FAQ [2nd Workshop & 2018 Call]

Questions 2nd WORKSHOP and 2018 Call (Planetary & Orbital track)

General questions

Logic of the call subjects

  • Q1: Why these subjects have been chosen? Some of them seem not to be a priority of any established programme.
    • Both in the orbital and in the planetary track the PSA has oriented the call to have focus on three time horizons: near future, intermediate future, far future. The Space Robotics SRC aims at demonstrating, in 2023-2024 time frame, European space robotics technologies that will become strategic in the following decade. As such the subjects selected are not necessarily addressed by present Agency programmes or missions.
  • Q2: Will OG7-12 be more independent than OG1-5, with fewer interdependencies?
    • Yes, there will be fewer interdependencies, but that is not to say there will be none. Because all OGs 7-12 will be exploiting the same Common Building Blocks (that is why they are “Common”) there will still be a need for all parties to sign the overarching Collaboration Agreement, and there may be some crossover between the OGs, and where some collaboration may develop greater efficiencies and solutions. This is something that the SRC would encourage as it ensures the spirit of the SRC carries on.
  • Q3: Will demonstrator scenarios be defined prior to the call? Does industry get a chance to provide feedback?
    • There will be a call text document as per Call 1. We encourage and expect feedback and suggestions from industry over the coming months. The Call document will be released later in 2017.
  • Q4: Is a demonstrator to be developed for the integrated technologies of OG1-5, or we are integrating these systems into a larger system for OG7-12?
    • Validation will have to be customized to some extent. OG1-5 are being put together for specific applications. The Call text for OG7-12 is yet to be written, and it will contain some prescribed detail in the Call.
  • Q5: OG1-5 will be tested by OG6. What will be the level of integration the proposals for OG7-12 need to anticipate?
    • The level of integration is the same as normal. Libraries, modules, platforms have to be accounted for. All proposals need to integrate OG1-5 into a system (with customisations where necessary).
  • Q6: What are the start and end TRLs?
    • Roughly TRL 3 > TRL 5, but there is no upper limit. If you believe it is possible to raise the TRL to 6 within the agreed budget, then do it!
  • Q7: Do you expect to identify the mission and budget for an IOD at the end of the roadmap?
    • The budget would be in the region of €45m, and would come from FP9, but this is very much TBD. The IOD has to be steered and defined by the budget and its constraints. There will be a 3rd Peraspera SRC workshop, which would focus upon the supposed ambition of the IOD (as well as a planetary Earth Analog mission).

Planning of the Call

  • Q8: What are the proposed duration/Budget for Call 2?
    • budget and duration will be similar to those of Call 1.
  • Q9: When will the Compendium be released? As Annex to the call? How will it look like?
    • Possibly a DRAFT will be made available toward summer, probably finalised after summer. There will be clear performance metrics in the guidelines – also to be used by the evaluators. Guidelines will be once again prescriptive.
  • Q10: What is the IOD budget? Focus?
    • 3rd PERASPERA workshop will announce the PSA thoughts, in a couple of years when already the CALL 2 grants have started.

