OpenSplice DDS in Coordinated Multirobot Missions for Lunar Sample Collection

PrismTech recently announced that NASA had selected OpenSplice DDS to help make Star Trek inspired Holodeck Technologies a reality. Following on from this I would like to highlight in my blog another space related project which is using OpenSplice DDS called IMPERA (integrated mission planning using heterogeneous robots).

The main goal of IMPERA is the development of a multirobot planning and execution architecture with a focus on a lunar sample collection scenario in an unknown environment. For future lunar and other planetary missions, autonomy is mandatory. Current NASA missions deal mainly with the exploration of the Mars surface and the analysis of the surface consistency. The systems Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity work as individual systems. Looking toward the future, it is a subsequent step to set up infrastructure and scientific components on Mars or on the moon. This infrastructure can consist of small stations measuring environmental conditions, units that are used to provide drill cores for subsurface analysis, or units for communication and energy supply.

Building infrastructure and interacting with infrastructure during a planetary mission calls for multirobot systems and coordination between multiple systems, each system having dedicated sensors and roles during a mission. If robots need to cooperate in a multirobot context, it is important to know how such a team of robots can exchange their knowledge about the world in terms of a world model, how to generate a mission plan, and how to execute a plan using robots with different abilities and configurations.

For the IMPERA project PrismTech’s OpenSplice DDS implementation of the Data Distribution Service for Real-Time Systems standard was chosen as the communcations middleware. OpenSplice DDS is ideally suited for the IMPERA project as it is based on the loosely coupled publish subscribe paradignm and provides extensive quality of service (QoS) options such as automatic reconnection and data buffering in the case of communication loss. The DDS communication middleware helps to ensure that each robot has the same knowledge about the internal status of each individual robot.

For further details about the IMPERA project, a Journal of Field Robotics paper titled “Towards Coordinated Multirobot Missions for Lunar Sample Collection in an Unknown Environment” authored by Markus Eich, Ronny Hartanto, Sebastian Kasperski, Sankaranarayanan Natarajan, and Johannes Wollenberg of DFKI, Robotics Innovation Center, Bremen, Germany is Now Available.

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