Since 2013, DLR Space Administration is challenging roboticists all over Germany to test their work in the DLR SpaceBot Cup to tackle one of the most demanding tasks in space research: exploration of an unknown planet. Teams competing in the SpaceBot scenario have to explore an unknown planet, find objects, collect them, and bring them to a target area. Besides that, the environment has a severe impact on the robots. Challenging terrain, changing lighting conditions, and an impaired radio link bring the systems to the limits of available technology. In 2017 DLR Space Administration plans to launch the third mission to planet SpaceBot with a few innovations.
This year for the first time a call goes out to international robotics teams to participate in the CubeRover Challenge. CubeRovers are small vehicles that are meant to explore a system of lava tubes. Lava tubes form when magma is pouring out of chasms or vulcanoes and the lava flow cools and congeals from the outside while the still liquid inside flows off. This natural structures occur on many planets and will be part of the SpaceBot Cup scenario. The CubeRovers thereby provide up front information for their larger robot colleagues on the planet’s properties, before the race for the DLR SpaceBot Cup begins.
Starting from the landing vehicle, the rovers have to traverse the planet’s surface to the tube’s entrance via tele command. From there on the task is to explore the tubes autonomously, measure the color of three light sources, and reach the exit. The return drive to the landing vehicle is again tele operated.
Application details for participation as an international CubeRover or a national SpaceBot will be available soon.