Performance evaluation of underwater platforms in the context of space exploration
Forrest, AL and Laval, BE and Lim, DSS and Williams, DR and Trembanis, AC and Marinova, MM and Shepard, R and Brady, AL and Slater, GF and Gernhardt, ML and McKay, CP, Performance evaluation of underwater platforms in the context of space exploration, Planetary and Space Science, 58, (4) pp. 706-716. ISSN 0032-0633 (2010) [Refereed Article]
Robotic platforms are essential for future human planetary and lunar exploration as they can operate in more extreme environments with a greater endurance than human explorers. In this era of space exploration, a terrestrial analog that can be used for development of the coordination between manned and robotic vehicles will optimize the scientific return of future missions while concurrently minimizing the downtime of both human explorers and robotic platforms. This work presents the use of underwater exploratory robots – autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV), remotely operated vehicles (ROV), and manned submersibles – as analogues for mixed human–robot exploration of space. Subaqueous settings present diverse challenges for navigation, operation and recovery that require the development of an exploration model of a similar complexity as required for space exploration. To capitalize on the strengths of both robotic and human explorers this work presents lessons learnt with respect to the fields of human–robotic interface (HRI) and operator training. These are then used in the development of mission evaluation tools: (1) a task efficiency index (TEI), (2) performance metrics, and (3) exploration metrics. Although these independent evaluations were useful for specific missions, further refinement will be required to fully evaluate the strengths and capabilities of multiple platforms in a human–robotic exploration campaign in order to take advantage of unforeseen science opportunities in remote settings.