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Building a Lunar Infrastructure with the Help of a Heterogeneous (Semi)Autonomous Multi-Robot-Team

Shashank Govindaraj; Wiebke Brinkmann; Francisco Javier Colmenero; Irene Sanz Nieto; Alexandru But; Matteo De Benedetti; Leon Cedric Danter; Mercedes Alonso; Enrique Heredia; Simon Lacroix; Dominik Kleszczynski; Joseph Purnell; Kevin Picton; Nabil Aouf; Luis Lopes
In: In Proc. of. 72nd International Astronautical Congress 2021, (IAC-2021). International Astronautical Congress (IAC-2021), October 25-29, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, n.n. 10/2021.


Exploring planets requires cooperative robotics technologies that make it possible to act independently of human influence. So-called multi-robot teams, consisting of different and synchronized robots, can solve problems that cannot be handled by a single robot. The PRO-ACT (Planetary RObots deployed for Assembly and Construction Tasks) project aimed to develop and demonstrate key technologies for robot collaboration in the construction of future ISRU (In-Situ Resource Utilization) facilities on the Moon. To this end, the following robots were used: Veles - a rover with six wheels and a 7-DoF (Degree of Freedom) arm, Mantis - a six-legged walking system, and a mobile gantry that can be used for payload manipulation or 3D printing. The project further developed existing software and hardware developed in previous space robotics projects and integrated them into the robotic systems involved. The software enables collaborative tasks such as transportation, mapping and navigation. Due to the Covid-19 situation, the final demonstration was performed remotely for defined mission scenarios. The intensive remote test campaigns provided valuable lessons learned that are directly applicable to future space missions. In addition, PRO-ACT opens a new way for multi-robot collaboration. The paper describes the developed robotic software and hardware as well as the final mission scenarios performed in lunar analogues with Mantis tested in the test field with granules in the DFKI Space Hall in Bremen, Germany, with Veles tested in Warsaw, Poland and with the mobile gantry tested in Elgoibar, Spain. In addition one mission scenario, manipulation tasks with two robotic systems, was performed with two Panda robotic arms in Toulouse, France. The paper concludes with the results of the final demonstration of the multi-robotics team.