PROJECT TRAILER: TANDEM OF TWO ROVERS
FOR EXTENDING LUNAR EXPLORATION
TRAILER system exploring lunar tubes (image: LIQUIFER)
31 October 2019 The European Space Agency (ESA) signed a contract on the development of the “TRAILER” robotic system with COMEX and its partners The German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence Robotics Innovation Center (DFKI RIC) and LIQUIFER Systems Group. TRAILER is a two-year project to test a novel architecture of robotic cooperation based on a tandem of two rovers for lunar surface exploration missions.
ESA is working with its international partners on the development of the lunar GATEWAY, the first permanent human outpost beyond Earth’s orbit. GATEWAY must be considered as a Base Camp that will serve to set-up missions on the surface of the Moon as part of the HERACLES and ARTEMIS Program. Astronauts and robots will work together to prepare the coming era of space exploration with missions to the lunar South Pole and other locations: robotic explorers will search for ISRU elements that could support a human presence on the surface. These scouts will be operated either from Earth or from GATEWAY in lunar orbit; and they will need to perform certain tasks in autonomy. The main objective of the TRAILER activity is to develop a rover system consisting of
- An agile and powerful rover (TRACTOR) equipped with high performance locomotion and navigation, local wireless transceiver, short-term energy storage, sample acquisition system, and
- An active trailer (WAIN) equipped with limited locomotion and navigation, high power generation or storage and local wireless network that could assure lunar-earth communication and host a scientific laboratory for sample collection and analysis.
System components of the TRAILER project (image: COMEX)
The TRAILER activity is led by the Marseille-based company COMEX that develops the “WAIN”, a heavy lunar robotic vehicle that carries the communication, batteries and sample containers. DFKI RIC in Germany is responsible for simulations and development of the second robot, the “TRACTOR”, an agile scout robot that brings the samples back to WAIN. LIQUIFER Systems Group in Austria defines the mission scenarios of the robotic tandem and planning. The TRAILER system will be tested in test facilities at the partner organizations in France, Germany and Austria.
For more information on the ESA Technology Development Element, which is supporting this activity, please visit the website