Moonwalk

Technologies and Human-Robot Collaboration for Surface EVA Exploration Activities and Training in European Analogue Environments

Astronaut and rover during the earth analogue simulations in Spain (Photo: Bruno Stubenrauch, Moonwalk Consortium)
Astronaut and rover during the earth analogue simulations in Spain (Photo: Bruno Stubenrauch, Moonwalk Consortium)

The objective of this project is the development and test of future technologies for missions to the Moon or Mars. MOONWALK will focus on the support for Astronauts by robots during activities related to the exploration of planetary surfaces (Mars, Moon). The control of robots in space is non-trivial because astronauts are limited in their movements by a bulky spacesuit and the missing or reduced gravity. Moonwalk develops new, practical methods for the interaction between astronauts and robots. These methods will be tested in earth-analogue missions that simulate low gravitiy (underwater mission in Marseille, France) and harsh environmental conditions (desert landscape in Rio Tinto, Spain).

Duration: 01.09.2013 till 31.08.2016
Donee: DFKI GmbH
Sponsor: European Union
Grant number: The project MOONWALK is financed by the EC Program SPA.2013.2.1-02 under the contract number 607346.
Partner: COMEX, EADS, LIQUIFER Systems Group (LSG), Space Application Services (SAS), NTNU Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Space, Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA)
Team: Team VIII - Knowledge-based long-term Autonomy
Application Field: Space Robotics
Underwater Robotics
Related Robots: YEMO 1.1
Semi Autonomous Micro Rover for Underwater Applications
Related Software: Rock
Robot Construction Kit

Project details

Photo series 1 shows how underwater simulations of space missions could look like in MOONWALK. Shown is the training of an EVA to the surface of an asteroid where the astronaut has to leave the spacecraft to perform sampling activities on the surface in microgravity. The tests were performed at the Marseille subsea analogue site in November 2012. (Photo: COMEX)
Photo series 2 shows a simulation scenario how it is planned in MOONWALK. An astronaut is training sampling of soil and the erection of an flag in simulated lunar gravity under water. This simulation, called APOLLO XI UNDER THE SEA took place in Marseille in September 2013. (Photo: COMEX)

In earth-analogue simulations of missions to Moon and Mars, one of the challenges is the simulation of operational constraints such as the reduced gravity or the communication delay between the astronauts and mission control on Earth.

Two analogue simulations are planned in MOONWALK to simulate some of the conditions that astronauts will encounter during future extravehicular activities (EVA) on planetary surfaces: The project will conduct simulations offshore the coast of the French city of Marseille, where an EVA on the lunar surface under reduced gravity will be performed. A second simulation will be conducted in the Spanish desert region of Rio Tinto, where operations are focusing on exobiological sampling and sampling procedures under extreme environmental conditions.

In both trials, the astronaut will wear a simulation spacesuit that recreates the properties of a real pressurized spacesuit. The focus of the trials will be on the testing of communication and cooperation between an astronaut and a robotic helper.

Seven partner organizations will bring in their expertise: The DFKI Robotics Innovation Center in Bremen (Project Coordinator), COMEX in France (technical coordination), EADS in Great Britain, LIQUIFER Systems Group in Austria, Space Application Services in Belgium, NTNU Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Space in Norway and the Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA) in Spain.

The US space agency NASA is an associate partner in the project.

Videos

MOONWALK: YEMO 1.1 bei einer realitätsnahen Mission

Das Projekt MOONWALK endete mit zwei realitätsnahen Missionen: Eine in einem Wüsteszenario in Spanien und die andere ein Unterwasser-Offshore-Szenario vor der Küste von Marseille. Das Video zeigt die amphibische Rover Yemo 1.1 in Aktion während der Versuche, einschließlich der neuartigen Schnittstelle für Gestensteuerung. Dies ermöglicht es den Astronauten der Rover mit den Bewegungen seines Armes zu steuern.

 

MOONWALK: Erste Unterwassertest mit YEMO 1.0

Erste Funktionstests des neuen amphibischen Rover Yemo im Mittelmeer in der Nähe der Insel Vulcano Island im Juni 2015. Das Video zeigt die Unterwassermobilität des Rovers und die Vorteile eines 360-Grad-Panorama-Kamera.

Picture gallery

Control of the rover through gestures during an simulated EVA (Photo: Bruno Stubenrauch, Moonwalk Consortium)
Control of the rover through gestures during an simulated EVA (Photo: Bruno Stubenrauch, Moonwalk Consortium)
Control of the rover though gestures during an underwater simulation (Photo: Comex, Moonwalk Consortium)
Control of the rover though gestures during an underwater simulation (Photo: Comex, Moonwalk Consortium)
The rover YEMO during an underwater simulation with mounted payload box and tolls for the astronaut (Photo: Comex, Moonwallk Consortium)
The rover YEMO during an underwater simulation with mounted payload box and tolls for the astronaut (Photo: Comex, Moonwalk Consortium)
Engineering trials of the full system during the preparations of the underwater earth-analogue simulations (Comex, Moonwallk Consortium)
Engineering trials of the full system during the preparations of the underwater earth-analogue simulations (Comex, Moonwalk Consortium)
The amphibious rover YEMO especially developed as the partner for the astronaut during the earth analogue simulations of MOONWALK (Photo: Bruno Stubenrauch, Moonwalk Consortium)
The amphibious rover YEMO especially developed as the partner for the astronaut during the earth analogue simulations of MOONWALK (Photo: Bruno Stubenrauch, Moonwalk Consortium)
The astronaut loads taken samples into the payload box of the rover (Photo: Bruno Stubenrauch, Moonwalk Consortium)
The astronaut loads taken samples into the payload box of the rover (Photo: Bruno Stubenrauch, Moonwalk Consortium)
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