Valles Marineris Explorer 3 - Robust Ground Exploration

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The goal of the VaMEx initiative is to develop an autonomous, heterogeneous robot swarm capable of cooperatively exploring an assigned mission area. Of particular interest is the perspective exploration of the Valles Marineris canyon on Mars. In this area, conditions for extraterrestrial life are favored by elevated atmospheric pressure. Therefore, this area on Mars will be explored by an autonomous robotic swarm in the future.

A central element of the robotic swarm consists of ground-based rovers and a walking robot Crex. These units and their algorithms are developed within the VaMEx3 Robust Ground Exploration (VaMEx3-RGE) project. Our Cognitive Neuroinformatics group is responsible for implementing a comprehensive solution for multi-robot navigation. One focus is on the adaptation and extension of the system and approaches developed in VaMEx-CoSMIC (DLR-KN), VaMEx-VIPE (DFK-RIC) and Kanaria-K2I (University of Bremen) as well as their integration into the overall VaMEx3 system. On the algorithmic side, this concerns autonomous navigation methods that enable the cooperative behavior of multiple heterogeneous entities. This includes approaches from the areas of autonomous navigation, multi-robot multi-sensor data fusion, and distributed and cooperative high-level planning. Furthermore, a new system for simultaneous position determination and map generation in combination with vectorial velocity estimation based on millimeter-wave radar sensors will be explored and integrated into the overall system.

In summary, VaMEx3-RGE enables ground-based swarm elements to move to areas of the exploration area and perform various tasks at the target location. Autonomous exploration of a test area in Germany is performed at the end of VaMEx3-RGE using heterogeneous drones and rovers.

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