MUROCO (MUlti RObot behaviour CO-ordination): An automation & robotic mission verification support tool

ExoMars rover
ExoMars rover

Automation and robotics has been identified as a key enabling technology to support planetary exploration. This is true during many phases of exploration including the collection of scientific and engineering data, setting up automated surface infrastructure and in the future, possible preparations for a human presence on Mars. The needs for onboard autonomy in conjunction with a safe and predictable execution is crucial for planetary missions wherein round trip communication lags can be as long as 40 minutes for Mars.

Formal verification methods provide the means to ensure that all possible scenario branches in a mission script or an onboard programme have been covered during the mission preparation and verification phase. Over the past years ESA has developed Robot Monitoring and Command subsystems technologies that allow a robotic operator to interact with the robotic device.

Using this system, the operator interacts with the automation and robotic device at a high level of activity abstraction, typically at task or action levels. The operator can also create an activity plan, verify its nominal execution by simulation to qualify the activity plan, and once the activity plan is qualified, launch and monitor its execution on the target device.

Using formal verification and robot monitoring and command subsystem technologies, it is proposed to study the use of a generic formal mission specification and verification tool for a planetary mission application as a first step, and to focus on the ExoMars mission in a second step. Then, this tool shall be integrated to the robot monitoring and command subsystem in order to support, in an interactive manner the automation and robotic activities validation. Lastly, it is aimed at demonstrating, for the ExoMars mission case the use of the integrated formal mission specification and verification tools.

It is widely acknowledged that exploration spacecraft as well as planetary rovers must be increasingly automated. This has many advantages related to communication delays, operational constraints, etc. However, autonomy implies even more stringent reliability requirements and all operations and mission scenarios have to be investigated prior to executing a certain operation, hence the wider potential impact of the results of this activity.

Start Expected
or actual duration
Status Prime contractor
Oct '03 24 months Completed TRASYS

Executive Summary

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Last update: 10 May 2006

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