Competition selects best robots for the moon
05.05.2023 - In an ESA competition, robot prototypes from industrial companies and research institutions compete against each other
They should collect and evaluate resources, carry out measurements and create maps in a lunar-like terrain. The winning team from the FZI Research Center for Information Technology uses the O3R platform from ifm in its three robots.
The exploration of the moon as a potential habitat is at the heart of the Space Resources Challenge, organized by ESA in cooperation with the European Space Resources Innovation Center (ESRIC). Industrial companies and research institutions are to develop innovative, technical methods for exploring resources on the moon as part of the challenge. In a 2,500 square meter hall with a lunar-like terrain, different robot prototypes could compete against each other.
One of the international teams that qualified for the final of the challenge comes from the FZI Research Center for Information Technology. And there the ARISE consortium, which, in addition to the FZI Research Center for Information Technology, also included partners from the ETH Zurich and the Universities of Zurich, Basel and Bern, prevailed against three other finalists.
One of the most important components with which the mobile robots can orient themselves is an O3R system from ifm. The central component of this hardware platform is an edge device to which up to six 3D cameras and numerous other sensors can be connected. A powerful Linux system equipped with an NVIDIA video processing unit forms the hardware basis. The robot is connected to the PC via EtherCAT. With the available ROS 2 drivers, the system can be easily integrated into the respective robotics applications. ifm offers suitable camera heads that contain 3D sensors or a combination of 3D and 2D sensors with different aperture angles and resolutions. Based on this information, the mobile robot is able to orientate itself in an unfamiliar environment and complete its mission, for example collecting rock samples.