Playing AstroDrone node full image European Space Agency seeking citizen help for flying robotic aircraft

The European Space Agency (ESA) is looking for citizens to help it fly robotic aircraft, in efforts to improve the reliability of space flight.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is looking for citizens to help it fly robotic aircraft, in efforts to improve the reliability of space flight.

 
The agency is looking for hobbyists who own terrestrial robotic aircraft, like the Parrot AR.Drone quadcopter, to provide data of their flights for analysis. Information collected will by anonymous.
 
iPhone users can download the AstroDrone app, developed by ESA's Advanced Concepts Team, which will log how fast a user manoeuvres their aircraft without damaging it. Users will be presented with a real life location to fly their aircraft to, with an augmented reality port or airlock overlayed, simulating docking with the International Space Station.
 
Playing AstroDrone node full image European Space Agency seeking citizen help for flying robotic aircraft
 
ESA researcher Guido de Croon said that people intuitively assess their position and motion in relation to their surroundings, based on what they see before them. It is this level of intuitive control that ESA wants to bring to robotic spacecraft.
 
The result of the research will be finely tuned navigation software for steering spacecraft into space stations, potentially saving millions on replacements and repairs if it can prevent crashes or other accidents.
 
“For ESA, the result could be much more autonomous spacecraft that can reliably manoeuvre, dock or land themselves,” said de Croon.
 
Guido de Croon demonstrates AstroDrone node full image European Space Agency seeking citizen help for flying robotic aircraft
 
Images Credit: ESA