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January 20, 2014: USC Works on DARPA StarCell Contract

Press Release
CONTACT: Megan Hazle - 213-821-1887 or hazle@usc.edu
January 20, 2014 —


University of Southern California’s (USC) Information Sciences Institute (ISI) announced today that it has won an approximately $1 million contract for advanced research in new robotic morphologies from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The focus of the award is to produce modules (referred to as StarCell’s) that can perform general-purpose functions of satellites combined with robots in space. The project proposes to reduce the cost for future space systems and enable multi-functional, innovative and adaptive space structures and capabilities beyond today’s fixed-purpose space systems.

“The StarCell project is designed to strategically advance the technologies for future space systems,” said Dr. Wei-Min Shen, the PI of StarCell and the director of Polymorphic Robotics Lab at USC ISI, “based on self-Reconfigurable modular systems, StarCell is expected to make breakthroughs in the related research areas and pave the way for building space elements that have diverse functions and low cost and risk.”

The proposed StarCell modules are based on recent advancements in self-reconfigurable robots and a new morphology of satellite construction, called satlets. USC ISI intends to design and build the modules to commingle USC’s state-of-the- art robotic-modules with NovaWurks’ Hyper-Integrated Satlets (HiSat™). The StarCell modules would be launched into space, self-assemble into multiple structures and perform satellite and robotic functions. They would offer flexible, affordable and adaptive structures and functions for space applications.

“The StarCell project signifies a potentially gigantic leap forward in future space exploration,” said Talbot Jaeger, founder and Chief Technologist at NovaWurks,“ By producing cellular modules that allow for self-assembly and reconfiguration, as needed, the project may enable multiple mission functions at a fraction of the cost of traditional space technology.”


About the USC Viterbi School of Engineering
Engineering Studies began at the University of Southern California in 1905. Nearly a century later, the Viterbi School of Engineering received a naming gift in 2004 from alumnus Andrew J. Viterbi, inventor of the Viterbi algorithm now key to cell phone technology and numerous data applications. Consistently ranked among the top graduate programs in the world, the school enrolls more than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students, taught by 174 tenured and tenure-track faculty, with 60 endowed chairs and professorships. http://viterbi.usc.edu

About USC’s Information Sciences Institute
USC’s Information Sciences Institute (ISI) is a large, university-based research institute and works on a broad spectrum of information processing, intelligent systems and robots, and advanced computer and communication technology and systems. ISI emphasizes on programs that blend basic and applied research and has a distinguished history of producing exceptional research contributions and successful prototype systems under DARPA, NSF, and NASA support. For more information, visit www.isi.edu.

NovaWurks, Inc.
NovaWurks, Inc., located in Los Alamitos, Calif., invents, designs, builds and delivers high technology products and services for a broad range of applications for space. The company is best known for their Hyper-Integrated Satlets (HiSat™) technology, an integrated building block that is contained within a single, aggregable unit all of the functional capabilities of an autonomous satellite. The NovaWurks team of scientists, designers and engineers offers a diverse background in spaceflight, consulting and research with decades of experience in executing complex, visionary projects for government, military and corporate clients. For more information, visit www.novawurks.com.

Megan Hazle - 213-821-1887 or hazle@usc.edu