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Autonomous vision-based tethered-assisted rover docking

Tsai, Dorian and Nesnas, Issa A. D. and Zarzhitsky, Dimitri (2013) Autonomous vision-based tethered-assisted rover docking. In: 2013 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems. IEEE , Piscataway, NJ, pp. 2834-2841. ISBN 978-1-4673-6358-7.

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Many intriguing science discoveries on planetary surfaces, such as the seasonal flows on crater walls and skylight entrances to lava tubes, are at sites that are currently inaccessible to state-of-the-art rovers. The in situ exploration of such sites is likely to require a tethered platform both for mechanical support and for providing power and communication. Mother/daughter architectures have been investigated where a mother deploys a tethered daughter into extreme terrains. Deploying and retracting a tethered daughter requires undocking and re-docking of the daughter to the mother, with the latter being the challenging part. In this paper, we describe a vision-based tether-assisted algorithm for the autonomous re-docking of a daughter to its mother following an extreme terrain excursion. The algorithm uses fiducials mounted on the mother to improve the reliability and accuracy of estimating the pose of the mother relative to the daughter. The tether that is anchored by the mother helps the docking process and increases the system's tolerance to pose uncertainties by mechanically aligning the mating parts in the final docking phase. A preliminary version of the algorithm was developed and field-tested on the Axel rover in the JPL Mars Yard. The algorithm achieved an 80% success rate in 40 experiments in both firm and loose soils and starting from up to 6 m away at up to 40° radial angle and 20° relative heading. The algorithm does not rely on an initial estimate of the relative pose. The preliminary results are promising and help retire the risk associated with the autonomous docking process enabling consideration in future martian and lunar missions.

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Additional Information:© 2013 IEEE. This work was performed at JPL under contract to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. We grateful for the sponsorship of JPL’s Research and Technology Development Program, the Keck Institute of Space Studies, and the Erasmus Mundus Foundation. We would also like to thank Prof. Joel Burdick of the California Institute of Technology and Adnan Ansar of JPL, for their advice and support.
Group:Keck Institute for Space Studies
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JPL Research and Technology Development FundUNSPECIFIED
Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS)UNSPECIFIED
Erasmus Mundus FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20160301-164226554
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:64939
Deposited By: Colette Connor
Deposited On:02 Mar 2016 00:54
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 23:37

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