Autonomous Vehicle Docking System
Researchers at Boise State University in conjunction with NASA’s Space Mission Analysis Branch are working to expand the exploration and mapping capabilities of an autonomous robot team. Algorithms exist for Simultaneous Location and Mapping (SLAM) onboard unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGV), but additional work needs to be completed in areas that are denied GPS and a magnetic azimuth, such as the Martian surface.
While individual autonomous robots are abundant, methods of having them work together still need to be developed. This will maximize the strengths of each individual robot. Air and ground vehicles have specific sets of strengths that complement each other. Air vehicles are highly mobile with limited flight times while ground vehicles are not as maneuverable and less restricted in transit time. Our team has designed and prototyped a docking system to allow an UAV to land on a UGV, to facilitating transportation and charging. Data will be continuously collected and transferred from the UAV to the UGV via two way communication. This symbiotic relationship of the vehicles’ form factors allows the team to utilize the benefits of each.