The Space Robotics Research Group (SpaceR) will focus on developing approaches to increase the autonomy of aerial robotics, planetary and orbital robotics for autonmous navigation, space exploration, operations, and resource utilization. Aerial robotics are multicopter and are used as first experimental platform to reach more complex developments on Space Robotics. Space Robotics covers planetary and orbital robotics. “Planetary robotics” include orbiters, landers, rovers and other mobile systems to explore other planets and asteroids. “Orbital robotics” include orbital servicing, operations and maintenance activities, such as the use of robotic arms in the ISS.

The research on Space Robotics will focus on global and local perception (mainly vision) based autonomous navigation, autonomous decision-making, in-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 (w.r.t.) to the planet/asteroid or to other assets such as the lander, the base or other autonomous systems or a spacecraft; advanced onboard autonomy to be reactive and cope with the environmental uncertainties by using declarative and reactive reasoning mechanisms. We will focus also on AI and soft-computing techniques for control the robots. Multi-robot cooperation or robotics swarms 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 (OrbitLab) 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 landscapes. The 2D zero-gravity will be an extremely flat table structure of 2x2 meters approximately, made on granite or similar stone. The activities of the Research Group will be linked to the initiative and directly connected with the Luxembourg Space Agency. The SpaceR team will collaborate with them in the organization of events to contribute to the dissemination of the Space Research activities developed by the research group for the general and specialized public.