FSI’s robotic initiative grew from a series of observations and the opportunity to combine unique FSI capabilities with NASA and university expertise to provide a unique capability for education and research.
Student Design Projects in general, and University Design Projects in particular, are increasingly focused on planetary robotic exploration. This is observed graduate level in proposals and projects, undergraduate level Senior Design Programs and High School Robotics Clubs and Classes. In all cases, effort is spent to both develop the exploration systems and instrumentation as well as the mobility platform(s) necessary to enable the use of the new capabilities. Often the mobility platforms consume a significant portion of project resources leaving little for the mission systems or effectors.
The challenge is to enhance commonality and reusability across mobility platforms in order to free up resources for the mission systems.
There exists a set of modular, extensible surface mobility platforms, complete with supporting software, suitable for assembly with additive manufacturing technologies and licensed for Research and Education use. Reference models and documentation exist for Student development and maturation of the platform with a library of past modifications and augmentations sufficiently curated to allow reliable re-use.
- EZ-RASSOR – Easy RASSOR Software
- EZ-RASSOR is a student-created open-source suite of software for smaller, un-crewed rovers. Students continue development and support of EZ-RASSOR to enhance control functionality and integrate autonomy functions for navigation, operations and cooperation. EZ-RASSOR is the primary software platform supporting this vision.
- RE-RASSOR – Research & Education RASSOR
- RE-RASSOR combines, under NASA License, the NASA Kennedy SwampWorks Mini-RASSOR rover with EZ-RASSOR robotic software. Students continue to enhance and advance the capabilities of the base rover, as well as augmentations such as arms and effectors, to create the tools, systems, methods and technologies necessary to achieve this Vision for small surface robots.
- Phoenix Rover
- Phoenix combines FSI systems, NASA needs and student innovations into a multi-capability rover able to perform solo missions, team with one or more RE-RASSOR systems to accomplish large or complex tasks and support development unsuited for smaller rovers. This broad range of capabilities is key to the achievement of this vision.
The Florida Space Institute, together with the Florida Space Grant Consortium (FSGC), the Center for Lunar and Asteroid Surface Systems (CLASS) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will advance development and maturation of small autonomous systems and leveraging the results to enhance STEM / STEAM education through student-led rover (mobility and effectors) development projects and competitions.
FSI Rover Classification
Rovers come in all shapes and sizes, are crewed or un-crewed and include various levels of autonomy. Further, while a “flight like” robot may be capable of mission like tasks on Earth, significant progress can be made in the Research and Education space with robots that are significantly less robust at significantly less cost. To reduce the ambiguity with respect to rover “size” as well as “strength”; terminology was identified that addresses these domains with respect to the envisioned machines. The FSI Rover Classification details is available to download here: