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Internal Simulation for Autonomous Robot Exploration of Lava Tubes

Raúl Domínguez; Sascha Arnold; Christoph Hertzberg; Arne Böckmann
In: Automation and Robotics Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Informatics in Control (Hrsg.). ICINCO 2018. International Conference on Informatics in Control, Automation and Robotics (ICINCO-2018), 15th, July 29-31, Porto, Portugal, Pages 144-155, Vol. 2, ISBN 978-989-758-321-6, SCITEPRESS, 7/2018.


Space Exploration stands as one of the most challenging endeavors of our time. Extraterrestrial caves in particular have been identified by the scientific community as of great interest. They could be suitable for allocating astronaut planetary stations, but little is known about them. In this paper, we describe and analyze robotic cave exploration using internal simulation and SLAM technologies and provide experimental results. The experiments were performed in a lava tube selected due to its representativeness as space analog. Expensive mission costs, communication constraints and navigational challenges in space missions demand highly developed degrees of autonomy and safety on the robots. For this reason, our solution incorporates methods for the validation of paths based on on-board, internal simulation. The methods provide the means to increase the confidence of successful executions by simulating using physics models the planned path. A highly realistic model of the robot and a n on-line generated model of the environment are required. Assuming the demands of the space robotics scenario, all software runs on-board.


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