Project PROFILER develops the technology to enable scientifically informed autonomous exploration of remote planets using a heterogenous team of robots. We enable scientist to define mission scenarios and to direct a fleet of collaborative robots to interesting and previously inaccessible areas. Besides established robot systems that offer access to flat terrain, a new generation of highly-mobile legged robots will be able to climb down steep crater walls or enter tight caves or lava tubes to actively collect data for the scientist. Thereby, onboard evaluation and interpretation of the instrument payload is used for informed navigation of the robots. With this setup, the solution can maximally utilize the available operation time and supply the scientist with an unprecedented volume and quality of data at potentially unexplored areas of remote planets.
The consortium consists of experienced groups from research and industry with a long tradition in developing the most advanced robots and instruments for planetary research.
ETH Zurich’s ANYmal, developed by the Robotic Systems Lab, has been successfully used in previous Space Exploration studies. Namely, the payload equipped robot was used in ESA’s Space Resource Challenge and is continued to be updated for future missions.
The German Aerospace Center’s Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics has a strong heritage in developing heterogenous robotic teams for the exploration of highly unstructured terrain, such as to be found on earth and other planets. The following video summarizes the approach taken in the past plus field validation on Mt. Etna.
Terrain visualization and data interpretation is key for making informed decision by the team and mission success. Work by Joanneum Research plays a key role in providing the information from the robots to the operators.