Hardware

CoRob-X builds on robotic hardware provided by the project consortium and the software building blocks developed within the framework of the SRC Space Robotics Technologies.

In a first iteration the functional requirements on the ADRES and the REUs, based on the selected mission scenarios, were mapped to technical requirements of concrete robotic hardware and software.

Lunar Analogue Mission:

For the lunar analogue mission, three Robotic Explorer Units (REUs) able to cooperate as a heterogeneous team of mobile exploration robots are foreseen. With respect to the robotic hardware subsystems, CoRob-X builds on the modification and adaptation of robots that have proven their value in previous projects and can be made available by our partner DFKI and SPACE. This allows us to implement a highly efficient and innovative ADRES / robot team within the budget and time constraints of the project.

REU-1 – The SherpaTT “Space-Mule”:

This large, four wheeled, massive (150 kg) rover is able to transport heavy payloads and even small rovers over long distances. The SherpaTT robot arm can handle weights of up to 25 kg. In CoRob-X, it will use the arm to connect with REU-2 and to guide REU-2 down the Skylight (MP3).

SherpaTT’s excellent locomotion capabilities were proven in field tests in Utah, USA, and Morocco. With an active suspension system for each wheel, the rover can traverse flat plains as well as sloped and rocky terrain.

It is able to adapt its locomotion behavior (e.g. from “wheeled” locomotion to “walking” locomotion) on the fly based on terrain conditions. This ability will be refined and improved in the project. SherpaTT is available from DFKI as a research prototype (TRL 5). It is planned to improve the locomotion behaviour of SherpaTT in WP5.9.1.

This includes the implementation/improvement of the walking locomotion behavior of SherpaTT.

REU-2- The Coyote III Scout Rover

is a small (30×50 cm), light (< 10 kg) and fast scout rover. It features four hybrid legged-wheels that consist of five fixed spikes, or “legs”. Using these “legs”, the Coyote III is able to climb over boulders and cliffs that are taller than itself. Coyote III is also able to handle slopes of more than 30 degrees. In field tests in Utah (USA) it has proven its capability to descend and ascend a steep cliff rappelled by a human crew member.

A star-wheeled rover similar to the proposed REU-2 rover was already successfully used within another research project to autonomously explore and map a confined lava tube on Tenerife, Spain. In this field test it has proven it’s ability to overcome slopes and cluttered terrain full of stones and sharp rocks. Please note that temperature and radiation, which are part of the harsh environment on the moon, are not considered within this project and analogue mission.

In this field test it has proven it’s ability to overcome slopes and cluttered terrain full of stones and sharp rocks. Please note that temperature and radiation, which are part of the harsh environment on the moon, are not considered within this project and analogue mission.

In CoRob-X, Coyote III will be equipped with a tether management system so that REU-1 can become Coyote’s team partner in MP3.

Although very light, Coyote can hold significant science payloads (> 10 kg). In CoRob-X it will be equipped with a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), a TOF camera, and an RGB camera to explore the cliffs of a skylight and the inner parts of a lava tube. Like SherpaTT, Coyote III is available from DFKI as a research prototype (TRL 5).

Enhancements for REU1 and REU2

In summary, SherpaTT and Coyote III will be significantly enhanced to enable the CoRob-X analogue mission. In this respect, a major enhancement for both systems is the implementation of additional functionality needed to support the rappelling of REU-2 into the lava tube.

For SherpaTT (REU1), this includes among others:
  • Implementation of an adequate docking and anchoring point for the tether.
  • Enhancement of critical mechanical sub-systems with respect to increased payload requirements (e.g. reinforced leg structure).
  • Implementation of additional locomotion modes, like walking.
For Coyote III (REU2), the enhancements include:
  • Implementation of tether management and docking system.
  • Integration of the GPR sensor.
  • Enhancement of the locomotion subsystem to handle vertical movements and exploration of the lava tube.
  • Enhancement of critical mechanical sub-systems with respect to operational requirements (e.g. reinforced wheels).
REU-3 The LUnar Volatiles Mobile Instrumentation (LUVMI-X) rover

The LUVMI-X rover is the third robotic exploration rover in the CoRob-X robot team. The medium-sized wheeled rover was designed to traverse the lunar surface prospecting for volatiles, sampling the subsurface, extracting water and other loosely bound volatiles, and performing other science exploration tasks. To achieve these objectives, it is equipped with four-wheels and an active suspension system, energy sub-system and motors that enable long-distance traverses (up to 6 km) and to overcome moderate slopes (20 to 25 deg). LUVMI-X is largely based on LUVMI but includes a number of improvements in the design, leveraging lessons learnt with LUVMI.

In CoRob-X, it will be equipped with a LIDAR to be able to generate point clouds in support of the 3-D mapping and multi-modal multi-REU sensor fusion for scientific exploration in MP1. In addition, it will hold a mechanism to deploy a Payload Cube via a payload ejection mechanism.

The LUVMI-X platform will be contributed in kind by SPACE. It is being developed as part of the H2020 LUVMI-X project where it will be validated in a series of campaigns in Q1/Q2 2021. It will be made available for CoRob-X in Q3 2021, for the rest of the project duration.

REU4- The Foxizirc Rover

The Foxizirc Rover (REU-4) was developed by GMV. It contains two onboard i7 boards able to provide the required computing power. It can be connected with a ground-station via Wifi connection. It contains a Hokuyo laser 2D LIDAR, and a Lord MicroStrain IMU.

In the frame of ADE (OG10) it is being equipped with an UltraScale Platform that will handle the SW for the Sensors (OG4) and is using Basler cameras (same cameras planned to be used in this project).

REU5- The Alpha Drone

The Alpha Drone (REU-5) is an off-the-shelf system that will be purchased by GMV. It is a hexacopter with an approximate payload of 2.5 kg and retractable landing gear.

In our current configuration, it will be equipped with a Velodyne VLP-16 LIDAR and the same IMU as the rover.