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VISNAV - VISion Based Terrain NAVigation

VISNAV project aims at demonstrating and verifying the principle of the autonomous navigation for future ESA unmanned missions.

The VISNAV activity is focused on autonomous landing, Rover applications, Rendez-vous applications and Stellar navigations without instruction from ground using Vision based systems.

OIP, as subcontractor to Thales Alenia Space [Turin, I], developed the VISNAV flight camera design focused on landing applications and manufactured a camera demonstrator for validation. Project is performed under ESA contract.

Vision Based Technology

The Vision based system consists of four main function blocks:

  • An optical unit which acquires images by means of a camera and treats the images with a limited processing capability.
  • An Image processing Unit (IPB) which receives the images from the Optical unit and extensively processes the images in order to extract all the information needed for the autonomous navigation system.
  • A Guidance Navigation and Control system (GNC), guided by the OnBoard Computer (OBC) in which the best trajectory to be followed is derived from information from different sensors and images from the IPB (Image Processing Board). The best trajectory will be derived autonomously or by telecommand.
  • Communication links between those elements in order to transmit in an appropriate way the information from one unit to the other.

 

 

VISNAV – Visual Navigation

VISNAV project aims at demonstrating and verifying the principle of the autonomous navigation for future ESA unmanned missions.

The system will be adapted for various types of mission scenario’s including Render-Vous, Interplanetary Navigation, Descent & Landing and Rover applications. The main mission scenario is focussed on Descent & Landing and/or Rover applications for the Moon.

In the frame of this project, OIP developped the optical unit (camera) for VISNAV.

 

Keywords

Solution: Camera

Type: Navigation/Landing

Application field: Autonomous landing

Mission: Demonstrator

Life: Demonstrator delivered end of 2015

Mission

Vision based navigation systems have been identified as a key technology in order to develop autonomous exploration missions. Autonomous navigation systems is a growing field of interest applicable to a large range of mission scenarios from rendez-vous to landing and rover applications. Europe has developed a number of successful vision based navigation systems with NPAL, AutoNav and NEO. The VISNAV project is initiated in continuation of these projects.

The preliminary approaches lead to the conclusion that even for quite different scenarios a lot of commonalities can be implemented in the camera architecture and also in the image data processing chain from software and hardware point of view. The aim of the VISNAV project is to develop these common blocks and to demonstrate their suitability for targeted scenarios.

OIP’s Participation

OIP, as subcontractor to Thales Alenia Space (Turin, I), developed the VISNAV flight camera design focused on landing applications and manufactured a camera demonstrator (DM) for validation. Project is performed under ESA contract.

The demonstrator model (DM) had representative electrical interfaces and functionality but made from COTS and not with space qualified components.

Status

Project successfully concluded with the delivery of the demonstrator.

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