edge of the field robotics research.
SPRITE-SAT: The SPRITE-SAT is a small satellites for significant scientific observation. It will be launched onboard the JAXA's H-IIA rocket in winter 2008/2009 as a piggyback payload.
Project ARLISS: Tohoku University Student Teams Won 2006 ARLISS Comeback Competition.

The SpaceDyn
Lab Poster 2008

News Updates

(photo: Hayato Ikegami)