Space-crafts designed for planetary missions often involve a probe that separates from an orbiter and lands on the planetary surface. Typical examples of these are the NASA rovers on the Mars and the early lunar missions by the United States and the Soviet Union and in the present day the attempted descent by the ESA Schiaparelli. Such space-crafts are typically Lander modules which are smaller crafts with limited computing power and power resources and are endowed with autonomous systems that use imaging to navigate a descent.
Navigation of a lander module starts with an initial hazard map which is a map of the terrain taken from an orbiter hundreds and sometimes thousands of kilometers above the planetary surface with resolutions as large as several hundred metres. Loading the lander with a more detailed hazard map poses a constraint in terms of the weight of the imaging equipment and hence the payload to be carried. An alternative approach is vision guided descent where the onboard imaging equipment associated with the lander progressively refine the terrain image and correct the lander’s trajectory to identify a suitable landing spot, thus translating the problem to the realm of vision guided control.
Experiments on vision guided landing of toy quadcopters have been successful and is a relatively easier problem as the control algorithm is not constrained by the limitation that the lander’s displacement can only be towards the planet during descent, unlike a quadcopter, and thus movements in X-Y direction can be achieved along specific X,Y,Z trajectories depending on the lander’s velocity. This is a tricky job and requires fast computation with timing and computing power constraints. Thus, this is much different from a quadcopter landing problem and encompasses several open areas of research like development of parallel image refinement algorithms with bounded complexities , optimization for processing power and the constraints imposed by the quantum of change that can be handed by the image processing algorithm on the trajectory control algorithm etc. to name only a few, and thus links the problem to the realm of High Performance Computing(HPC). Seamless recovery from a processing element failure with migration of data is another aspect of this problem intimately linked to HPC.
The proposed talk shall introduce the problem, the motivation of the HPC approach to solve the same and then move on to identify the processing elements, connectivity technology and algorithms spanning diverse domains such as image processing, HPC and Embedded Systems and finally bring out the possibilities of a collaborative research initiative.
Prof. Amitava Gupta is presently a Professor in the Department of Power Engineering at Jadavpur University, Kolkata. He got his undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from Jadavpur University, in 1990, Masters(Nuclear Engg.) from IIT Kanpur and PhD in Engineering (Comp. Sc. & Engg. Dept.) from Jadavpur University in 2002. Starting with his Masters’ dissertation in the area of micro-computer control of nuclear reactor systems, he served as a Scientific Officer in the Nuclear Power Corporation of India at Mumbai, designing computer controlled systems for nuclear power plants and then at the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing at Bangalore where he worked on the development of High Performance Computing systems. He joined Jadavpur University in 1997 where he is a full Professor since August 2005, served as the Head(Power Engg) from 2004-2006.
A recipient of the DAAD Fellowship (1999), he served as a Gastwissenschaftler of the Bavarian Science Foundation(KONWIHR program) at the TU-Muenchen(2002-2003) and as DAAD Visiting Professor(Gastdozentur) at Universitaet Rostock (2006) and TU-Muenchen (2009). He has been a Research Ambassador of the DAAD in India since 2010.Prof. Gupta's research interests include Distributed & Distributed Real-time Systems, Networked Control Systems, Fractional Order Control Systems and Control of Nuclear Reactors where he has several completed and ongoing research projects and has several doctoral dissertations under his supervision. His former and present international collaborations include TU-Muenchen, Universitaet-Rostock, the NC State and ENIT, Tunisia. He has well-cited 60 international journal and conference publications, a book and book chapters in edited volumes. Prof. Gupta also heads the School of Nuclear Studies and Applications at Jadavpur University as its Director.