The Space Robotics Research Group (SpaceR) is headed by Prof. Miguel Angel Olivares-Mendez. The team focused on increasing the autonomy of planetary and orbital robotics for space exploration and space resource utilization. Furthermore, as heritage from previous projects involvement at the Autonomous & Robotics research group and the background of the head of the group, SpaceR team is also focussing on aerial robotics for autonomous navigation and multi-robot scenarios on earth to be extended to Space applications. “Planetary robotics” include orbiters, landers, rovers, hoppers and other mobile systems to explore other planets and asteroids. “Orbital robotics” include orbital servicing, operations and maintenance activities, such us the use of robotic arms in the ISS, the autonomous navigation of satellites or spacecraft equipped with robotics tools, such as robotic arms for on-orbit servicing, such as refueling, maintenance, re-orbiting, etc, for collaborative and non-collaborative targets. Both together are defined as Space Robotics.

On SpaceR we will be also focussing on the development of autonomous algorithms for on-Space manufacturing. Furthermore, they are also in the interest of SpaceR to develop different levels of autonomy for all these tasks, from tele-operation to fully autonomous systems. The research on Space Robotics focused on global and local perception (mainly vision) based autonomous navigation, autonomous decision making, on-orbit and on-surface autonomous operations and sample/payload manipulation, self-learning/adaptability to unknown environments and multi-robots cooperation. This includes map building & merging and self localization with the estimation of orientation and position with respect to the planet/asteroid or w.r.t. other assets such as the lander, base other autonomous systems or a spacecraft; advanced on board autonomy to be reactive and cope with the environmental uncertainties by using declarative and reactive reasoning mechanisms. Multi-robot cooperation to increase the coverage range and to increase the potential applications. The Space Robotics activities are supported by the Lunar analogue facility (LunaLab) for the tests with planetary robots and a 2D zero-gravity (Zero-G Lab) for orbital robotics. The lunar analogue facility is a close environment of 80m2 with more than 20 tons of Basalt of 1 to 3 mm and several rocks of basalt. The big quantity of Basalt will help to create a different type of lunar landscapes. The 2D zero-gravity will be an extremely flat surface of 5x3 meters approximately, with floating platforms that emulate certain on-orbit dynamics and different on-orbit scenarios.