As a kind of test run for the moon, autonomous rovers have explored a lava cave on Lanzarote. With the exploration of the cave, one "hopefully came a little closer to a real moon mission," said project coordinator Thomas Vögele from the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), according to a statement. The CoRob-X project, funded by the European Union, was based at a DFKI site in Bremen.
The technologies used during the exploration of the cave could be used on the moon in the future. After all, it is a goal of international space travel to set up a permanent station on the earth's satellite. Craters and caves are particularly good locations for a station because they offer protection from radiation, meteorites, and temperature fluctuations. But before humans enter the craters and caves, autonomous robots could examine them. The CoRob-X researchers tested the rovers on Lanzarote because the island with its lava tunnels offers good conditions for this.
According to the DFKI, the test consisted of several steps: First, a rover transported a so-called sensor cube into the interior of the cave - and delivered a 3D map of the entrance. Another rover then lowered a third to the cave floor. He explored the terrain and created a map of the area.