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Thursday, October 10 • 16:20 - 16:40
Planetary Exploration with Robot Teams

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Planetary exploration with robot teams
Since the beginning of space exploration, Mars and the Moon have been explored with orbiters, landers, and rovers. Over forty missions have targeted Mars, and more than a hundred, the Moon. Developing novel strategies and technologies for exploring celestial bodies continues to be a focus of space agencies. Multi-robot systems are particularly promising for planetary exploration, as they are more robust to individual failure and have the potential to explore larger areas; however, there are limits to how many robots an operator can individually control. We recently took part in the European Space Agency’s interdisciplinary equipment test campaign (PANGAEA-X) at a Lunar/Mars analog site in Lanzarote, Spain. 
We used a heterogeneous fleet of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)—a swarm—to study the interplay of systems operations and human factors. Human operators directed the swarm via ad-hoc networks and data sharing protocols to explore unknown areas under two control modalities: one in which the operator instructed each robot separately; and the other in which the operator provided general guidance to the swarm, which self-organized via a combination of distributed decision-making, and consensus-building.

For each condition, we assessed cognitive load via pupillometry and perceived task demand and intuitiveness via self-report. Our results show that implementing higher autonomy with swarm intelligence can reduce workload, freeing the operator for other tasks such as overseeing strategy, and communication. Future work will further leverage advances in swarm intelligence for exploration missions.

avatar for Marcel Kaufmann

Marcel Kaufmann

PhD Candidate, Polytechnique Montreal, MIST Lab
Marcel is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Engineering with the "Making Innovative Space Technologies” Laboratory at Polytechnique Montreal. He is focusing on multi-robot systems, swarm technologies and human-robot interaction. He holds a B.Sc. and an M.Sc. degree in Photonics... Read More →

Thursday October 10, 2019 16:20 - 16:40 EDT
Room CR1 ICAO - 999 Boulevard Robert-Bourassa, Montréal, QC H3C 5H10