Drone Maps Icy Lava Tube in Iceland in Preparation for Lunar & Martian Cave Exploration

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (Astrobotic/SETI Institute PR) – The SETI Institute and Astrobotic Technology, Inc. are announcing the successful mapping in 3D of the interior of an ice-rich lava tube in Iceland using a LiDAR-equipped drone. The team was investigating the Lofthellir Lava Tube Ice Cave in the remote Myvatn region of Iceland, and used the drone to document the lava tube’s shape and extent, history of rock falls, and spectacular ice formations.

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Honeybee Robotics Receives 6 SBIR, STTR Phase 1 Awards

honeybee_roboticsNEW YORK (Honeybee Robotics PR) — Honeybee Robotics Spacecraft Mechanisms Corporation today announced it has received six NASA awards for technology development through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. The awards will fund new approaches to planetary sampling systems, spacecraft mechanisms, and unmanned ground vehicles for Earth and Lunar applications.

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Inexpensive Lidar Kickstarter Campaign Launched

My friend Nadir Bagaveyev of XCOR Aerospace has launched this Kickstarter campaign. He is doing this work as an independent project in his spare time at the new Mojave Makers facility at the spaceport. It’s one of a number of interesting projects underway at the maker space.

About this project

This project is to develop inexpensive lidar from affordable components – laser pointer, small single board computer running linux and a webcam. Unlike more expensive lidars calculating timing between light emitted and returned, this lidar will have software calculating angles and distances to reflected spots and output serial signal with XYZ coordinates of reflected points in relation to 0,0,0 position of a camera.

These funds will help produce precision machined parts and buy components that are required to make this lidar precise.Even with foam prototype the error was no more than 2%, e.g. at distances of 50 inches it could have an error of 1 inch.

Currently prototype works between 1 ft and 16 ft reliably, but running MATLAB on an embedded computer is not a way to go, so I’m writing concise C code to capture images, recognize reflected spots and triangulate distances to them.