VIPE

Exploration in terrain difficult to access (e.g. Valles Marineris) using visual and proprioceptive data.

The DLR Space Administration started the Initiative "VaMEx - Valles Marineris Explorer" with the aim to explore craters on Mars up to 7 km deep fully autonomous by a heterogeneous swarm of robots. This environment appears due to the earlier volcanic activity as well as the references to water resources extremely promising for a variety of scientific issues. To have a comprehensive picture of Valles Marineris and thus potential niches for extraterrestrial life, areas which are difficult to access have to be included in the exploration in particular. Utilizing a hominid robot platform and novel approaches for fully autonomous positioning, mapping and navigation will help to meet and to deal with the environmental conditions.

Duration: 01.05.2015 till 30.06.2018
Donee: German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence GmbH
Sponsor: Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action
German Aerospace Center e.V.
Grant number: This project is funded by the Space Agency of the German Aerospace Center with federal funds of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWi) in accordance with the parliamentary resolution of the German Parliament, grant no. 50NA1516.
Website: http://www.vamex-vipe.de/
Partner: Technische Universität München (TUM) NavVis GmbH
Application Field: Space Robotics
Related Projects: iStruct
Intelligent Structures for Mobile Robots (05.2010- 08.2013)
iMoby
Intelligent Mobility (04.2009- 06.2012)
Related Software: Bagel
Biologically inspired Graph-Based Language

Project details

Detailed view of the active artificial spine. (Photo: Daniel Kühn, DFKI GmbH)

The Valles Marineris, a jagged rift valley, places high demands on robotic exploration mission. Within the VaMEx 1 project, the swarm of heterogeneous robots (rovers and aerial robots) already allowed a significant application expansion of the exploration mission. Still, caves, steep slopes, and rugged rock formations continue to be a major challenge for the use of mobile robots and for the autonomous navigation. The aim of this project is to fill this gap within the robotic swarm and to increase the navigation abilities. To achieve this efficiently and economically, available expertise and hardware that has been established in previous projects as well as synergies with parallel running projects will be exploited. The hominid robot "Charlie" (developed within the "iStruct" project) will expand the robotic team. This is due to its lightweight and highly integrated design, its agility, and integrated tactile sensors ideally suited to deal with difficult terrain. Furthermore, a novel visual positioning and mapping approach will be developed, featuring a 360° panoramic camera which allows a positioning with very low drift despite the above-mentioned, demanding conditions. This visual positioning is to be supplemented by a complementary proprioceptive approach based on tactile sensors to improve self-localization. This is a prerequisite for movement planning and reactive motion control to allow the robot to overcome obstacles autonomously. By combining the created maps via higher-level network intelligence, a fully autonomous navigation even in difficult terrain will be possible. The technologies to be explored in this project have the potential to be beneficial also for terrestrial applications such as people navigation, service robotics, cave exploration, or search and rescue missions (Fukushima, earthquake zones, etc.). Therefore, however, additional requirements have to be considered. So, a further objective of this project is to explore needed extensions of the developed key technologies to make them usable for terrestrial applications.

Publications

2021

Experience-Based Behavior Adaptation of Kinematically-Complex Robots
Alexander Dettmann
In n.n., Feb/2021. Universität Bremen.

2020

Design and Evaluation of an Active Artificial Spine in a Hominid Robot
Daniel Kuehn, Alexander Dettmann, Frank Kirchner
In International Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics Research, IJMERR, volume 9, pages 387-394, Mar/2020.
Control of Active Multi-Point-Contact Feet for Quadrupedal Locomotion
Alexander Dettmann, Daniel Kuehn, Frank Kirchner
In International Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics Research, IJMERR, volume 9, pages 481-488, Mar/2020.

