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Probabilistic surface characterization for safe landing hazard detection and avoidance (HDA)

Apparatuses, systems, computer programs and methods for performing hazard detection and avoidance for landing vehicles are provided. Hazard assessment takes into consideration the geometry of the lander. Safety probabilities are computed for a plurality of pixels in a digital elevation map. The safety probabilities are combined for pixels associated with one or more aim points and orientations. A worst case probability value is assigned to each of the one or more aim points and orientations.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has developed a probabilistic algorithm for hazard detection and avoidance that robustly handles sensor noise. Conventional surface characterization methods use fixed hazard thresholds to determine hazardous landing locations. These thresholds are set lower than lander tolerances to compensate for sensor noise, but this leads to excessive false alarms and significantly reduces the number of safe locations. JPL's probabilistic method seamlessly combines the distance to the nearest hazard and the local roughness and incorporates the presence of navigation errors to determine the probability that a given location is a safe landing site. This innovative algorithm enables onboard hazard detection and avoidance to increase the probability of safe landing and allow landings in more scientifically interesting but challenging sites.

Safety probability estimation seamlessly combines local roughness and distance to nearest hazard


Autonomous helicopter landing - defense rescue, supply delivery, and disaster assistance

Planetary exploration


Tonislav I. Ivanov, Andres Huertas, Andrew E. Johnson

Patent Number: 
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Patent Issue Date: 
October 22, 2015
Far West
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