Field Demonstrations

NGC has participated in a series of field demonstrations, either as a preparation for space missions or for the demonstration of its technologies in terrestrial applications. These demonstrations include the helicopter demonstration of a Lidar-based Hazard Detection and Avoidance System, a Moon exploration rover prototype field deployment and a ground mapping system to support Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) operations.

ALFIE Flight Experiment

In 2010 and 2011, NGC conducted the first ever real-time full-scale demonstration of a Lidar-based Hazard Detection and Avoidance system for autonomous planetary landing. The experiment, called the Autonomous Landing Flight Experiment (ALFIE) successfully demonstrated the real-time motion compensation and safe-site determination capability of the system in the challenging dynamic environment of a helicopter platform.

The objective of the experiment was to reproduce planetary landing trajectories with a helicopter while scanning the terrain, performing motion compensation and identifying safe landing sites in real-time during the descent. This experiment successfully validated NGC’s Hazard Detection and Avoidance technologies for planetary landing applications. The experiment, sponsored by the Canadian Space Agency, was conducted in partnership with MDA Space Missions and Optech Inc.

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ALFIE Experiment Package Mounted on Helicopter

Real-Time Terrain Topography Reconstruction

Real-Time Terrain Topography Reconstruction

CSA Mars Yard
CSA Mars Yard

Test Site (emulated terrain) at the Canadian Space Agency

Real-Time Safe Landing Site Determination

Real-Time Safe Landing Site Determination

Artemis Field Deployment

NGC’s Vision-Based Navigation system for rovers has been implemented and deployed on-board the Artemis Jr Moon exploration prototype rover with its partner Neptec Design Group. NGC and Neptec successfully supported the field deployment campaign for the NASA RESOLVE experiment package in 2012.

Artemis Jr

Artemis Jr Moon Exploration Rover Prototype (© Brian Shiro)

In order to guarantee flawless system execution during the field deployment campaign, various integration steps were successfully conducted prior to field deployment. These steps first validate the software-system components and then gradually increase the level of complexity of the tests and the integration with the rover system components. The objective of this approach is to minimise overall rover integration time (the component must already be at a high level of maturity when ported to the rover) and maximise system robustness (robustness to challenging environmental conditions can be verified prior to field deployment). The various integration steps include:

The successful completion of these steps ensured an optimal use of the rover during the field deployment campaign.

Rover Navigation System Software-Based Validation

Integration of Rover Navigation System in Dynamic Lab Environment

Rover Navigation System Navigation in Dynamic Laboratory Environment

Indoor Validation of Rover Navigation System

Outdoor Validation of Rover Navigation System

Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance

NGC demonstrated the application of its space-based technologies to terrestrial applications by demonstrating a system for 3D environment reconstruction through sensor fusion. The system installed on a vehicle fuses inputs from a Lidar sensor, multiple cameras, a GPS and an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) to create a colorized and georeferenced three-dimensional map of the environment to support Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) applications.

3D Environment Reconstruction with Sensor Fusion