2019

MARS / EUROPA INPPS Flagship High Power Space Transportation
Frank Jansen, Benedikt Bergmann, Tim Brandt, Friedrich Damme, Emmanouil Detsis, Simona Ferraris, James AP Findlay, Ikkoh Funaki, Oliver Funke, Jan Thimo Grundmann, Lamartine Nogueira Frutuoso Guimaraes, Martin Hillebrandt, Anatoly S. Koroteev, Daniel Kühn, Jim C. Kuijper, Frederic Masson, Volker Maiwald, Jürgen Oberst, Stephane Oriol, Stanislav Pospisil, Martin Richter, Lars Schanz, Alexander V. Semenkin, Alexander E. Solodukhin, Ivan Stekl, Tim Tinsley, Maria Cristina Tosi, Ch. Waldmann, Jean-Claude Worms
In Proceedings of the 70th International Astronautical Congress, (IAC-2019), 21.10.-25.10.2019, Washington, D.C., o.A., Oct/2019.
Virtual Validation and Verification of the VaMEx Initative
Joern Teuber, Rene Weller, Luisa Buinhas, Daniel Kuehn, Philipp Dittmann, Abhishek Srinivas, Frank Kirchner, Roger Foerstner, Oliver Funke, Gabriel Zachmann
In Proceedings of the 16th International Planetary Probe Workshop, (IPPW-2019), 08.7.-12.7.2019, Oxford, o.A., 2019.
VaMEx-VTB – A Modular Virtual Tesbed for Multimodal Autonomous Planetary Missions
Joern Teuber, Rene Weller, Luisa Buinhas, Daniel Kuehn, Philipp Dittmann, Abhishek Srinivas, Frank Kirchner, Roger Foerstner, Oliver Funke, Gabriel Zachmann
In Proceeding of the 70th International Astronautical Congress, (IAC-2019), 21.10.-25.10.2019, Washington DC, DC, o.A., 2019.

2018

Exploration in Inaccessible Terrain Using Visual and Proprioceptive Data
Alexander Dettmann, Daniel Kuehn, Dominik Van Opdenbosch, Tobias Stark, Heiner Peters, Sankaranarayanan Natarajan, Sebastian Kasperski, Arne Böckmann, Adrian Garcea, Eckehard Steinbach, Frank Kirchner
In Proceedings of the 14th International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space, (iSAIRAS-2018), 04.6.-06.6.2018, Madrid, o.A., Jun/2018.
Binary software packaging for the Robot Construction Kit
Thomas M. Roehr, Pierre Willenbrock
In Proceedings of the 14th International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space, (iSAIRAS-2018), 04.6.-06.6.2018, Madrid, ESA, Jun/2018.
Analysis of Using an Active Artificial Spine in a Quadruped Robot
Daniel Kuehn, Alexander Dettmann, Frank Kirchner
In 2018 4th International Conference on Control, Automation and Robotics (ICCAR), (ICCAR-2018), 20.4.-23.4.2018, Auckland, IEEE Xplore online, Apr/2018.
Improved Locomotion Capabilities for Quadrupeds Through Active Multi-Point-Contact Feet
Alexander Dettmann, Daniel Kuehn, Frank Kirchner
In 2018 4th International Conference on Control, Automation and Robotics (ICCAR), (ICCAR-2018), 20.4.-23.4.2018, Auckland, IEEE, Apr/2018.
Modular Payload-Items for Payload-assembly and System Enhancement for Future Planetary Missions
Wiebke Brinkmann, Florian Cordes, Thomas M. Roehr, Leif Christensen, Tobias Stark, Roland Sonsalla, Roman Szczuka, Niklas Alexander Mulsow, Felix Bernhard, Daniel Kuehn
In Proceedings of the 2018 IEEE Aerospace Conference, 03.3.-10.3.2018, Big Sky, Montana, IEEE, Mar/2018.

2016

Multi-Funktionalität am Beispiel des hominiden Roboters Charlie
Daniel Kuehn
In Proceedings of the VDI-Zukunftskonferenz "Humanoide Roboter" 2016, 13.12.-14.12.2016, Munich, o.A., Dec/2016.
Design and development of a hominid robot with local control in its adaptable feet to enhance locomotion capabilities
Daniel Kuehn
pages 223, Robotics Innovation Center Robert-Hooke-Straße 1 28359 Bremen, Germany, Dec/2016. DFKI GmbH RIC.

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