The Lightweight Rover Unit (LRU) is the prototype of a mobile robot for exploration of unknown, impassable and hard to access terrain. The research work on semi-autonomy serves as preparation for future planetary exploration missions and terrestrial disaster operations.
In 2014 the LRU was presented in public for the first time.
The LRU combines several of the latest technologies developed at the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics such as the drive and joint units, the motors of which were already proven in outer space use for five years on the International Space Station in the ROKVISS experiment. A stereo camera and multi-award winning Semi-Global-Matching stereo vision (SGM) enable the robot to perceive its surroundings in three dimensions. From this, the Rover calculates maps of the environment and then autonomously steers towards predefined targets in unknown and uneven terrain. This independent navigation is essential, since signals from the earth require several seconds or minutes making direct remote control difficult. The enhancement of the LRU with a robotic arm mounted on the system allows it to manipulate known and unknown objects. In 2015, the LRU took part in the SpaceBot Camp of the DLR Space Administration.
During the ROBEX demo mission space campaign that took place during June–July 2017 on Mt. Etna, Italy, we performed some Long Range Navigation Tests with the LRU.
DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
The LRU (Lightweight Rover Unit) is the prototype of a semi-autonomous robot for the exploration of the moon or Mars. It combines several of the latest technologies developed at the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics such as the drive and joint units, the motors of which were already proven in outer space use for five years on the International Space Station in the ROKVISS experiment.
DLR (CC-BY 3.0).
LRU2 at Mount Etna in 2017 (ROBEX)
LRU2 faces Lander at Mount Etna in 2017 (ROBEX)
The Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics presented the LRU rover and the walking robot TORO at the 2014 ILA.
LRU at SpaceBot Camp in 2015
Semi-autonomous navigation of the LRU at the ILA 2014
LRU without its casing with robot arm
After successfully locating the object, the LRU autonomously picks up the yellow battery.
The LRU ascends the ramp to the red base station to mount the found objects there.
Elevation map for navigation made using own movement and depth imagery
The heterogeneous robot team, consisting of the rover LRU and multicopter Ardea, is used to autonomously explore unknown environments. As a ground-based vehicle, the rovers' locomotion is energy-efficient and with its landing platform it serves as a mobile base to the multicopter. Due to the compact size and the ability to fly the multicopter is used in difficult terrain and even caves. Both robots have the same capability to use their optical and inertial sensors to simultaneously sense the 3D environment to avoid collisions and to create 3D Maps. Furthermore, resulting 3D maps can be exchanged between the robots and merged together.
The RMExplores! team together with two LRUs at the competition grounds