Space Robotics

Organizers: Riccardo Bonalli, Marco Pavone, Nisar Ahmed, Dan Szafir, Chris Heckman, Jay McMahon, Erik Komendera


Recently, there has been a surge of interest in achieving ambitious space missions, within both microgravity and extraterrestrial surface environments. However, the harsh environments and stringent constraints of space operation demand robust integration of many advanced capabilities and associated technologies. In particular, many mission concepts require decisive, real-time autonomous systems which must account for environmental uncertainties and disturbances, and in some cases human-robot interaction. To this end, a key requirement is that such autonomy must remain sufficiently trustworthy, accessible, and comprehensible to human stakeholders (mission scientists, engineers, astronauts, etc.) to add value in achieving mission objectives. There have been significant advances autonomy applied to terrestrial applications, including in the domains of environmental perception, optimal differential planning/manipulation, and machine learning, resulting in rich theoretical and algorithmic tools. However, integration into the space domain is occurring at a more gradual pace, despite this context being one of the ultimate tests of robot autonomy. Thus, this workshop aims to highlight new developments in the field of autonomous space robots. Last year’s workshop identified several grand challenges facing the adoption of autonomy in space, namely complex multi-agent collaborative frameworks, failure detection/recovery and reliability/predictability guarantees. This workshop builds on last year’s successes and will bring together top researchers, engineers, scientists, and practitioners from the space exploration, space robotics, autonomous robotics, and machine learning communities to identify technologies and techniques that are ready for space deployment.