SENAV Consortium Improves Safety and Performance of AI-Supported Space Robots in Exploration Missions

TTTech is a partner in the SENAV* project, in charge of hardware system integration. SENAV stands for Smart Space Exploration Navigation. The space science and exploration technologies project is funded by Horizon Europe. It aims to improve the safety and performance of landers, drones, and robot control systems for AI-based autonomous space exploration.

Smart robots, such as drones, landers, and rovers make it possible to study far-off celestial bodies. Supported by advanced algorithms, artificial intelligence, and specialized hardware and software solutions, these machines must safely land and navigate in harsh environments like the surface of the Moon or Mars. It is the goal of the SENAV project to enhance these robots further by developing and testing a highly reliable, safety-critical hardware/software platform for demanding space robotic applications. Within the project, the versatility and utility of the platform will be demonstrated in two applications: vision-based crater navigation, and navigation based on SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping).
“TTTech is proud to represent Austria’s space sector as part of this important European project,” says Werner Köstler, Executive Board Member for Aerospace at TTTech. “Adapting our technology for space landers, drones, and robots is a crucial step to expand our traction in the rapidly-growing space market.”

SENAV consortium met in Vienna to discuss technical specifications

The SENAV consortium unites four European organizations: project coordinator iTUBS, an SME from Germany, M2M Solutions, an SME from Slovakia, TTTech, an experienced industrial partner, as well as the renowned research center DLR from Germany. In a meeting that took place in Vienna from June 1-2, 2023, the partners reviewed the requirements to proceed with the implementation.

A crater navigation (CNav) framework developed by the DLR will be taken to the next level, enabling fully autonomous navigation around cratered bodies (e.g. the Moon), even if contact with Earth is lost. CNav allows precision absolute navigation for orbiters and landers which poses significant challenges to computational performance. Therefore, project coordinator iTUBS will accelerate related software routines using a custom space-borne computer. Similarly, M2M Solutions will develop an AI-based application for autonomous navigation to be used by space drones and rovers that move on or above the surface of a celestial body. A miniaturized high-performance network switch by TTTech Aerospace will be a critical component in the overall small space platform supporting AI-based autonomous robotic applications.

* SENAV has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101082476.

About TTTech Aerospace

TTTech Aerospace provides deterministic embedded network and platform solutions for aerospace and space applications. Its products have already completed over 1 billion flight hours in Level A safety-critical applications like fly-by-wire, power systems, avionics, engine controls, and environmental control systems and covered distances of more than two million kilometers in deep space. Proven, mature solutions help customers in the aerospace and space industries to develop integrated, modular, and scalable deterministic network platforms that increase safety, fault tolerance, and availability. In addition, integrated solutions reduce size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C), allowing for easier handling of equipment and lowering total lifecycle costs.