Testing Astronaut-Controlled Surface Robots from the International Space Station

Previously Recorded on - Wednesday, April 30, 2014   3:00pm GMT/10:00 AM ET

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) are currently developing robots that can be remotely operated on planetary surfaces by astronauts in orbiting spacecraft. The primary objective of this work is to test and demonstrate crew-controlled communications, operations, and telerobotic technologies that are needed for future deep space human exploration missions. Specifically, NASA’s “Human Exploration Telerobotics” (HET) project and ESA’s “Multi-Purpose End-To-End Robotic Operations Network” (METERON) project are complementary initiatives that aim to validate these technologies through a range of ground and flight experiments with humans and robots in the loop.

In this Webinar, we summarize the tests that have been done to date, describe the tests that are being prepared for flight, and discuss future directions for our work.



Terry Fong
Ph.D. Director
Intelligent Robotics Group
NASA Ames Research Center

Dr. Terry Fong is the Director of the Intelligent Robotics Group at the NASA Ames Research Center, a position he has held since 2005. From 2002 to 2004, 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 one hundred papers in field robotics, human-robot interaction, virtual reality user interfaces, and parallel processing. Dr. Fong received his B.S. and M.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University.


Philippe Schoonejans
Head of Robotics
European Space Agency

Philippe Schoonejans is the Head of Robotics and Future Projects in ESA's Human Spaceflight and Operations Directorate. He graduated in nuclear physics from the Free University of Amsterdam in 1986. Philippe worked for 5 years as system engineer and subcontract manager in European space industry before joining ESA in 1991. At ESA, he worked in robotics for human spaceflight, but has also spent a lot of time on knowledge management, technology development, dealing with the media, software development policies, and on future plans for human spaceflight and ESA.

Currently as head of robotics and future projects, he is project manager for the European Robot Arm, a large manipulator for the Russian Segment of the ISS and also project manager for two smaller robotics projects related to human exploration, such as METERON. Next to the robotics, Philippe is responsible for human spaceflight related technology development needs, member of the ESA standardization steering board, and projects related to human space transportation, such as docking mechanisms and flight displays. 

Klaus Ehrenberger
Commercial Solutions
Business Development Manager
Hewlett-Packard EMEA
Munich, Germany

Graduated in Electronic Engineering from Technical University Munich in 1992. Klaus started his professional career as software engineer at Intergraph, a pioneer in Computer Graphics Software and Hardware, taking various presales and sales positions for this company. He changed to become a Technical Consultant for Compaq Computer in 1997, where he built up the EMEA Competence Center for Workstations. After the merger of Compaq with Hewlett-Packard in 2002, Klaus moved to a marketing role as ISV relationship manager, building demand generation campaigns with software partners in key vertical market segments. After several business management, sales and business development positions with a focus on Workstation, Thin Client and Retail Point of Sales products, Klaus currently cares for business development of HP Commercial Solutions.

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