ESA GNC Conference Papers Repository
The RVS3000 LiDAR sensor and its future in space robotics
Thanks to its robust design and accurate measurements, the Jena-Optronik RVS© LIDAR sensors are the most frequently used rendezvous- and docking sensors for ISS resupply by the European ATV, Japanese HTV and the US-American 'Cygnus' transport vehicle built by Orbital ATK. The RVS sensor is limited, though, to rendezvous and docking with cooperative targets, i.e. targets equipped with retro-reflector elements. For future applications like on-orbit servicing, space debris removal or planetary landing, a more powerful 3D imaging LIDAR system is required. Following the ESA activity 'ILT' (Imaging LIDAR Technology) and the DLR project 'LiQuaRD' (LIDAR Qualification for Rendezvous and Docking), a concept for a new powerful, yet compact and cost-effective LIDAR system was developed to both replace the previous RVS sensor and enable additional mission scenarios: the RVS3000 product family. A prototype LIDAR sensor using RVS3000 technology, called LIRIS-2, was developed, integrated and tested by Jena-Optronik for Airbus Defence & Space and ESA with the scope of recording high-resolution 3D images during the approach of ATV-5 to the ISS. The sensor worked flawlessly during the ATV-5 mission and provided a large amount of 3D point cloud data as well as internal sensor data from the ISS approach. In the presentation the previous LIDAR activities at Jena-Optronik will briefly review and an overview over the new flagship LIDAR Sensor, RVS3000 and its capabilities in robotic space applications will be provided. Selected results from the LIRIS-2 experiment on ATV-5 will be shown, which will impressively demonstrate the sensors 3D imaging capabilities in space environment. Furthermore its applicability in a variety of mission scenarios will be reviewed, ranging from ISS servicing to upcoming space robotics activities like satellite servicing, space debris removal or even planetary landing. Within this review, the potential capabilities of a powerful combination of the RVS3000 Sensor with state-of-the-art image processing techniques will be discussed outlining the sensors all-missions-in-one-box ambitions for future space scenarios from LEO to GEO and beyond.