The aim of the VaMEx initiative is to develop an autonomous, heterogeneous swarm of robots to explore the Valles Mariners of the planet Mars. Travelling, walking and flying systems are to use their advantages to jointly investigate a large area with different environmental characteristics.

The VaMEx-APO project is part of the VaMEx 3 initiative, which aims to develop and demonstrate various key technologies for later exploration on Mars. The core of the VaMEx-APO project is the development of a highly accurate and at the same time fail-safe absolute position and orientation determination system. A high level of reliability is crucial for space missions, as repairs, remote access and software updates are no longer possible. The simultaneous achievement of the objectives (high accuracy and high reliability) is technologically very demanding, as high accuracy can only be achieved with complex algorithms that model or estimate all sources of error and their statistics, and are therefore themselves more error-prone than simple algorithms that neglect minor errors. A precise and fail-safe positioning system is a key component for a future Mars mission. However, there are also numerous terrestrial applications for a precise and at the same time fail-safe positioning system – one example is the autonomous driving of robots and vehicles, where functional safety is of great importance in addition to accuracy.

The fusion of camera-based and LIDAR-based SLAM is a core task of the project in order to increase the accuracy and robustness of navigation. Furthermore, a local position measurement system is to be set up and used for localisation. The Artemis rover will be equipped with a special drop mechanism to distribute the radio beacons required for this at specific locations in the field.

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