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Technologies and Human-Robot Collaboration for Surface EVA Exploration Activities and Training in European Analogue Environments (MOONWALK)
Start date: Aug 29, 2013, End date: Sep 1, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

MOONWALK develops innovative technologies for co-operative human-robot space exploration (robot-assisted EVA). It uses and further develops European Earth analogue infrastructure to validate these technologies under simulated extraterrestrial planetary conditions (low gravity, extreme environmental conditions). Astronauts equipped with an EVA suit and special tools for EVA activities (e.g. exobiology sampling) are supported by a small assistent-robot (rover). The project develops an innovative user-friendly man-machine-interface (MMI) for efficient robot control under restricted conditions (movement restriction through EVA suit, low visibility, etc.). The MMI will comprise of robot control by gestures and a data interface integrated in the EVA suit. The robot will be equipped with autonomous behaviour to be able to assist the astronaut in EVA (e.g. exobiological sampling) with a minimum of user interaction. The project will evaluate the interaction of local (astronaut) and remote (GCC) control of the robot under various time-delay conditions. Bio-monitoring equipment integrated in the EVA suit as well as gesture and pose recognition implemented on the robot will enable the consistent monitoring of the astronaut's state of health. In case of emergency, the robot will be able to support the GCC in rescue operations. To simulate the low-gravity conditions a robot-astronaut team will encounter on planetary exploration missions to Moon, Mars or asteroids, MOONWALK will use underwater test facilities in Marseille (both indoors and outdoors) and Bremen (indoors). To simulate extreme environmental conditions (heat, dust) and specific exobiological conditions to be found on Mars, the project will use the indoor test facilities in Bremen and the Rio Tinto test site.
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