Valles Marineris Explorer – Absolute and Fail-Safe Position and Orientation Estimation

Project details

Artemis has a passive suspension system that provides excellent mobility in unstructured terrain. It will be extended by a deployment mechanism for radio beacons to be able to build up a local navigation system in field. (Photo: DFKI GmbH)

The goal of the VaMEx initiative is the development of an autonomous, heterogeneous robot swarm for the exploration of the Valles Marineris on Mars. Driving, walking, and flying systems will use their advantages to cooperatively explore a large area with different environmental characteristics.

The VaMEx-APO project is part of the VaMEx 3 initiative, which aims to develop and demonstrate several key technologies for future exploration on Mars. The core of the VaMEx-APO project is the development of a highly accurate and robust absolute position and orientation estimation system. A high degree of fail-safety is crucial for space missions, where repairs, remote access, and software updates are no longer possible. Achieving the goals of high accuracy and robustness simultaneously is very challenging, since high accuracy can only be achieved with complex algorithms that model or estimate all error sources and their statistics, and thus itself becomes more error-prone than simple algorithms that neglect minor errors. An accurate and fail-safe positioning system is a key component for a future Mars mission. However, there are also numerous terrestrial applications for a precise and at the same time fail-safe positioning system - one example is autonomous driving of robots and vehicles, where functional safety is of high importance in addition to accuracy.

The fusion of camera-based and LIDAR-based SLAM is a core task of the project to increase the navigation accuracy and robustness. Furthermore, a local position measurement system will be built and used for localization. In order to deploy the required radio beacons at specific locations in the field, the rover Artemis will be extended with a specific drop mechanism.



Development strategies for multi-robot teams in context of planetary exploration
Wiebke Brinkmann, Leon Cedric Danter, Amrita Suresh, Mehmed Yüksel, Manuel Meder, Frank Kirchner
In 2024 International Conference on Space Robotics, (iSpaRo-2024), 24.6.-27.6.2024, Luxembourg, o. A., Jun/2024.


Leon Cedric Danter, Joachim Clemens, Andreas Serov, Anne Schattel, Michael Schleiss, Cedric Liman, Mario Gäbel, Andre Mühlenbrock, Gabriel Zachmann
In ASTRA Proceedings, (ASTRA-2023), 18.10.-20.10.2023, Leiden, European Space Agency (ESA), Postbus 299 2200 AG Noordwijk (The Netherlands), 2023. European Space Agency (ESA).

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last updated 04.01.2024