Michigan-based drone inspection company, Skypersonic, is hard at work as part of its five-year partnership with NASA. Skypersonic recently conducted a simulated Mars mission and tested its remote UAV and rover piloting system. To simulate the Martian surface, the company tested its technology near the summit of Mt. Etna, a volcano in Italy.
The trials lasted 15 days and provided Skypersonic and NASA with important data for NASA’s simulated Mars mission. During the just over two weeks, Skypersonic showcased the remote control viability of its hardware and software. The Skycopter UAV was piloted thousands of kilometers away by pilots in Houston, TX.
The Skycopter UAV was joined by a terrestrial rover. The rover collected rock samples atop Mt. Etna. The long-distance remote control technology is a key component of Skypersonic’s partnership with NASA. Skypersonic ‘invented the first-ever worldwide civil real-time remote piloting system that allows piloting in FPV a drone located anywhere from a generic internet station located anywhere.’ The technology has important implications for commercial drone operations on Earth. Still, its utility could extend far beyond our planet. Unlike many remote drone operations, Skypersonic’s tech doesn’t rely upon GPS.
‘This was a grueling test that we passed with flying colors,’ said Giuseppe Santangelo, CEO of the Red Cat Holdings Skypersonic affiliate. ‘We look forward to the ultimate test – on Earth, at least – when our technology will be used during NASA’s upcoming yearlong simulated Mars mission.’
The simulated Mars mission trial relied upon Skypersonic’s Long Range Real-Time Remote Piloting and Skyloc systems. The technology will be utilized in the full NASA simulated mission. Santangelo added, ‘During the simulated Mars mission, four crew members living and working in a 1,700-square-foot module on Earth, called Mars Dune Alpha, will carry out a series of missions, including remotely guided exploration and collection of specimens from rugged terrain elsewhere on Earth, up to thousands of miles away. We are confident of also passing this test.’
If Skypersonic’s technology passes that grueling challenge, it may also be up to the task of extraterrestrial operations. The simulated Mars mission will also pose immense challenges to the four crew members living in the Earth-based module. Grace Douglas, the lead scientist for NASA’s Advanced Food Technology research team at NASA, said, ‘Simulations on Earth will help us understand and counter the physical and mental challenges astronauts will face before they go.’
Images courtesy of Skypersonic