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Rover SherpaTT Coyote III Simulate Mars Mission

Soon the Rover SherpaTT Coyote III will have to Exchange and their home in Bremen with the barren desert of the U.S. State of Utah. Their mission: to simulate missions on Mars. That should also help autonomously working robots on Earth in areas contaminated after industrial accidents, for example to allow.

Welcome to earthly Mars: from 24 October to 18 November 2016 test Bremen scientists from the Robotics Innovation Center at the German Research Centre for artificial intelligence (DFKI) the collaboration of various robotic systems in the semi-desert of the U.S. State of Utah.

DFKI Bremen

The barren Rocky area is particularly suited for simulated Mars missions, because where there is extreme steppe climate. There is usually hot summer 30°C and often cold winter with icy temperatures. For five years, the Mars Society in southern of Utah near the town of Hanksville operates the Mars Desert Research Station. In this research station with space-Habitat regularly Manned Mars stays are simulated.

Results are transmitted on terrestrial applications

Now, it should be the robot SherpaTT and Coyote III, who hang around to the simulated Mars. In the field test in Utah, sponsored by the German Centre for aviation and Astronautics (DLR), the researchers of the DFKI first test the Mars mission operations in a realistic environment. The results incorporated into the project TransTerrA which developed systems for space missions are transferred earthly applications. The basic idea behind it: A robot that comes your way on Mars, is suitable for use in hostile environments on Earth, for missions in the high seas or in areas contaminated after industrial accidents.

Establish logistic chain

The test focuses on the simulation of a so-called sample return mission. While soil samples of the simulated Mars surface for analysis on earth should be brought back. The task of the two mobile robots will be to build a logistical chain. For a base station that is used to recharge their batteries and also the data transfer, and additional payload modules available to guests.

DFKI
The mobile systems involved in the scenario of space SherpaTT (front), Coyote III (located in the back of the crater) and the base station with the payload module, Photo: DFKI

SherpaTT is a stork and Fahrrover, which effortlessly overcomes even the most difficult terrain thanks to its active suspension. He is also a kind of beast of burden, because he can transport larger payloads such as additional sensors, batteries and tools on his reconnaissance lap. With its robotic arm, SherpaTT can take also the soil samples, which should later be brought back to Earth. SherpaTT is an artist of the versatility: the Rover is equipped with multiple electro mechanical interfaces, by means of which he can adapt to the various mission scenarios.

Coyote III: Wieselflink and small

Sparring partner for SherpaTT is the small micro-Rover Coyote III, which can move as with his star wheel construction in difficult terrain. Also the Coyote III is equipped with sensors for autonomous exploration of the environment and with additional interfaces, which allow for example the docking of manipulators and other payload modules.

Coyote III will assume the role of a shuttle during the field test campaign in Utah, which collect the soil samples taken and transported to the country station.

Operator inside the torso exoskeleton

SherpaTT and Coyote III are not completely autonomous however during their simulated Mars: phased approach is controlling the course of the mission remotely from Bremen via satellite link via a robotics Innovation Center established control station. A human operator for it inside a portable torso exoskeleton and drives the two Rover so that runs the Mars mission, not out of control.