The 'dropship' quadcopter and mockup rover are used for testing the ESA's latest StarTiger project, Dropter. The dropship has to steer itself to lower a rover gently onto a safe patch of the rocky martian surface.
Starting from scratch for the eight-month project, the Dropter team was challenged to produce vision-based navigation and hazard detection and avoidance for the dropship.
StarTiger’s Dropter project was tasked with developing and demonstrating a European precision-landing capability for Mars and other targets. The team was hosted at Airbus Defence & Space’s facility in Bremen, Germany, joined by engineers from the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, Portgual’s Spin.Works aeronautics company, and Poland’s Poznań University of Technology Institute of Control and Information Engineering.