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Biomimetic optic flow sensing applied to a lunar landing scenario

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4 Author(s)
Valette, F. ; Biorobotics Dept., Univ. of the Mediterranean, Marseille, France ; Ruffier, F. ; Viollet, S. ; Seidl, T.

Autonomous landing on unknown extraterrestrial bodies requires fast, noise-resistant motion processing to elicit appropriate steering commands. Flying insects excellently master visual motion sensing techniques to cope with highly parallel data at a low energy cost, using dedicated motion processing circuits. Results obtained in neurophysiological, behavioural, and biorobotic studies on insect flight control were used to safely land a spacecraft on the Moon in a simulated environment. ESA's Advanced Concepts Team has identified autonomous lunar landing as a relevant situation for testing the potential applications of innovative bio-inspired visual guidance systems to space missions. Biomimetic optic flow-based strategies for controlling automatic landing were tested in a very realistic simulated Moon environment. Visual information was provided using the PANGU software program and used to regulate the optic flow generated during the landing of a two degrees of freedom spacecraft. The results of the simulation showed that a single elementary motion detector coupled to a regulator robustly controlled the autonomous descent and the approach of the simulated moonlander. “Low gate” located approximately 10 m above the ground was reached with acceptable vertical and horizontal speeds of 4 m/s and 5 m/s, respectively. It was also established that optic flow sensing methods can be used successfully to cope with temporary sensor blinding and poor lighting conditions.

Published in:

Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2010 IEEE International Conference on

Date of Conference:

3-7 May 2010