In the recent years, there has been an increasing research into and experience with autonomy and automation of space missions, such as Earth observation, space station operations, planetary robotic exploration, and deep space probes. Capabilities of such systems have grown exponentially, leading to the need of the development of autonomy for the spacecraft and ground systems. Robotic systems need the ability to react to a wide variety of situations and circumstances, either nominal or exceptional, without the need of human supervision.
The mobility range capability of the “flown” surface rover shave been up to date strongly limited to few tens of meters per day. From a pure technical point of view, and simplifying the problem, this limitation is mostly due to the rover locomotion system and its power storage capabilities from one side, and from the other by the lack/reduced skills in terms of autonomous capability to take decision on-board. The result is the impossibility to cover reasonable portions of/or multiples geographical areas of a potential planetary surface. This reducing drastically the data returns both in terms of “pure science” and/or potential data collection for in-situ resources analysis and further exploitation key for a sustainable human exploration and/or commercialization of space resources.
The high level objectives and the ambitions of OG10, namely Autonomous Decision Making (ADE), are multiples when analysed over time. In the short/mid-term needs means advancing in designing, developing and testing key technologies suitable to better explore (increase of scientific and overall data collection) autonomously planetary surfaces exploration (in long traverse) while guaranteeing fast reaction (on board deliberative capabilities), mission reliability and safety, and optimal exploitation of robotic means resources within reasonable costs. When translating those objective to the long term the team understands that OG10 intends to prepare for extending human access to space while making a step ahead towards the preparation of those technologies required for the future exploration, onsite resource exploitation of planetary surfaces and effectively support manned space misión.