Autonomous rovers are the key technology solutions for planetary exploration programs during which the systems have to operate in unknown and hostile outer space environments. Due to large interplanetary distances, real-time teleoperation of planetary exploration rovers is infeasible, and they must operate semi-autonomously. To improve their long-term autonomy, we develop reliable GN&C technologies for rover systems. This research focuses on four main themes:
- Geometric robust output-tracking control of nonholonomic rover systems facing complex sources of uncertainties and disturbances.
- Fast optimal traction control of rover systems on dynamic trajectories to improve their mobility, stability, and localization.
- Slow-fast realization of nonholonomic systems with strong friction forces and investigating slip dynamics in rover systems.
- Fault and anomaly detection and isolation in autonomous rovers using symmetric track fusion in a network of sensors to improve localization and control.
To evaluate the efficacy of the developed GN&C technologies, we test them in a high fidelity software-in-the-loop simulation environment for rover systems including different wheel-soil interaction models provided by the Vortex Studio multi-body dynamics software.