Intelligent Excavator Control for a Lunar Mining System

by Paul J. A. Lever, Mining and Geological Engineering, Dep,
Fei-Yue Wang, Mining and Geological Engineering, Dep,
Deqian Chen, Mining and Geological Engineering, Dep,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Robotics for Challenging Environments


The benefits of utilizing local planetary resources are a large reduction in the cost of lifting materials from the earth's surface into earth orbit. Since the moon is one of the closest bodies to the earth, harvesting lunar resources will require lunar mining. Excavation will take place in the dynamic unstructured lunar environment where conditions are highly variable and unpredictable. Therefore, an autonomous mining (excavation) machine must use a system structure that can identify, plan, then sense and control real-time dynamic machine movements in this environment. Our solution is a vision-based hierarchical control structure that facilitates modular organization and efficient decomposition of mining control tasks is presented. However, excavation tasks also require force/torque sensor feedback to control the excavation tool after it has penetrated the surface. This is not a vision based sensing strategy but a blind sensing strategy. Thus, a fuzzy logic controller (FLC) is used to interpret the forces and torques gathered from a wrist mounted force/torque sensor during excavation. Experimental results from several excavation tests using the FLC are given. These results represent the first step towards an integrated sensing and control system for a lunar mining system.

Subject Headings: Excavation | Control systems | Moon | Lunar materials | Sensors and sensing | Equipment and machinery | Fuzzy logic | Structural control

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