The search for extra-terrestrial life is among the most fascinating research topics in astronautics. Many researchers hope to find extra-terrestrial life 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 work
Within the “Valles Marineris Explorer” Project 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 design, integrate, assemble and test the transceivers for the RTD measurements.
Further details about Valles Marineris Explorer: http://www.dlr.de/kn/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-4308/6940_read-35897/admin-1/