Forward Acquisition of Soil and Terrain data for Exploration Rover

FASTER Mother Rover (Source: ASTRIUM Ltd.)
FASTER Mother Rover (Source: ASTRIUM Ltd.)
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In FASTER, a European consortium of six partners from four member states develops concepts and a demonstrator for an efficient in-situ acquisition of soil and terrain properties of the planned trajectory of a planetary exploration rover. This information will allow computing more reliable and exact traffic ability estimations. It will help to make a planetary rover move faster and with less risk of being stuck in unexpected obstacles (like regions of soft sand). The main technical components of the FASTER system will be a light-weight portable soil sensor and a small all-terrain scout rover.

Duration: 01.11.2011 till 30.11.2014
Donee: German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence GmbH
Sponsor: European Union
Grant number: funded by the European Union FP7-SPACE SPA.2011.2.1-02 GA284419
Partner: University of Surrey (UK), Airbus DS (UK), Space Application Services (BE), Liquifer Systems Group (AU), Astri Polska (PL)
Application Field: Space Robotics
Related Robots: Coyote II
High Mobile Micro Rover
Related Software: MARS
Machina Arte Robotum Simulans

Project details

FASTER primary rover (BRIDGET) and scout rover (Coyote II). (Photo: Roland Sonsalla, DFKI GmbH)
FASTER scout rover Coyote II equipped with full sensor suite, including its soil sensor system payload developed by University of Surrey. (Photo: Roland Sonsalla, DFKI GmbH)
CAD drawing of Coyote II with rover subsystems. (Photo: Roland Sonsalla, DFKI GmbH)

The goal of the FASTER project is to address three key technology developments for planetary exploration: forward looking surface properties characterization, innovative locomotion system for a scout type rover, and collaborative operation of a mother/scout pair.

1. The project will develop methods and instrumentation to characterize the properties of planetary surfaces in which robotic rover vehicles operate to be able to anticipate hazards in advance of locomotion and navigation over that surface. By assessing the soil traffic ability for a rover, decisions affecting rover safety (avoiding becoming stuck) can be reliably taken and hazards avoided.

2. The project will look at what innovation can be applied to ensure that the scout rover is able to operate with minimal risk of encountering hazardous situations from which it must recover.

3. FASTER will explore the feasibility and performance of a mother/scout rover pair combination and develop methods to achieve successful collaborative and autonomous robot operation. The forward looking scout rover will be equipped with a special combination of sensor technologies to acquire soil and terrain information. This information will allow a risk model to be constructed that indicates the potential hazards that the terrain represents to the following mother rover.

Reducing the locomotion and traverse risks using the proposed advances in autonomous mother / scout collaboration will allow mission operators to explore planetary surfaces with increased safety.

It will make possible new levels of autonomous operations by significantly reducing the greatest uncertainty factor – namely properties of the surface material on which the rover must operate. This will lead to increased operational efficiency and, when coupled with the increased richness of the surface properties data, will lead to much higher scientific returns per capital investment for each mission.

The single system development as well as the scientific context
of FASTER is presented within a project documentary.

For further information please visit the projects webpage:


FASTER: Erkunde den Weltraum schneller und sicherer

Der im Projekt FASTER entwickelte Rover ist ein Demonstrator zur effizienten in-situ Messung der Boden- und Geländeeigenschaften von geplanten Fahrstrecken eines planetaren Erkundungsfahrzeugs.





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