Computing That Serves

Field Testing of Utility Robots for Lunar Surface Operations


Thursday, January 22, 2009 - 10:00am


Terry Fong
Director of the Intelligent Robotics Group, NASA Ames Research Center

Since 2004, NASA has been working to return to the Moon. In contrast to the Apollo missions, two key objectives of the current exploration program are to establish surface infrastructure and an permanent human outpost. Achieving these objectives will enable long-duration stays and comprehensive, long-distance exploration of the Moon. To do this, robotic systems will be needed to perform a wide range of tasks which cannot, or should not, be performed by crew alone. Some of these tasks will be performed in parallel with crew activity, but many will be done before and after humans are on the Moon. In this talk, I will summarize our work to develop "utility robots" for lunar surface operations, present results and lessons learned from field testing, and discuss directions for future research.


Dr. Terry Fong is the Director of the Intelligent Robotics Group at the NASA Ames Research Center. Prior to this, Dr. Fong was the deputy leader of the Virtual Reality and Active Interfaces Group at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL). From 1997 to 2000, he was Vice President of Development for Fourth Planet, Inc., a developer of real-time visualization software. Dr. Fong has published more than fifty papers in field robotics, human-robot interaction, and virtual reality user interfaces. Dr. Fong received his B.S. and M.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT and his Ph.D. in Robotics from CMU.