Relationship with present OGs

  • Q11: What are the mechanisms to make sure that the Common Building Blocks are not protected during/at the end of OGs?
    • several deliverables are defined PU (or for internal SRC circulation), some project activities look at these aspects. E.g., The projects have defined public Workshops which will be key to release results. Post-project exploitation plans should look at ways to make results an open standard (not to protect them).
  • Q12: What will be the maturity of the building blocks, especially as Input to the next OGs? At time of next call, status will be between PDR and CDR. How will this influence the next call and evaluation?
    • Indeed, projects will be between PDR and CDR. FAIRNESS and Transparency is key; the baseline information to be used for evaluation will be in the guidelines
    • The PSA will make sure that the any information available to the running OGs, relevant for proposal making, will be made available in the technical annex to the call, so that all subjects participating to the call will have a fair opportunity
  • Q13: How finished and integrated will be the building blocks? Would OGs integrate (in terms of V&V)? Are there mitigation measures for working with separated development teams? Who will verify the S/W updates? What is the modus Operandi of the SRC?
    • Due to the parallel nature of the building blocks development, in the present stage of the SRC there is no final integration. Parallel developments, obviously cannot implement the classical waterfall development cycle. This presents challenges (possible mismatches of interfaces and behaviours) but also opportunities (the developments can adapt to each-other)
    • The mitigation measures are multiple: each OG has an Interface Engineers in charge of harmonising interfaces and a common ICD, all projects stay in sync via shared milestones and shared GIT repositories, there are common validation platforms, the PSA coordinates as far as possible technical and programmatic aspects
    • It is anticipated that the building blocks will be functional to the requirements posed by OG7-12
    • The final integration of the building blocks will happen in the second call within the specific application needs of each OG7-12
  • Q14: Permanence of the OG1-5 products: version Management, third party libraries etc: Who will maintain the software repositories (mainly RCOS) after project end?
    • Use of OG1-5 building blocks will be compulsory for all following OGs. In this way the building blocks will have an enlarged user base that is a pre-requisite for permanence
    • The building blocks will be maintained at least for the whole duration of the SRC
    • After the SRC end, some building blocks will be still maintained in the course of the FP9 IOD
    • In general if the building blocks will have achieved a large user base in the course of the SRC there will not be any need to actively maintain them. We hope we will get in the same situation of many open-source projects that continue to exist thanks to the large community of users
  • Q15: Will the building block suffice to the development of OG7-12? Will they need adaptations? Will new technology development be required?
    • The building blocks were in their nature generic. As such they cannot accommodate specific needs. For example drilling is very specific to planetary exploration and was not developed in the first calls.
    • We expect that there will be the need for instantiation of generic building block to the application targeted by the specific OG.
    • We will also require some application-specific technologies to be developed.

Proposal making

  • Q16: What are the tools from the EC to make the information available?
    • The Guidelines are going to include all the necessary information for doing the proposal. Proposals will be evaluated just On the basis of the guidelines.
    • Q&A section at PERASPERA to be updated with all information periodically.  
  • Q17: And to encourage new comers?
    • COSMOS+ can be contacted, partner search tool setup for this purpose.
    • At the launch of the call the EC organise 5 min match making presentations
    • The PSA will (HAS) prepare(d) a (this) forum on the PERASPERA web site to facilitate match-making between entities in advance to the call
    • This SRC event is also for this purpose as well. The PSA will continue to participate to info-days and relevant events (such as the ERF) to meet

Orbital Track:

Logic of the subjects and inter-relation

  • Q18: Why is Orbital servicing a priority?
    • The PSA has oriented the call to have focus on three time horizons: near future, intermediate future, far future. In near future, we believe that in orbit servicing will spill over from institutional space sector (the ISS was built by robots) into non institutional space sector. Work on the subject in the SRC will prepare for these applications,  maintain competence on the topic even if it is not in the urgent priorities of agencies.


  • Q19: With respect to rendezvous, when does the scope of the application for OG7 and OG9 begin? For example, the robotic element (grasping and manipulating) are more important at close-range (~1m) than at long distance, far field approaches.
    • OG7 will focus on the more near-field capabilities, but there is no magic number at which where elements are in or out of scope, and it would be down to proposals to identify what is important to achieve these applications.

