Development and Testing of Crew Interfaces for an Advanced Unpressurized Exploration Rover

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2023 International Conference on Environmental Systems

Although revolutionary in its impact on lunar exploration, the Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) had only rudimentary navigation capabilities, and crew controls were essentially limited to go/stop and turn right/turn left. After more than five decades, rovers supporting the Artemis program will have vastly increased capabilities, and a corresponding need for more detailed and complex crew interfaces. The VERTEX rover has been developed at the University of Maryland as an field test analogue of concepts such as the Lunar Terrain Vehicle, and incorporates advanced capabilities such as active suspension, variable deck height and angle, reconfigurable payload interfaces with multipurpose electronic interfaces, and advanced controls including teleoperation and autonomous driving modes. This paper details the development and human factors evaluation of controls, displays, and restraint systems for the VERTEX rover, based on both laboratory and field testing. While advanced robotic systems are often controlled from graphical user interfaces including touch screens, the extremes of lighting on the lunar surface and effects of regolith on pressure suit gloves drive designers to greater use of discrete and dedicated control interfaces and single-function displays easy to read in both bright sunshine and darkness. Extensive human factors testing was performed to examine potential layouts for the comparatively large number of discrete displays and controls, without impacting rover ingress/egress in spacesuits. Display and control layouts are also inherently impacted by crew seating and restraints, and a focused effort was made to move beyond the unsatisfactory simple seat belts of the Apollo LRV to restraint systems which are easier to engage and release in a spacesuit. The seat design itself is strongly driven by the portable life support system, and the VERTEX seat system was optimized to accommodate a number of different backpack designs and sizes to support external test objectives.

Charles Hanner, University Of Maryland, USA
Nicolas Bolatto, University Of Maryland, USA
Daniil Gribok, University Of Maryland, USA
Spencer Quizon, University Of Maryland, USA
Rowan Quintero, University Of Maryland, USA
Ian Welfeld, University Of Maryland, USA
David Akin, University Of Maryland, USA
ICES405: Human/Robotics System Integration
The 52nd International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Calgary, Canada, on 16 July 2023 through 20 July 2023.
extravehicular activity, astronaut support rover, lunar roving vehicles, crew restraints, controls and displays