Multisensor Navigation

Towards a Swarm Navigation System on Mars – Test Data Generation and Evaluation


The search for extra-terrestrial live is among the most fascinating research topics in astronautics. Many researchers hope to find extra-terrestrial live on our neighbor planet Mars. Until now, this search is accomplished via individual, partly autonomous rovers. To control the rovers a communications link is established. However, it takes several minutes for the radio signals to travel from Earth to Mars. Thus, the remote control of the rovers is very cumbersome. Therefore, our vision is that future Mars exploration missions work autonomously even in environments that are difficult to access such as mountains or canyons. To increase the reliability, availability, speed, and range of these missions, we propose the operation of autonomous robotic swarms. A key technology for robotic swarms is swarm navigation: Swarm elements shall not collide with each other nor drift apart from each other.

Goal of the thesis

Our goal is to develop a decentralized cooperative and autonomous swarm navigation system. This system shall provide excellent navigation accuracy through signal round-trip-delay (RTD) measurements between the swarm elements, communicate the navigation data, and detect “hidden” rovers. With respect to these points, we need to generate test data for system simulations and modeling. The test data shall be generated by using RTD measurement or channel sounder equipment as well as UGVs or UAVs.

Key tasks

  1. Review and understand the swarm navigation concept, requirements and constraints on the navigation system discussed in the literature such as
    N. Patwari, et al., "Locating the nodes: cooperative localization in wireless sensor networks," IEEE Signal Processing Magazine, vol.22, no.4, pp. 54- 69, July 2005, doi: 10.1109/MSP.2005.1458287
    Y. Mohan and S.G. Ponnambalam, “An extensive review of research in swarm robotics,” in World Congress on Nature Biologically Inspired Computing (NaBIC) 2009, pp. 140–145
  2. Define measurement methodology and setup equipment
    • Necessary equipment, e.g., RTD measurement, channel sounder, and video equipment
    • Swarm constellations of UGVs and UAVs: Static and dynamic with or without interference
    • Environment: Accessible, Mars-like, regulatory and legal issues
  3. Execute test data measurements
  4. Analyze and evaluate test data in a MATLAB/Java based simulation environment
  5. Write thesis report to document methodologies and results. We encourage publishing results in an international conference or journal


  • Studies in mechanical, electrical, or communications engineering
  • In-depth knowledge about communication theory, navigation systems, and signal processing
  • Knowledge about MATLAB and Java

Dr. Stephan Sand
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)

Institut für Kommunikation und Navigation
, Nachrichtensysteme
Tel: +49 8153 28-1464

Fax: +49 8153 28-1871

Dr.-Ing. Armin Dammann
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)

Institut für Kommunikation und Navigation
, Nachrichtensysteme
Tel: +49 8153 28-2871

Fax: +49 8153 28-1871

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