OG7 specific

  • Q20: In the OG would proposals have to extend scope to the use of dangerous liquids, or gases?
    • Proposals would have to identify the State-Of-The-Art in these areas, as the PSA has done in our existing reports, but whether or not actual or simulated dangerous liquids or gases would be used in the testing phase is down to the individual proposal. The focus is on the robotic elements of the application and will be rated accordingly.
  • Q21: It looks as though several capabilities (OG7, 8, 9) would have to be integrated into a single mission for the IOD. How is this to be done? Will there be separate calls for each OG?
    • The correct development of standardized interfaces in OG5 will allow different missions to take place. This means developing a capability free of royalties and IP constraints, to allow for maximum operability of the system. There will only be one grant administered for each OG in the 2nd This is in accordance with the structure of the SRC.
  • Q22: Is it really cost-efficient to build spacecraft for refueling?
    • From a commercial perspective, there is perhaps little sense in investing into this when so much investment is being poured into new rockets and launch infrastructure. Increased amounts of xenon and increased electrical spacecraft will increase lifespans. However, none of this will become applicable across industry until standardized interfaces have been developed and shown to work in operation. But from an institutional perspective it makes more sense, as we look further into the future to modular spacecraft that may stay in service indefinitely.

OG8 specific

  • Q23: What are subsequent ambitions for assembling large structures in orbit?
    • Currently there is no way of launching self-assembling structure larger than the James Webb Telescope, yet Next-Generation telescopes, larger than James Webb, are already being proposed, and the most efficient way of enabling these structures to operate in orbit is to assemble them robotically. The use of robots to assemble such structures was demonstrated by ESA some years ago, before the funding expired, so the need and potential market use is there.


OG9 specific

Planetary track:

Logic of the subjects and inter-relation

  • Q24: What is the rationale for OG10-12?
    • The PSA has oriented the call to have focus on three time horizons: near future, intermediate future, far future. In these time frames we have arranged what we believe comes after Exo-Mars, to MSR and beyond. In the near future, we expect Europe to capitalise on the assets produced in Exomars and related early explorers to build more efficiency in the missions by increasing autonomy. In the intermediate future, once the autonomous reasoning capabilities will be proven, we expect to venture in more demanding and hostile enviroments, finally in the far future robotics will be used for preparation of human presence on planetary surfaces. So we have to begin the process of understanding, for example, the costs, potential, performance demands of erecting a truss or scaffolding, or dig a trench, or plant poles. This will help to understand timing and timelines, costs, materials demands, and the constraints of working on foreign surfaces.
  • Q25: Why do we do this when there are no exploration missions (we struggle to have ExoMars currently)?
    • Lunar/Mars colonisation needs preparation, more than just announcements of interest. There are several plans for exploration, but without demonstrations at this level it is very hard to understand what we REALLY need; these studies will shed light on key aspects (how long does it take to do an assembly, how many robots, feasibility of concepts etc…)
  • Q26: Will OG10-12 focus on the Moon or Mars?
    • This is not determined at this point. Any interesting technology will not be excluded, and it may be too early to specify. The Lunar scenario is more suitable for OG12 and Mars for OG10-11, but a more specific target location and scenario may be specified in the Call text and the Guidelines of the Call.
  • Q27: It seems that OG10 and OG11 are single technologies, whereas OG12 targets several technologies.
    • This is not the case. In fact all three OGs will address several technologies to enable the application they focus on. All OGs shall make use of the Common Building Blocks
  • Q28: it the case that the TRL will move from 5 to 6?
    • We require that OG10-12 shall demonstrate capability in an analog environment, but without space specific environmental constraints, such as vacuum/low-pressure , thermal extremes etc, atmospheric differences etc
  • Q29: The environments will have a significant impact upon the rover design. Will there be separate activities to think about environmental-driven design?
    • The PSA will specify some environmental drivers in the technical annex, where they will be relevant to the development of the technology, for example the type of geographic feature the rover(s) will investigate in OG11.
    • Other environmental limitations will be accounted for by restraining resources (e.g. power, computing, data) to what is reasonable to expect for the specific time horizon
  • Q30: OG1-5 are quite general. OG10-12 are quite specific. Does it make sense to develop specific scenarios to test them? Eg OG12 addresses a Moon Base. How do we formulate a benchmark for this technology? Is there a testing scenario whereby we can achieve that benchmark?
    • OG10-12 focus on applications that have specific needs at their base. The technical annex to the call will define these needs in the anticipated scenario and with the minimal performance that the technologies involved require to fulfill these needs.
    • For the specific case of OG12, the scenario and needs will be described and for what regards performance, some minimal, application-enabling benchmark will be specified. However the goal is to demonstrate how far beyond the minimal requirements is possible to go, in order to inform all lunar-base design activities of the future with factual data.
  • Q31: Is it worth staggering the OGs? OG12 looks as if it is dependent upon outputs from OG10.
    • By the time OG10-12 begin, results from OG2 will be available, which will be the new state-of-the-art. Also, the customization of OG1 for the purposes of OG10-12 will have to take place.
  • Q32: Is it mandatory to consider spin-off or spin-in potential for the proposals?
    • It is not mandatory, but it is clear that the planetary sector in particular has the ability to support many ground-based sectors through the rigorous tests necessary for demonstration. Also, it is beholden upon the SRC to strength the European space sector, and we can do that by assisting the development of excellent terrestrial capability where it has relevance and application to OG7-12. This technology can then be spun back out into commercial markets, providing commercial value. Engaging with robotics companies operating in terrestrial sectors could open up opportunities and expertise that might not be available in the space robotics community.

