Characterization and Helicopter Flight Test of 3-D Imaging Flash LIDAR Technology for Safe, Autonomous, and Precise Planetary Landing
Roback, Vincent Eric
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Two flash lidars, integrated from a number of cutting-edge components from industry and NASA, are lab characterized and flight tested under the Autonomous Landing and Hazard Avoidance (ALHAT) project (in its fourth development and field test cycle) which is seeking to develop a guidance, navigation, and control (GNC) and sensing system based on lidar technology capable of enabling safe, precise human-crewed or robotic landings in challenging terrain on planetary bodies under any ambient lighting conditions. The flash lidars incorporate pioneering 3-D imaging cameras based on Indium-Gallium-Arsenide Avalanche Photo Diode (InGaAs APD) and novel micro-electronic technology for a 128 x 128 pixel array operating at 30 Hz, high pulse-energy 1.06 ?m Nd:YAG lasers, and high performance transmitter and receiver fixed and zoom optics. The two flash lidars are characterized on the NASA-Langley Research Center (LaRC) Sensor Test Range, integrated with other portions of the ALHAT GNC system from around the country into an instrument pod at NASA-JPL, integrated onto an Erickson Aircrane Helicopter at NASA-Dryden, and flight tested at the Edwards AFB Rogers dry lakebed over a field of human-made geometric hazards. Results show that the maximum operational range goal of 1000m is met and exceeded up to a value of 1200m, that the range precision goal of 8 cm is marginally met, and that the transmitter zoom optics divergence needs to be extended another eight degrees to meet the zoom goal 6° to 24°. Several hazards are imaged at medium ranges to provide three-dimensional Digital Elevation Map (DEM) information.
- Masters Theses