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Courtesy ESA/ESTECCourtesy NASA/JPL-CaltechCourtesy RCL-Company

April 20-21. 2009,
Department of Automation and Systems Technology,
Helsinki University of Technology,
Otaniementie 17, Espoo

With Support from SpaceMaster Programme, visiting scholars were invited to give lectures on planetary robotics for students at Helsinki University of Technology and Czech Technical University. Contacts were made with NASA/JPL and Rover Company (Russia). Due to limited time available from visiting top lecturers the classes were arranged over two intense days in Helsinki and two days in Prague.

From NASA/JPL arrived Dr. Richard Volpe, Mobility & Robotic Systems Section Manager. Richard visited both Helsinki and Prague. Mr. Alexei Bogatchev, Executive director and leading engineer, arrived to Helsinki from Rover Company in St. Petersburg, Russia. In addition to two scholars supported by SpaceMaster Programme, two additional top speakers arrived to Helsinki with their own funding; Mr. Gianfranco Visentin, Head of Automation and Robotics Section, arrived from European Space Agency ESA/ESTEC, and professor Juha Röning, PhD., arrived from Computer Engineering Laboratory in University of Oulu (Finland). TKK researchers gave two additional presentations and SpaceMaster students gave one presentation.

Symposium Topics:

Monday, April 20th
Volpe: Introduction to space robotics, NASA/JPL history, space robotics history.
Volpe: Computer vision, manipulation and enabling techniques for space robotics.
Visentin: Robotics and automation in space, Exomars-program and robotics research at ESA.
Jari Saarinen: Future Worksite - enabling technology for Lunar construction.
Juha Röning: Robotics development at University of Oulu & experiences from ESA Lunar Rover Challenge .

Tuesday, April 21st
Volpe: JPL rover missions to Mars; past, present and future.
Bogatchev: Soviet and Russian planetary & mobile robots 1963-2007.
Volpe: New technologies for planetary exploration.
Seppo Heikkilä: SpacePartner; Robotic assistant for astronauts.
SpaceMaster Students: Experiences from SpaceMaster programme, round 2007-2009.

Audience in Helsinki consisted of roughly 50 listeners on both days. One third of audience came from other institutions than TKK, including other universities, research institutions and industry. Dr. Volpe repeated his presentations in CTU (Prague). The lectures were found of a great interest and audience participated with endless number of questions. Outcome of the symposium was found very good and of a great educational value for the listeners.

Guest speakers: Alexei Bogatchev (RCL), Gianfranco Visentin (ESA), Richard Volpe (JPL), Juha Röning (OY) and TKK presentative Prof. Aarne Halme (TKK)

Round 3 SpaceMasters David Leal Martinez and Jurgen Leitner presented experiences from Erasmus Mundus SpaceMaster program.

Dr. Richard Volpe is Manager of the Mobility and Robotic Systems Section of the Autonomous Systems Division in Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). In addition to guiding technology development for future robotic exploration of Mars and the Moon, he has been actively involved in 2003 & 2009 rover mission development, and 2007 lander mission operations. Richard's research interests include: natural terrain mobile robots, real-time sensor-based control, manipulation, robot design, software architectures, and path planning.

Mr. Gianfranco Visentin is the head of Automation and Robotics (A&R) section working in support of ESA robotics projects. He has participated to the development of the European Robot Arm (ERA), the Columbus Microgravity Facilities, the EUROBOT system and the ExoMars project. In the field of Planetary robotics, Mr. Visentin has been responsible for the development of micro and mini rovers, aerobots and robotic moles.

Mr. Alexei Bogatchev is the Chief Engineer and Chief Technical Officer of Rover Company Ltd. Rover Co. ltd. was founded as a subsidiary of VNIITRANSMASH to work in the area of mobile and space robotics. The company specialization is the development and prototyping of the high-mobility robotics for space and ground applications. Alexei has been involved in developing several robotic platforms like Phobos hopper, Russian small Mars rover, ARGUS pointing and stabilizing platform for Mars 94/96 mission, Prototype of a small manipulator for Mars rover, and ExoMars rover candidate for European Space Agency.

Dr. Juha Röning is a Docent and Professor of Embedded Systems at the University of Oulu. His field of research is in next generation of intelligent systems, which are autonomous, adaptive, and able to correct their own mistakes. The area of research cover robotics, artificial intelligence, machine vision, pattern recognition, neural computing, and fuzzy logic.

Robotics at JPL/NASA
Automation and Robotics Section, ESA/ESTEC

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