OG11 specific

  • Q33: Could other platforms be considered (ie aerobots / drones, etc) that could be deployed on the Moon or Mars?
    • A: There is no constraint of platform. The application demonstration scenario will be specified in the Call text. Whichever combination of platforms the proposal consortium feels is the best combination to achieve that application may be proposed.


OG12 specific

  • Q34: What would the configuration for robots in OG12 be? Humanoid with two arms?
    • There is no need to be constrained to a humanoid form. Robots could have three or more arms; the form should follow the function. Development will stop at demonstration of effective working of the technology in this application. If you want to investigate a complex task, the different instrumentation and platforms required to achieve that task have to be identified, and a humanoid form doesn’t necessarily have to reflect that (although it may be that it does).
  • Q35: Lunar base construction can be tele-operated, but this is impossible on Mars. What levels of autonomy can we expect?
    • Teleoperation technology may also be applicable to a Martian scenario. One stage of future space exploration may see humans in orbit around Mars teleoperating robotic assets on the surface for science or resource prospecting/utilisation
    • There will be a strong emphasis upon multi-agent architectures; man<>machine architectures, and machine<>machine architectures. Telerobotics capabilities need to be assessed for the building of certain pieces of infrastructure.
  • Q36: Is OG12 paving the way for future manned missions?
    • There is no such mission planned (yet) for landing people on other worlds. These projects (not just OG12) will start the consideration of parameters and demands and requirements of such future missions. If you wanted to launch a sampler mission it’s possible to use current understanding. But planning for the construction and use of a landing pad or solar farm is uncharted territory; we know little to nothing about what it takes, so this is a step in that direction. It is important to remember there are ground-based applications for these technologies, so contacting terrestrial end-users can have interim commercial value even before such a mission in space becomes viable. These missions will also be necessarily supported by OG10 and OG11. OG10 is probably the next big mission planned beyond ExoMars / MSR, using specific capabilities to extract currently unobtainable samples. OG12 – robots working together using a combination of teleoperation and autonomy – is still farther afield.
  • Q37: Is OG12 for the purposes of 3D printing, or future habitation?
    • The SRC is about development of space robotics technologies. Though 3D printing of lunar regolith may be a relevant building technology, it is very much related to a specific device. There are many other robot-requiring building activities that need more assessment. From prospecting, to building roads, landing pads to enable logistics of infrastructure, materials, robots and ultimately people, to deploying energy plants and distribution lines. All these activities may involve deep drilling (e.g. for assaying the regolith, preparing poles for power lines) working with  dirt (shifting, flattening, piling), assembling modular elements (cladding, trussess) and other processes.