Husky UGV Used For 3D Mapping In Mars Simulation

Graz University of Technology

Graz University, in partnership with the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF) and international research organisations including the Oman Astronomical Society, conducted a four-week Mars simulation mission in the Arabian desert in Oman. The study was about the execution of a typical day on Mars, and simulated autonomous, 3D spatial exploration. Tasks performed in the study included 3D mapping, mineralogy, evaluation of biological habitats, and preparation of food. Oman was chosen due to its geographical similarity to Mars.

Husky UGV was used for 3D mapping of the Oman terrain and transportation in the simulated mission. Once environments were mapped, Husky was able to identify potential hazards, move around and collect data for the astronauts. Husky was specifically chosen due to the team’s previous experience with the robot, and because it is a rover and could therefore overcome challenges customary of an environment like Mars or the Oman desert. The team used tracks on Husky, as opposed to tires, because it performed better on the terrain.

Installing software onto the robot was “very easy”. Husky has an integrated IMU, 2D laser scanner, computer, and GPS. For terrain mapping, the team turned to a 2D 260 degree SICK laser scanner. For 3D Mapping, the team developed their own software to function along with ROS. Mechanically, the team said the integration process was also easy. Likewise, the team purchased the robot through Generation Robotics in France, one of Clearpath Robotics’ reseller partners, who facilitated support and guidance throughout the project.

Ultimately, autonomous exploration in the experiment was a success. The next steps for the team are to summarize the results, complete a journal for the project that assesses the experiment’s challenges and successes, and prepare for another potential mission in 2020, likely somewhere in the Middle East.

 

“Installing Software onto the robot was very easy.”

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