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Testing Remote Control of Teleoperated Rovers using Telerobotic Simulation System (TSS) in a Realistic Lunar Analog

Benjamin Mellinkoff
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Abstract Text: 

In order to test the feasibility of teleoperating rovers on the lunar surface from the Orion crew vehicle located at, for example, the Earth-Moon L2 Lagrange point, we developed a Telerobotic Simulation System (TSS). This TSS is capable of varying the connection conditions between a station and a remote rover in order to test the limits of the rover’s operability under these conditions. Building off of results from previous research, we then designed an experiment to observe the effects of variable network conditions on an operator’s ability to create a “mental map” of the environment surrounding the rover. The testing environment is an outdoor location on the University of Colorado Boulder campus that is somewhat analogous to a lunar crater. This location was chosen because the terrain is variable across the “crater”, allowing for steep inclines, rocky passes, and straight passes. This “crater” was then segmented into several different zones, so that “astronaut” operators could focus on a smaller area of the entire environment, similar to how an exploratory rover would be operated on the lunar surface. We then used several operators on a variety of the zones established in the “crater” to test how variable network conditions and operational factors affect the operator’s ability to create a mental map of the environment. Funding support for this research was provided by the Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company.

J. Heldmann (ARC)
SSERVI Identifier: 

Recognizing that science and human exploration are mutually enabling, NASA created the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) to address basic and applied scientific questions fundamental to understanding the Moon, Near Earth Asteroids, the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos, and the near space environments of these target bodies. As a virtual institute, SSERVI funds investigators at a broad range of domestic institutions, bringing them together along with international partners via virtual technology to enable new scientific efforts."