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A Rough-Terrain Casting Robot for the ESA Lunar Robotics Challenge

  • Autori: Alicino, A.; Catalano, M.; Bonomo, F.; Belo, F.; Grioli, G.; Schiavi, R.; Fagiolini, A.; Bicchi, A.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2009
  • Tipologia: Proceedings (TIPOLOGIA NON ATTIVA)
  • OA Link:


This paper describes the design and implementation of DAVID, a lunar vehicle developed for the European Space Agency (ESA) Lunar Robotics Challenge, presenting severe terrain negotiation and sample acquisition challenges. We discuss in some detail two of the main innovative aspects of our entry to the challenge, i.e. the locomotion system and the sample acquisition system. Motivated by the challenge specifications, a range of different locomotion systems were considered, among which we chose a simple, rugged and effective wheeled system. We provide an account of the choice of five different types of wheels, which were designed, analyzed and experimentally tested in conditions similar to the challenge. The system eventually turned out to be very effective in negotiating 89% slopes of volcanic terrain on the challenge site, Mount Teide in Tenerife. To reduce the distance to be traveled on the difficult terrain and avoid risks in reaching the lowest parts of a crater, the vehicle was endowed with an innovative sample acquisition system, i.e. a casting manipulator. Casting manipulation is a technique in which the end-effector is thrown, the sample material is acquired, and the end-effector is retrieved using a light tether that acts as a "fishing line". The casting manipulator developed for DAVID uses an innovative sling-like technique, capable to obtain longer and more precise casts than previous oscillating versions. The analysis and experimental verification of DAVID's robot sling are reported, demonstrating its effectiveness. Finally, we give a brief account of the outcomes of the ESA Lunar Robotics Challenge, where our team came in second over other 8 teams that passed the final qualification phase.