Mars exploration trial on Tenerife Published on: 19/09/2012
ProViScout,a collaborative EU project funded under the 7th Framework Programme, brings together major European groups to work on planetary and space exploration with no human intervention
A robot called Idris was taken to the Canaries by the Aberystwyth University’s Department of Computer Science (UK).
The Planetary Robotics Vision Scout (PRoViScout) project has being undertaking field trials at the "El Teide" National Park in Tenerife between 13th and 17th September 2012.
ProViScout,a collaborative EU project funded under the 7th Framework Programme, brings together major European groups currently working on robotic vision for planetary and space exploration.
The PRoViScout project aims to demonstrate computer vision based techniques for identifying navigation hazards in the terrain, spotting likely science targets, and selecting the “most interesting” targets for further study - all with no human intervention. These are abilities which will be crucial to future long-range scouting and exploration missions on other planets.
Being a Martian-like landscape, "El Teide" National Park is favoured as a field test venue, having good weather and a rich tapestry of image textures and features. These characteristics are important in providing a wide range of conditions under which to test the imaging systems. Its flat landscape with fine textures of volcanic sand, pebbles and occasional rocky outcrops are similar to those encountered on the surface of Mars. Most robotic planetary space missions performing in situ exploration of the surface and atmosphere for any planetary object outside the Earth involve a means of mobility provided by either a surface vehicle (rover) or by aerial vehicles (e.g. balloons).
Mobile systems are among the most critical of all space missions in requiring a rapid and robust on-site processing and preparation of scientific data to allow efficient operations for a maximum use of their limited lifetime.
Professor Dave Barnes, of the Space and Planetary Robotics Group at the University’s Department of Computer Science said: “Last year there was a Tenerife field test as part of the PRoViSG project, using the Astrium Bridget rover developed by EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space). “This time, it will be an Aberystwyth rover that will identify science targets and navigate to these targets using new sophisticated software developed during the PRoViScout project.”
As space missions are increasing, more ambitious and of longer duration, they will need to be more self-reliant than current ones. They will need to make some of their own decisions about navigation, selecting important science samples and possibly even collecting them for return to Earth. ProViScout will provide the robotic vision building blocks for such future autonomous exploration systems.
Idris left Aberystwyth on 5th September and was driven and ferried to Tenerife on September 9th, ready for the trials on the 13th.
Field test (miniposter) can be found in the Documents section below.
Participating Institutions can be found via the PRoViScout project website: http://proviscout.eu/
Link to Log Book (screenshots taken of the real time video): http://www.proviscout.eu/index.php/events/tenerife-2012/63-log-book-monday-2012-09-17
Follow the progress of Idris and its transporter on its journey to Tenerife: http://users.aber.ac.uk/cos/gps/tenerife_trip.php
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