After almost two years of work and due to travel restrictions due to COVID-19, which prevented the originally planned trip to Fuerteventura between March 15 and April 16, 2021, the last tests of the room took place in Bremen robotics project ADE (Autonomous DEcision Making in very long trusses).
ADE is part of the SRC (Strategic Robotic Cluster) program for space robot technologies, which is coordinated by the PERASPERA project as part of the Horizon 2020 program. The aim is to develop and test a mobile robot system with which scientific data can be obtained opportunistically and autonomous long-distance travel can be made.
The ADE project is coordinated by GMV and, together with thirteen partners from all over Europe *, is dedicated to the autonomous decision-making of robotic media specifically aimed at planetary missions by surface robots on very long journeys in unknown environments. ADE was developed on the basis of the technologies of the previous SRC phase and in particular the ERGO autonomy system (European Robotics Goal-Oriented Autonomous Controller), which was developed in the first phase of the SRC program under the direction of GMV.
The robot platform with which the technology developed as part of the project was tested on site was the SherpaTT rover, which was developed and provided by the Robotics Innovation Center of the German Center for Research in Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). SherpaTT is a desert veteran who successfully carried out simulated space missions in the desert of Utah (USA) in 2016 and in Morocco in 2018 as part of the project led by GMV, ERGO.
Preliminary ADE tests were carried out from November 2020 to February 2021 in a 7 x 7 m indoor terrarium in the DFKI facilities in Bremen in order to validate most of the on-board systems: location, perception, guidance, handling of the robot arm in motion, FDIR (Fault detection, isolation and reconfiguration system), dynamic planning and science agent. After the satisfactory results, ADE carried out the final planetary exploration tests in a specially adapted terrain, in which various obstacles and compacted sand were introduced.
The developed robot technology has been put to the test for five weeks. It tests autonomy in navigation using cameras for perception and localization, robotic arm operations for sampling / depositing, and automatic mission planning based on objectives (go to a point, take a sample) move from one point to another for images and the opportunity to do opportunistic science.
The results of the ADE tests were satisfactory. The SherpaTT rover successfully completed a long and fully autonomous journey of almost 500 m in a record time of less than three hours. The system contains all the technological components that were developed in the previous phase of the SRC.
According to Jorge Ocn, head of the on-board autonomy department in GMV’s Space and Robotics division and ADE project manager, these tests were key to validating these robotic applications. They not only set future requirements for the exploration and use of space, but also demonstrate their applicability in other on-site robot scenarios.
The event, which was remotely controlled by GMV and coordinated with the participation of the thirteen partners, was a complete success and was followed by members of the PSA (Program Support Activity) of Horizon 2020, the European Commission and members of the consortium. As the supplier of the robot platform, DFKI was responsible for its commissioning and local control.
The technology developed at ADE was developed to meet the requirements of future space exploration vehicles. Its goal-oriented autonomy system, which is suitable for application to various space robots, also finds terrestrial application in robots that work in harsh environments, i.e. H. Nuclear, Rescue, Oil and Gas Robots, etc.
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