Esa seeks help to control robot spacecraft

Parrot drone The way humans control drones could aid future robot spacecraft

Related Stories

The European Space Agency is turning to owners of terrestrial robot aircraft to aid those that journey into space.

The agency has released software that makes use of the cameras on the Parrot drone to simulate docking with a virtual space station.

The Parrot drone quadcopter has proved popular with many iPhone owners as it can be controlled via the handset.

Data generated by the agency's app will be analysed to help fine tune navigation software for its own drones.

Fine control

Users of the European Space Agency's (Esa) app will designate a real-world feature to serve as their docking port.

An augmented-reality marker representing the port or airlock will then be overlaid on the image sent back to their handset by the drone's cameras.

Docking attempts will be scored by how fast the manoeuvre is completed without bumps, scrapes or crashes.

Extra points will be awarded for correctly orientating the drone and a slow final approach.

The Esa said it was not interested in the features drone owners designated as their virtual docking port - it wanted to gather data only about the way humans navigated the robot craft.

In particular it wanted to find out about the tiny corrections people made to keep a drone on course.

"People intuitively assess their position and motion in relation to their surroundings in various ways, based on what they see before them," said Esa research fellow Guido de Croon in a statement.

Data gathered via the app will be used to enable future robot spacecraft to cope with a wide variety of docking situations.

"We can obtain real-life data to train our algorithms in large amounts that would practically be impossible to get in any other way," said Leopold Summerer, head of the Esa lab that developed the app.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Technology stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Stained glass of man with swordFrance 1 England 0

    The most important battle you have probably never heard of


  • Golden retriever10 things

    Dogs get jealous, and nine more nuggets from the week's news


  • Pro-Israel demonstrators shout slogans while protesting in Berlin - 25 July 2014Holocaust guilt

    Gaza conflict leaves Germans confused over who to support


  • The emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-SabahFreedoms fear

    Growing concern for rights as Kuwait revokes citizenships


BBC Future

(NASA)

The five greatest space hacks

We present the ultimate in DIY fixes Read more...

Programmes

  • Leader of Hamas Khaled MeshaalHARDtalk Watch

    BBC exclusive: Hamas leader on the eagerness to end bloodshed in Gaza

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.