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Lidar Pose Tracking of a Tumbling Spacecraft Using the Smoothed Normal Distribution Transform

Renaut, Léo and Frei, Heike and Nüchter, Andreas (2023) Lidar Pose Tracking of a Tumbling Spacecraft Using the Smoothed Normal Distribution Transform. Remote Sensing, 15 (9), p. 2286. Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI). doi: 10.3390/rs15092286. ISSN 2072-4292.

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Lidar sensors enable precise pose estimation of an uncooperative spacecraft in close range. In this context, the iterative closest point (ICP) is usually employed as a tracking method. However, when the size of the point clouds increases, the required computation time of the ICP can become a limiting factor. The normal distribution transform (NDT) is an alternative algorithm which can be more efficient than the ICP, but suffers from robustness issues. In addition, lidar sensors are also subject to motion blur effects when tracking a spacecraft tumbling with a high angular velocity, leading to a loss of precision in the relative pose estimation. This work introduces a smoothed formulation of the NDT to improve the algorithm's robustness while maintaining its efficiency. Additionally, two strategies are investigated to mitigate the effects of motion blur. The first consists in un-distorting the point cloud, while the second is a continuous-time formulation of the NDT. Hardware-in-the-loop tests at the European Proximity Operations Simulator demonstrate the capability of the proposed methods to precisely track an uncooperative spacecraft under realistic conditions within tens of milliseconds, even when the spacecraft tumbles with a significant angular rate.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/196288/
Document Type:Article
Title:Lidar Pose Tracking of a Tumbling Spacecraft Using the Smoothed Normal Distribution Transform
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Renaut, LéoUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-0726-299X139584211
Frei, HeikeUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-0836-9171UNSPECIFIED
Date:26 April 2023
Journal or Publication Title:Remote Sensing
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Page Range:p. 2286
Publisher:Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI)
Keywords:pose tracking, uncooperative space rendezvous, lidar, normal distribution transform
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Robotics
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R RO - Robotics
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - RICADOS++ [RO], R - Project ScOSA flight experiment
Location: Oberpfaffenhofen
Institutes and Institutions:Space Operations and Astronaut Training > Space Flight Technology
Deposited By: Renaut, Leo Tullio Richard
Deposited On:31 Jul 2023 10:11
Last Modified:31 Jul 2023 10:11

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