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Towards Autonomous Planetary Exploration: The Lightweight Rover Unit (LRU), its Success in the SpaceBotCamp Challenge, and Beyond

Schuster, Martin J. and Brunner, Sebastian Georg and Bussmann, Kristin and Büttner, Stefan and Dömel, Andreas and Hellerer, Matthias and Lehner, Hannah and Lehner, Peter and Porges, Oliver and Reill, Josef and Riedel, Sebastian and Vayugundla, Mallikarjuna and Vodermayer, Bernhard and Bodenmüller, Tim and Brand, Christoph and Friedl, Werner and Grixa, Iris Lynne and Hirschmüller, Heiko and Kassecker, Michael and Marton, Zoltan-Csaba and Nissler, Christian and Felix, Ruess and Suppa, Michael and Wedler, Armin (2017) Towards Autonomous Planetary Exploration: The Lightweight Rover Unit (LRU), its Success in the SpaceBotCamp Challenge, and Beyond. Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems. Springer. DOI: 10.1007/s10846-017-0680-9 ISSN 0921-0296

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Official URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10846-017-0680-9

Abstract

Planetary exploration poses many challenges for a robot system: From weight and size constraints to extraterrestrial environment conditions, which constrain the suitable sensors and actuators. As the distance to other planets introduces a significant communication delay, the efficient operation of a robot system requires a high level of autonomy. In this work, we present our Lightweight Rover Unit (LRU), a small and agile rover prototype that we designed for the challenges of planetary exploration. Its locomotion system with individually steered wheels allows for high maneuverability in rough terrain and stereo cameras as its main sensors ensure the applicability to space missions. We implemented software components for self-localization in GPS-denied environments, autonomous exploration and mapping as well as computer vision, planning and control modules for the autonomous localization, pickup and assembly of objects with its manipulator. Additional high-level mission control components facilitate both autonomous behavior and remote monitoring of the system state over a delayed communication link. We successfully demonstrated the autonomous capabilities of our LRU at the SpaceBotCamp challenge, a national robotics contest with focus on autonomous planetary exploration. A robot had to autonomously explore an unknown Moon-like rough terrain, locate and collect two objects and assemble them after transport to a third object - which the LRU did on its first try, in half of the time and fully autonomously. The next milestone for our ongoing LRU development is an upcoming planetary exploration analogue mission to perform scientific experiments at a Moon analogue site located on a volcano.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/116749/
Document Type:Article
Additional Information:Video available at https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10846-017-0680-9 and at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCTkSxcna8o -- Open Access: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Title:Towards Autonomous Planetary Exploration: The Lightweight Rover Unit (LRU), its Success in the SpaceBotCamp Challenge, and Beyond
Authors:
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthors ORCID iD
Schuster, Martin J.martin.schuster (at) dlr.dehttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-6983-3719
Brunner, Sebastian Georgsebastian.brunner (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Bussmann, Kristinkristin.bussmann (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Büttner, Stefanstefan.buettner (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Dömel, Andreasandreas.doemel (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Hellerer, MatthiasMatthias.Hellerer (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Lehner, Hannahhannah.lehner (at) dlr.dehttps://orcid.org/0000-0001-5377-4155
Lehner, PeterPeter.Lehner (at) dlr.dehttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-3755-1186
Porges, OliverOliver.Porges (at) dlr.dehttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-2625-2364
Reill, JosefJosef.Reill (at) dlr.dehttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-4092-063X
Riedel, SebastianSebastian.Riedel (at) dlr.dehttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-3655-2486
Vayugundla, MallikarjunaMallikarjuna.Vayugundla (at) dlr.dehttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-9277-0461
Vodermayer, BernhardBernhard.Vodermayer (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Bodenmüller, TimTim.Bodenmueller (at) dlr.dehttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-0899-361X
Brand, ChristophChristoph.Brand (at) dlr.dehttps://orcid.org/0000-0001-5577-5952
Friedl, WernerWerner.Friedl (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Grixa, Iris LynneIris.Grixa (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Hirschmüller, Heikoheiko.hirschmueller (at) roboception.deUNSPECIFIED
Kassecker, Michaelmichael.kassecker (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Marton, Zoltan-CsabaZoltan.Marton (at) dlr.dehttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-3035-493X
Nissler, ChristianChristian.Nissler (at) dlr.dehttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-4361-9041
Felix, Ruessfelix.ruess (at) roboception.deUNSPECIFIED
Suppa, MichaelMichael.Suppa (at) roboception.deUNSPECIFIED
Wedler, ArminArmin.Wedler (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Date:7 November 2017
Journal or Publication Title:Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:No
In SCOPUS:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
DOI :10.1007/s10846-017-0680-9
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0921-0296
Status:Published
Keywords:autonomous mobile robots; planetary exploration; robotic challenge; localization; navigation; exploration; mapping; SLAM; object detection; object pose estimation; manipulation; robot control; autonomous task execution; robotic system; robot locomotion; power distribution; robot simulation
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Space Technology
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R SY - Technik für Raumfahrtsysteme
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Project Morex
Location: Oberpfaffenhofen
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics (since 2013) > Perception and Cognition
Institute of System Dynamics and Control > Space System Dynamics
Deposited By: Schuster, Martin
Deposited On:08 Dec 2017 16:43
Last Modified:06 Sep 2019 15:20

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